by Katie Parker, sports information graduate assistant
AUGUSTA, Ga. - The Peach Belt Conference (PBC) released the 2009 softball tournament bracket, which starts tomorrow (April 17) at the Freedom Florence Complex in Florence, S.C. The tournament is hosted by Francis Marion University for the second consecutive year, with 10 teams competing for the conference championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Georgia College & State University is the No. 2 seed for the double-elimination event, which runs through the championship game on Sunday. The defending tournament champions are 30-20 overall and 12-6 in Peach Belt play. The Bobcats won their first PBC tournament title in 2008 as the No. 3 seed and will face the winner of the Francis Marion and Lander University game Friday at 1:30 p.m.
The Bobcats split the tournament hosts during the regular season. Georgia College capitalized on its four hits, taking game one 3-1. The Patriots answered back in game two, tying things up at three in the bottom of the sixth when bad weather halted the contest. Day two of the rain-delayed doubleheader resulted in the 4-3 Bobcat loss. Despite taking game one, Georgia College just couldn't overcome a Patriot home run during the bottom of the sixth inning.
Earlier in the season, the Bobcats swept Lander 2-0 and 5-2 in a convincing fashion on their home turf. Georgia College out hit the Bearcats 18-5 in the doubleheader.
North Georgia is the top seed in the tourney, ranking No. 2 in the nation and No. 1 in the region. The Saints captured their first PBC regular season championship with an extraordinary 39-3 overall record and 17-1 in conference contests. North Georgia will meet the winner of the UNC Pembroke and Georgia Southwestern showdown at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The Bobcats are led by a pair of All-Americans in senior pitcher Mandy Chandler (Covington, Ga.) and senior centerfielder Sherquita Bostick (Florence, S.C.). Chandler is 25-11 for the season, striking out 379 batters with a 1.84 ERA. The righty has broken three Peach Belt records this season (career wins, career strikeouts and single-season strikeouts) and climbed her way into a tie for sixth in career strikeouts in the NCAA Division II record books.
Bostick, the reigning conference player of the year, leads Georgia College at the plate this season, batting .363. The senior leads the team in runs with 36, in home runs with 10 and in RBIs with 38. She leads the PBC in slugging and triples while second in home runs, third in RBIs and 10th in batting average. Backing up Bostick is a trio of powerful Bobcat hitters in seniors Tonya Medders (Bascom, Fla.) and Lindsey Swanson (Kennesaw, Ga.) and freshman Anna Parker (Columbus, Ga.).
Medders is just behind Bostick hitting .333 and leading the team with 52 hits this season. The senior doubles as both a first baseman and a pitcher. She is 3-0 in the circle with an ERA of 1.62.
Swanson has 47 hits for the 2009 campaign batting a consistent .290 for the Bobcats. The shortstop leads the team in doubles with 11, while posting two triples, a home run and 28 RBI.
As the only freshman starter for Georgia College, Parker is second on the squad in homers with seven. The catcher, a freshman of the year candidate, is batting .226 with 24 RBI. She has 33 hits while recording four doubles and two triples. She is sixth in the Peach Belt in home runs.
The PBC Tournament will wrap up Sunday (April 19) at 5 p.m. with the championship game. The winner will receive an automatic bid to the national tournament.
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