FLORENCE, ALA. – In the final game of this weekend’s three game Gulf South Conference softball series against North Alabama, the Valdosta State Blazers salvaged the weekend and snapped an eight game winning streak for the Lions with a 9-5 victory at the UNA Softball Complex on a Sunday afternoon in Florence, Ala..
The victory improved VSU to 18-8 overall on the year, and lifted the team back over .500 in GSC play with a record of 6-5. UNA dropped to 20-6 overall, 9-3 in league play.
UNA freshman pitcher Hillary Carpenter, who blanked the Blazers in game one of Saturday’s double header, saw a revamped Blazer lineup on Sunday. The attack started right away for the Blazers in the first inning, when Courtney Albritton reached on an error by Lion shortstop Harlie Barkley. April Collins followed with an infield single, and Karson King was hit by a pitch two batters later to load the bases with one out.
The series of at bats in the top of the first layed the framework for Blazer shortstop Shelby Altman, who belted her seventh home run of the year to give the Blazers a 4-0 lead just five batters into the game.
The Lions scored two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI single and a sacrifice fly, but continued to apply pressure with one additional run in each of the next two frames.
Valdosta State’s run in the second came courtesy of a passed ball that scored Fran Johnson from third. The Blazer right fielder had reached earlier in the inning on a base hit to center field and moved around to third after a base hit and sacrifice bunt by Albritton and Collins, respectively.
Johnson saw another plate appearance in the third inning and came through again for the Blazers with a clutch, two-out single to the opposite field that brought Hannah Strickland in to score and gave the Blazers a 6-2 lead. Johnson delivered a perfect 4-for-4 performance at the plate for Valdosta State that also included another RBI in the seventh. The Macon native’s line included four hits, one stolen base, two runs scored, and two RBI’s.
Caitlyn Calhoun was called on to relieve Maci Fletcher early in the contest, and although she gave up two home runs in 5.2 innings pitched, each proved to be harmless, as they came with no runners on base. The win lifted Calhoun to 3-1 on the year.
The Valdosta State offense scored one or more runs in five of the afternoon’s seven innings, as the Blazers roughed up Carpenter in the circle, who entered the weekend as the league’s top pitcher with an ERA of 1.16 and an opposing batting average of .173. The loss for Carpenter was just her fourth of the season against her 11 wins.
Next up for Valdosta State softball, the Blazers return to TitleTown on Thursday, March 13th to host Lander in a twin bill that is slated for a 6:00 p.m. start at Steel’s Diamond at Blazer Park.