by Alex Cooper, sports information student assistant
MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. – The Georgia College softball team (34-14, 13-9 PBC) enters the 2014 Peach Belt Conference (PBC) Tournament as the No. 4 seed, coming off a championship game run a year ago. The single elimination tournament will be hosted by Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C. and pits the top eight teams in the PBC against each other for an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament.
The Bobcats will begin play taking on No. 5-seed Flagler College in the first round, with the winner taking on the winner of the No. 1-seed University of North Georgia and No. 8-seed GRU Augusta in the semifinal. The other half of the bracket pits No. 3-seed USC Aiken against No. 6-seed Columbus State University and No. 2-seed Armstrong Atlantic State University against No. 7-seed Francis Marion in the first round.
The Bobcats swept Flagler earlier this year at the Peeler Complex, winning 8-0 and 14-7. Georgia College also took both games at GRU Augusta this year, both by scores of 3-1. The Bobcats were only swept twice themselves this season, one of those coming at the hands of North Georgia, 2-1 and 7-3 on March 27.
Georgia College has made it to the championship game in the tournament four times, winning in 2008, when they defeated North Georgia 4-3 in nine innings.
As a team, the Bobcats rank in the top-3 in the conference in six different categories. On the offensive side, they are first in stolen bases with 104, second in batting average and on base percentage at .299 and .376, respectively and third in runs scored with 238 and hits with 381. The Bobcat pitching staff is ranked third in the PBC with an ERA of 2.27 as a team.
Offensively, the Bobcats have been led this season by senior Whitney Okvist (Kennesaw, Ga.). Okvist hit .441 in the regular season, good for third in the conference. Her 44 runs scored, 67 hits, 74 total bases, .487 slugging percentage and 43 stolen bases all lead the team.
In the circle, freshman Carly Lewis (Seymour, Tenn.) has been the star of the Bobcats, going 16-8 this season with a 1.73 ERA. Lewis has thrown 15 complete games in 19 games started and 145 1/3 total innings. She ranks second in the conference in ERA, tied for fifth in wins, eighth in strikeouts with 102 and first in saves with three.
The Bobcats first round game against Flagler will take place at 1:30 p.m. Friday April 18 in Florence, S.C.
The Georgia College Department of Athletics, two-time winners of the PBC Commissioner's Cup, sponsors 11 varsity athletic programs at the NCAA Division II level. As a Division II program, Bobcat Athletics prides itself on balancing the life of the student-athlete, evidenced by the teams' multiple appearances in post-season competition as well as documented academic success and community-service involvement. Sign up at @GCBobcats on Twitter and Facebook for up-to-the-minute reports, and visit GCBobcats.PhotoReflect.com to purchase photo prints from home athletic contests.