Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

May 6, 2012

Charging ahead

Blazers beat UAH again, face Rollins today in final

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta State softball team used a fifth inning grand slam by Marti Littlefield to pull away and beat arch-rival Alabama-Huntsville 9-4 on Day 2 of the South Region I Tournament Saturday afternoon at the VSU Softball Complex.

“It felt amazing,” said Littlefield. “I had been on her the whole game, and she had been sliding pitches and I finally just sat back and drove one.”

Littlefield’s grand slam continued a monster break out inning for the top-ranked Blazers (50-3), who managed six runs in the frame to build an 8-2 lead. VSU has scored more runs in the fifth inning than any other inning this season.

“Usually, the old saying with us in the huddle is that we call the sixth inning ‘the Aflac inning,’ meaning we need some insurance,” said Valdosta State head coach Thomas Macera. “Usually we own the sixth inning, and this year it has changed a little bit. We are putting it together in the fifth inning. They find one inning they want to show out, and they do a good job at it.”

After Clare Wamsley began the inning with a fly out to left field, April Hutchens reached base on an error, which was followed by three straight singles from Courtney Albritton, Morgan Johnson and Samantha Posey. Then Littlefield blasted her grand slam clear over the center field fence, which sent the 534 screaming VSU fans into a ruckus, and ultimately secured the win for the Blazers.

“Four runs, we are already hitting well, and you put up a four-spot on anybody, it is tough for them to come back,” said Macera. “I think that really hurt (UAH). We just kept hitting the ball; I mean, we had 12 hits today.”

VSU added one more run in the inning. April Collins, who pinch ran for Natalia Morozova, scored on a sacrifice fly by Angela O’Connor.

UAH managed a solo home run by Abby MacKay in the top of the sixth inning, which was offset by another Blazer run in the bottom half of the inning, and a solo home run by Stephanie Needham in the seventh inning to bring the score to 9-4.

With the win, the Blazers are now a perfect 6-0 this season against UAH. Valdosta State advanced straight to the tournament championship game, which will be played today at 1 p.m. against Rollins, who beat UAH 4-2 Saturday night.

Valdosta State needs just one victory to advance to its second South Super Regional in three seasons. Rollins needs to sweep the top-ranked Blazers to advance, something that no team has been able to accomplish this season.

“Anything can happen,” said Macera. “We haven’t been swept all year, but again, it is ball, anything can happen. But it puts us in a small advantage, and it takes the pressure off, knowing we only have to win one (today).”

“It takes a lot of pressure off,” Littlefield added. “We haven’t been swept all year, and we aren’t usually a team that loses twice. We always hit the ball hard, and our hitting always comes through at some point.”

Alabama-Huntsville took an early 1-0 lead in Saturday’s game, as Mary Kelley scored on a single by Kathryn Whitlock.

VSU answered in the bottom of the second inning. Ashley Steinhilber reached base with a two-out single. The following at-bat, Steinhilber’s good friend Sarah Vaughn blasted a home run over the right center field fence to give the Blazers a 2-1 lead.

Vaughn is now batting over .500 with two home runs and seven RBIs against UAH this season.

The Chargers responded in the fourth inning. MacKay reached base on a walk, and was replaced by Sam Deep, who scored on a double by Meagan Billingsley.

VSU pitcher Alanna Hadley (27-2) was effective Saturday, pitching all seven innings and allowing four runs (all earned) on six hits. She walked two and struck out six batters, four of which came in the first four outs of the game.

“They are a great hitting team,” said Macera. “So, she gave up a few. Like I told her, ‘You are not going to shut everybody out in postseason play. The best teams are here.’ What she has to do is keep it close and give us a chance to play behind her, and that is what she did.”

The Blazers were aided throughout the day by impressive defensive plays, especially in the third inning, where all three outs came on tough plays. The first out came when Albritton snatched a home run clean out of the air in center field, timing her jump at the correct time to rob Needham of a homer.

For the next out, Hutchens was forced to field a ground ball far to her left — nearly behind first base — and she was able to make the throw from her knee to record the out.

Later in the inning, Littlefield was able to tag out UAH’s Kelli Long at third base after ranging to her left to field a ground ball.

“Smiley (Albritton) made a play out in center field on a line drive that could have gone out, and she had to go into the air to get it,” said Macera. “It showed off her basketball skills from high school, because she got us some ups there. And then Hutchens made a play over at first, that someone may think is easy, but anyone else, that is a base hit. So we had some really great defensive plays today. I am really proud of them.”

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • Former Blazer Kugbila out for season

    Now, after missing the 2013 season with a knee injury, this signals another hardship for the promising guard.

    July 25, 2014

  • LHS baseball signing Two Lowndes grads sign scholarships

    Lowndes graduates Henry Hoff and Nick Higginbotham decided to take the next step in their respective baseball careers together on Thursday as both signed a letter-of-intent with Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 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

Blazers Blog
More