ALBANY, GA – The Albany State softball team gave Valdosta State two tough outings in a Tuesday double header in Albany, Ga., but the Blazers were twice able to hold off the Lady Rams to claim a pair of 2-1, 5-2 wins at Lady Rams Field.
The two wins boosted the Blazers record to 14-6 overall on the year, while the Lady Rams fell to 2-8.
Although Valdosta State stranded 12 runners and grounded out 17 times in the first of two on the day, the Blazers still managed to outlast the Lady Rams thanks to 10 VSU hits and one costly error by Albany State in the fifth inning.
Karson King led off the fifth with a long fly ball to left field that was misplayed by Candace Blair. The dropped fly ball allowed King to cruise into second base before she was replaced by pinch runner Brandi Blount. A groundout by Shelby Altman moved Blount up to third, and Chelsea Canara plated the deciding run with a single through the left side to give VSU the 2-0 lead.
The only other run for Valdosta State came in the top half of the first inning when Altman, who has been red hot as of late, delivered an RBI single through the left side of the infield with runners at the corners to give VSU an early 1-0 lead.
Facing a two run deficit in the bottom half of the seventh inning, the Lady Rams put pressure on the Blazers with back-to-back walks to lead off the frame. A sharp ground ball was handled by Hannah Strickland at third base, where she stepped on the bag to get the lead runner before throwing to first to attempt the double play. The throw at first was late, and the runner at second was able to move up to third on Strickland’s throw to first.
With runners at the corners, pinch runner Jadae Taylor, who represented the tying run, attempted to steal second and place herself into scoring position. Courtney Albritton gunned down Taylor with a perfect throw to deny the attempt, but Chaconna Marks was able to score on the throw down to cut the Blazers lead to 2-1.
Two batters later, Brianna Hancock held the Lady Rams at bay by striking out Anria Peterson for the final out. The strikeout was one of 13 for the senior hurler in the contest.
Along with a slew of strikeouts, Hancock allowed just one hit in a complete game effort that gave the senior her seventh win of the year. Her overall record for the 2014 campaign now stands at 7-3.
In game two, Valdosta State managed just six hits against ASU pitcher Chelsea Ricks, but the Blazers were much more efficient than in game one, as they left just three runners stranded over the course of seven innings.
VSU struck quickly in the second contest, manufacturing a run with a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly that brought in Albritton, who led the game off with a rocket over the head of ASU’s left fielder for a leadoff double.
Two innings later, Albany State took advantage of a free trip to first base, as Toni Coleman was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Coleman was able to move up on a groundout to third base and came in to score on a long double to left by Domonique Bryant that landed at the base of the wall. Bryant’s timely RBI two bagger knotted the contest up at 1-1, a score which held until the fifth inning.
Altman sparked the Blazers again in the fifth inning with a leadoff double and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Canara. The Lady Rams made an attempt to throw Altman out at third on the sac bunt, but the throw was late and allowed Canara to reach as well. With runners at the corners and Strickland at the plate in the next at bat, a wild pitch allowed Altman to score to give the Blazers a 2-1 lead. Meanwhile, Brittany Britt, who pinch ran for Canara earlier in the inning, advanced all the way to third. In the following at bat, Morgan Butler answered the call as a pinch hitter and ripped an RBI single to left field to open up a 3-1 lead for VSU.
The final two runs for Valdosta State came in the sixth, a productive inning that was triggered yet again with an early inning double. In the second at bat of the inning, Rusen blasted a one out double into left center field and gave way to pinch runner Blount. In the ensuing at bat, King followed with a walk and was replaced by Halie Imler before Altman walked to load the bases. Canara capitalized on the opportunity with a single to left that drove in her second RBI of the day, and Strickland followed with another single that brought in the fifth and final run for Valdosta State.
Despite allowing one additional run in the bottom of the sixth, Maci Fletcher held off the Lady Rams to move to a perfect 3-0 on the season. The freshman’s final line included seven innings pitched, one walk, and three strikeouts. She kept the game in control throughout by inducing twelve ground outs.
Valdosta State now looks ahead to the next Gulf South Conference series, which kicks off this weekend at Steel’s Diamond at Blazer Park. The Delta State Lady Statesmen will come to town on Saturday to open up a three game weekend series. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 p.m..