VSU Softball Tags No. 14 Panthers With Doubleheader Sweep

| February 24, 2016
source: VStateBlazers.com

source: VStateBlazers.com

MELBOURNE, Fla. – The No. 6 Valdosta State Blazer softball team pushed through two rain delays and picked up a pair of wins over the nationally ranked No. 14 Florida Tech Panthers (3-2, 12-1) on an overcast Tuesday afternoon in Melbourne, Fla.

The Blazers picked up their first run of the day in the top of the second inning after Taylor Hartenbach sparked the frame with a leadoff single. Brandy Morgan followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt and Hartenbach drew an errant throw to third after an aggressive baserunning play by the sophomore. Panther second baseman Karina Suicava’s toss to third got away and allowed Hartenbach to cross for a Blazer 1-0 lead.

Valdosta State added on in the fifth, courtesy of Kiley Rusen, who followed a Jaime Phillips infield single with a two run blast. Rusen’s homer represented her sixth in seven days and lifted her season total to 10, the same number of home runs she hit during the entirety of her junior season last year in 2015.

The pair of runs proved to be valuable and helped the Blazers secure the victory, despite two runs scored by Florida Tech in the bottom half of both the sixth and seventh innings.

Caitlyn Calhoun, who was announced as the Gulf South Conference Pitcher of the Week for the second consecutive week midway through the first contest, collected the victory to improve her record to 9-1 on the year. The win marked Calhoun’s fifth straight triumph in the circle.

Game two got off to a similar start, as Valdosta State scored two early runs in the second before Hartenbach clubbed a leadoff double and promptly came around to score on a follow up two bagger off the bat of Brandy Morgan. Second baseman Danielle Patterson added on shortly after with an RBI single, which gave VSU a 4-0 advantage.

Huntyre Elling, now 4-2 on the year, acquired her fourth win of the year, thanks to four scoreless innings of work. Maci Fletcher relieved Elling in the bottom of the fifth and induced a grounder to for the third out to leave two Panthers stranded and hold FIT to just one fifth inning run.

Working with a 4-1 lead, the Blazers broke the game wide open and invoked the mercy rule in the sixth with an 11-run outburst in the top half of the inning that included three consecutive home runs by Hayley Cruthers, Heather Robinson, and Chelsea Canara.

The Blazers slapped two losses on Rachel Pence, who entered the day with perfect record and a 1.14 ERA. The junior ace started both games, and fell to 11-2 after the VSU sweep.

Valdosta State will now turn their attention to West Florida, as the Blazers travel to Pensacola, Fla. for a three-game weekend set. The series kicks off on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. EST for a doubleheader, followed by the weekend finale on Sunday afternoon.

VStateBlazers.com

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