CARROLLTON, GA – Courtney Albritton passed Marti Littlefield and set a new mark for the VSU all-time home run record with a fifth inning home run that helped the Valdosta State softball team secure a 7-1 victory over West Georgia on Sunday afternoon in Carrollton, Ga.
The afternoon triumph put an exclamation point on a three-game sweep of the Wolves and lifted the Blazers to 36-12 on the year, 16-9 in the conference. West Georgia concluded the weekend with a 19-24 record on the year and saw their GSC record drop to 7-16.
The Wolves delivered the first blow in the bottom of the second inning with a two out rally that included a single by Trinity Strickland, followed by a walk to Jessie Pruett and an RBI single by Mackenzie Arlt. Further damage was halted, however, when an overzealous Pruett was denied an attempt to go from first to third by a strong throw of Albritton from center field.
Facing a 1-0 deficit, the Blazer bats went to work and scored at least one run in each of the remaining five innings.
Valdosta State evened things up at one in the top of the third when Brittnay Britt, who pinch ran for Heather Robinson after a lead off single to begin the inning, moved into scoring position on a ground ball by April Collins before advancing to third on a passed ball. Britt scored the unearned run after Jordan Corbin failed to make a play on a Hannah Stricklandground ball.
After Brianna Hancock silenced the Wolves in the bottom of the third, the Blazers came to the plate for their biggest inning of the afternoon. Albritton worked a full-count at the plate to lead off the inning before depositing her 21st home run of the season over the right center field wall. With a full-season of eligibility remaining in 2015, the junior now has 57 career home runs. That number sets a new school record and places her just one behind UWG senior Nicole Yancey, who set a new GSC all-time home run mark on Saturday with the 58th of her career.
“Ever since my freshman year, besides Coach Macera, Marti has had the most influence on me as an all-around player and especially as a hitter,” said Albritton when speaking of passing Littlefield, who set the previous school mark at 56 during her 2009-12 career at VSU. “Her encouragement, eye for hitting, and example on the field has given me a whole new mindset in the box over the last three years. I feel blessed to have been given the chance to not only play with her, but also for her.”
The third inning continued with back-to-back walks by Shelby Altman and Strickland, who both moved into scoring position after a sacrifice bunt by Kiley Rusen. Rusen’s rare four-hole sacrifice set the table for Chelsea Canara, who ripped a clutch single to right that drove in both baserunners and gave the Blazers a 4-1 advantage.
Canara wasn’t done in the third though. The freshman increased her RBI total to three on the day with a seventh inning home run that opened up a 7-1 lead for the Blazers. The long ball was the fourth of the season for Canara and helped Hancock pick up her 17th win of the season.
Hancock allowed just three hits on the day and struck out seven. Her ERA on the season now stands at 2.77, and she has held opponents to a low .218 batting average this season. In addition, the win on Sunday marked the senior’s 15th complete game of the season.
Only one regular season series remains for the Blazers before the Gulf South Conference tournament, and it begins on Friday, April 18th as the Blazers host the Lee Flames for a doubleheader beginning at 5:00 p.m.. The series concludes on Saturday afternoon, with a single game at 1:00 p.m..
Stay tuned to www.vstateblazers.com this week for all things Blazer softball, including a preview later in the week for the upcoming series against the Flames.