Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

February 3, 2013

VSU softball opens title defense with pair of wins over Southern Arkansas

Albritton hits two homers, Blazers win 6-0, 7-3

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Valdosta State started the 2013 season the same way the Blazers ended 2012. In the 2012 NCAA Division II National Championship game, Courtney Albritton led off with a home run. She did the same Saturday in the season opener against Southern Arkansas. Valdosta State’s heavy bats continued throughout the day for five home runs en route to 6-0 and 7-3 victories over the Muleriders to start the season 2-0.

Albritton’s early homer set the tone for VSU. Morgan Johnson joined Albritton to make it four home runs on the day for the deadly duo. Johnson hit her first in the seventh inning of game one and they both knocked one out in the sixth inning of game two. Hannah Strickland jumped in on the action with fifth inning bomb in the opener.

Playing shortstop to start 2013, Albritton finished with five RBI on the day, three in the first game, and two runs on a three of eight performance at the play. Johnson went four for seven with two RBI and three runs scored while younger sister Fran Johnson, playing right field, finished three for five with an RBI and two runs scored.

In the first game, with a 1-0 run already in her pocket, pitcher Brianna Hancock and the Blazer defense shut Southern Arkansas down for no hits in the first three innings. By the time the Muleriders could tally a hit, VSU had already knocked the ball four times.

Hancock finished the game with five strikeouts and only allowed three hits in a full seven innings, facing 24 batters.

The Blazers would not score again in the opener until the fifth inning. Southern Arkansas walked speedy Fran Johnson and it proved to be a mistake. Johnson stole second and scored on an Albritton single up the middle.

After a quick three outs for SAU in the fifth, VSU put up two more runs, coming on a Strickland homer. Three more outs came and went for the Muleriders, but the Blazers closed out the seventh strong with two more runs. Morgan Johnson struck her first home run of the season, and then Shelby Altman scored after reaching on a walk.

Five runs in the final three innings were too much for Southern Arkansas to overcome. The Muleriders made a little bit of headway in the second game of the day, but not enough to knock off the Blazers.

Hanna Lythberg started the second game in the pitcher’s circle and put in five innings of work. She finished with five strikeouts and gave up one earned run. Caitlyn Calhoun carried the Blazers out in the final two inning with four strikeouts and no hits.

The battery provided more run support in the second game that turned out to be needed. The Blazers built up a quick 3-0 lead in the first two innings, but Southern Arkansas struck three runs in the fourth inning to tie it.

Johnson started VSU’s offense in game two with a single through the left side. Altman and Kiley Rusen followed with consecutive singles, then Karson King walked with the bases loaded to score Johnson. Strickland struck a sacrifice fly to right field to score Altman next.

Lythberg had a strong second inning, forcing a groundout and striking two out to bring the VSU bats back to the plate. Angela O’Conner led off with a single. Next, Ashley Steinhilber tried to use a sacrifice bunt to move O’Conner to second, but Southern Arkansas giftwrapped an error to allow Steinhilber to reach.

O’Conner was thrown out at home, but Steinhilber scored the next play when Albritton put the ball in play.

After a scoreless third, the Blazers gave Southern Arkansas a few gifts of their own. The Muleriders scored three runs on two infield errors. However, VSU answered in the fourth to stay in control of the game when Fran Johnson knocked in O’Conner, who led the inning with a double down the right line.

Both teams survived errors in the fifth, then VSU put the game out of reach in the sixth. Johnson legged out a single to the pitcher followed by Albritton’s second long ball of the day. At that, the Southern Arkansas coach was ejected. Morgan Johnson added an exclamation point with a solo shot to put the game out of reach. Three up, three down for the Muleriders in the bottom of the seventh.

Valdosta State will look to keep the early momentum in the 2013 season with a doubleheader against Young Harris at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • 150723-Lowndes_Brooks5.jpg Winding Down

    In its final 7-on-7 test of the summer, Randy McPherson was pleased with how the Lowndes football team looked Wednesday morning.
    Brooks County coach Maurice Freeman, on the other hand, was worried about the kind of hole the Trojans would have dug for themselves at Martin Stadium against the Vikings and Lafayette (Fla.) had it been a real game.

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Grable signs with Tampa Bay

    Another former Valdosta State football player joined the ranks of the National Football League when linebacker Jeremy Grable signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday morning.

    July 23, 2014

  • MaryAlice.jpg Just Keep Running

    Forrest Gump once said, "I used to run to get to where I was going, but I never thought it would take me anywhere." In the case of 18 year-old Mary Alice Smoot, anywhere is Tampa, Fla.
    After four years of unparalleled success running cross-country at Valwood, Smoot will continue running competitively next season at the University of Tampa.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10U ELITE World Series Champs.jpg DKSA Elite win USSSA Global World Series

    DKSA ELITE just continues to win, the 10U team’s latest victory came in the USSSA Global World Series held in Destin, Fla. July 8-12.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lowndes_McPherson.jpg Milestones on tap for upcoming season

    Some milestones are destined to occur, like when Georgia Christian hosts David Emanuel on Aug. 22 in the Generals’ first varsity football game since the late 1960s.
    Others will have to wait and see what continues to take shape come Friday when teams can begin fall practice, and especially Aug. 1 when teams can suit up in pads for the first time, such as can Valdosta win its record 24th state title, or can Lowndes capture its fourth state championship under Randy McPherson, or can Valwood and coach Ashley Henderson play in its third straight GISA state championship game?
    As we start to find out the answers to those questions in just a few short weeks — the regular season is just 31 days away — there should be a few more milestones for area coaches to mark 2014 right along with the Generals getting back on the gridiron.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ACC_Jimbo.jpg Back on top

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ACC_Petrino.jpg Petrino returns to Louisville for first ACC season

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Braves_Marlins JUpton.jpg Jones lifts Marlins past Braves in 10

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ant Smith.JPG Anthony Smith ready for new test in college

    Smith was a three-year starter as a Wildcat and quickly worked his way up as a leader on both the defense and the team as a whole.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • Wildcats participate in national 7-on-7 tournament

    The Valdosta High Wildcats have been working extremely hard this summer to prepare for the football season. Summer workouts and a plethora of 7-on-7 tournaments and competitions have kept the Wildcats busy.

    July 20, 2014

Blazers Blog
More