VALDOSTA, GA – The Valdosta State softball team suffered back-to-back losses (3-1, 8-6) in the Blazers’ Gulf South Conference double header opener against Shorter at Steel’s Diamond on Saturday afternoon.
In game one, Brianna Hancock exchanged scoreless innings with Shorter ace Christina Ezell for the first three frames before the fourth inning, when Hannah Strickland ripped a run scoring double over the bag at third and into the left field corner. The two bagger allowed Shelby Altman, who had reached previously on a walk, to score all the way from first base and gave the Blazers a 1-0 advantage.
The VSU lead was short-lived, however, as the Hawks quickly responded in the top of half of the next inning. The frame started with Kayla Cooper, who reached after Altman made a nice play on a ground ball to short, but threw the ball away on the attempt to first. In the following at bat, Cooper moved up on a wild pitch before Hancock induced a ground ball out and struck out a batter. Maggie Meachum delivered for the Hawks in the next at bat with run scoring single to tie the game back up at 1-1.
The game deciding blow came off the bat of Ericka Bynum in the sixth, when the freshman pinch hit for the Hawks with a runner aboard. Bynum connected on a pitch and lifted a high fly ball deep to right center that creeped over the wall for a two-run blast that opened up a 3-1 lead for Shorter.
Hancock struck out five in the game and allowed just five hits, but Ezell matched the effort with five strikeouts of her own and just one run allowed.
The Blazers were unable to overcome an impressive offensive performance by Shorter in game two, as the Hawks scored runs in five of the seven innings played.
Shorter took a 3-1 lead into the fourth inning before the squad opened up a five run advantage, thanks to a half inning which included three hits, one error, and three runs scored, one of which was unearned.
Trailing 8-2 in the final inning, the Blazers made a push with a three run home run by Karson King and a four run half inning, but the six run deficit proved to be too much to overcome as the Hawks finished off the two game sweep.
The pair of losses dropped the Blazers to 8-5 on the year and 0-2 in GSC play. Meanwhile, the Hawks opened up their league record 2-0 and improved to 6-5 overall.
The weekend series concludes tomorrow afternoon at Steel’s Diamond at Blazer Park with an afternoon matchup scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m.