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Tori Robinson (Photo: GGC)

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A home run by senior shortstop Tori Robinson to open the sixth inning propelled the Georgia Gwinnett College softball team to a 2-1 victory over Vanguard University (Calif.) on Thursday evening in a first-round game at the NAIA World Series.

The No. 8-seeded Grizzlies (43-14) will now play No. 1-seeded University of Science & Arts (Okla.) on Friday, May 24, at 5:30 p.m.

Robinson blasted a 1-ball, 1-strike count pitch over the left field wall to give GGC its first lead of the contest. Earlier, a sacrifice fly from senior Aubree Cox tied the game 1-1 in the top of the second inning.

“When I swung, I knew. It felt really awesome,” Robinson said of her important home run.

Vanguard (46-12), the No. 9 seed, got an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning. That’s the only blemish against Georgia Gwinnett College senior pitcher Taylor Hansis, who struck out five batters and scattered six hits in a complete-game effort. She recorded her 26th victory of the season, setting a new single-season school record, and has won all seven of the team’s postseason games this spring.

The Grizzlies outhit the Lions by an 8-6 margin, including two hits from junior Sydney Willhite.

This marks the second straight season for GGC to win its first game in the NAIA World Series. Last season was the first time the team advanced to the championship site.

Thursday’s game was delayed more than six hours as tournament officials dealt with field conditions affected by severe weather conditions from Wednesday night and early Thursday.

“The team was focused on winning each inning," GGC head coach Kat Ihlenburg said. "When we did fall behind, we bounced right back. Then, we played great defense behind Taylor once we got the lead. Taylor got ahead in the (pitching) count and made some key pitches to get us the win."