Valdosta Daily Times

March 30, 2013

VSU softball swept for first time since 2011

The Valdosta Daily Times

FLORENCE, Ala. — North Alabama hit three home runs in the first game and took advantage of four Valdosta State errors in the second and handed the third-ranked Valdosta State softball a pair of conference losses.

It is the first time the Blazers were swept in a doubleheader since April 22, 2011, when they lost to Alabama-Huntsville.

On Friday, as the Lions swept the Blazers 7-3 and 6-3, handing VSU its sixth loss in Gulf South Conference play.

The Blazers (25-8, 10-6) jumped out to early leads in both games as they scored runs in the first inning both times.

Courtney Albritton doubled to open the first game and scored when an Ashley Steinhilber grounder was misplayed with two outs to give VSU a 1-0 lead.

North Alabama (28-10, 13-7) took the lead in the second inning when Nicki Whitten hit a home run with two runners on, only to have VSU fight back to even the game.

Albritton scored again in the third inning as she again led off the frame with a double and moved to third on a Morgan Johnson single. Shelby Altman hit a sacrifice fly to allow the sophomore to cut the Blazer deficit to 3-2.

A Hannah Strickland sacrifice fly in the fourth plated Kiley Rusen to even the game, but the Lions got two home runs in the six inning, including a leadoff shot from Whitten and a two-run home run from Ashley Bonner while Summer Wilkerson also collected an RBI single in the inning.

Brianna Hancock fell to 9-3 as she allowed eight hits and five earned runs in 5.0 innings. Meanwhile, Breanna Riley improved to 12-4 as she allowed only one earned run in a complete game.

A Steinhilber sacrifice fly plated Albritton in the top of the first inning of game two while the Blazers added two more runs in the second to take a 3-0 lead. Morgan Johnson singled home sister Fran in the second while Albritton scored on an Altman hit to give Valdosta State its three-run advantage.

North Alabama quickly got back in the game as it took advantage of three Altman errors in the third inning to score three runs. A Fran Johnson error in the fourth allowed the Lions to take a 4-3 lead while Whitten added a run-scoring single in the fifth, as did Mallory Patterson in the sixth.

Hanna Lythberg fell to 6-2 as she gave up 10 hits and six runs, four earned, in a complete game while Kayla Sneed improved to 7-0 after allowing seven hits and three runs in 7.0 innings.

Albritton was 3-for-6 with three walks and four runs scored to lead VSU offensively in the doubleheader. Altman also had three hits while Rusen and Morgan Johnson had two each.

Valdosta State returns to action Saturday when it travels to Jackson, Tenn. to take on Union. The start of the doubleheader has been moved to 11:00 a.m. due to rain forecasted for later in the day.