Next Up for Blazer Softball: The GSC Tournament

| April 28, 2016

vsu softball

FLORENCE, Ala. – Postseason softball kicks off on Thursday in Florence, Ala., where six incredibly talented teams will go to battle in a double-elimination tournament and compete for the 2016 Gulf South Conference crown.

All six teams featured in this year’s conference tournament are ranked among the top ten in the South Region, and four are ranked among the top five. Competition begins on Thursday, with Valdosta State set to face the winner of West Florida and Shorter at 4:00 p.m. EST.


North Alabama will serve as this year’s host after locking up the No. 1 seed with an impressive 46-5 overall record and 30-3 stint in GSC play. Led by GSC Player of the Year Brooklynn Clark, the red hot Lions will enter the tournament with an 11-game winning streak, a No. 1 position in the South Regional rankings, and a spot at No. 4 on the NFCA’s national division II list of the top 25 teams in the nation.

A season full of ups and downs seems to once again be on the upswing for Head Coach Thomas Macera‘s Valdosta State Blazers (38-10-2, 22-9-1 GSC). GSC Pitcher of the Year Caitlyn Calhoun currently leads the league and ranks among the nation’s best in both wins (26) and strikeouts (224). Complementing Calhoun on the offensive side are Kiley Rusen, Jaime Phillips, and Heather Robinson, who were each recognized this week as All-GSC selections. The trio has 42 of VSU’s 72 homers, and Brandy Morgan has also chipped in on VSU’s power numbers with 10 dingers of her own. The Blazers earned a second place seeding after a sweep of Delta State, who is currently ranked among the top 10 teams in the South Region.

The Argonauts (37-13, 23-10 GSC) spent a lengthy period of time as the No. 2 team in the GSC rankings this season, but a pair of losses to Shorter over the weekend, including a 9-inning 1-0 loss in game three of the weekend series, resulted in a slip into the No. 3 position in the league standings heading into postseason play. All-GSC honorees Meghan Toney, Kalyn Chapman, Rhiannon Sassman led UWF to some big wins on the season, including three-game sweeps of both Delta State and Valdosta State. Chapman has been a dual threat both at the plate and in the circle, and leads her team in home runs (6) while also serving as one of the league’s top ten pitchers with a 19-6 record and a 2.22 ERA.

Les Stuedeman’s bunch faced a setback late in the season with four straight conference losses, which included a three-game sweep at the hands of Valdosta State. Since then, however, the Chargers (38-13, 22-11 GSC) have won five straight and enter the tournament as the No. 4 seed on the heels of a historic offensive performance for third baseman Kaitlyn Bannister against Union last weekend that included four home runs and 20 RBI’s in the three game set. Bannister currently leads the nation in RBI’s (80), regardless of division, and joined teammates Abby Roberts, Tyler Harrison, and Taylor Wascavage on the list of All-GSC honorees.

Times have been tough for Delta State (33-18, 21-12 GSC) lately, and the Lady Statesmen will be aiming to turn the tide heading into the Gulf South Conference Tournament. Both West Florida and Valdosta State secured sweeps over DSU during the final two weekends of the regular season, resulting in a current six-game losing streak. One of the biggest highlights of the season for Delta State came in mid-March, when the Lady Statesmen took two out of three against Alabama-Huntsville. A big part of DSU’s success has come from the production of Kaitlin Moore, who is tied for fourth in the league with a .417 batting average, and Kassidy Tally, who leads the nation in stolen bases with 68. Both players earned First Team All-GSC honors this week.

The defending GSC Champs enjoyed another stellar season by the 2015 GSC Tournament MVP and Freshman of the Year, Niki Cook. During her sophomore campaign, Cook currently ranks third in the conference with a .438 batting average and second in the league with 32 stolen bases. The Hawks (29-18, 20-13 GSC) jumped to No. 7 in Wednesday’s NCAA Division II South Regional rankings after taking two out of three from West Florida in the final weekend of the regular season. As the No. 6 seed in the GSC Tournament, Shorter will square off against the Argonauts for the fourth time in less than a week in a first round matchup on Thursday.
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