Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

May 20, 2014

VSU begins national championship hunt against Wayne State

For the second time this postseason, Valdosta State will face a pitching staff that has been nearly unhittable.

The Blazers became the first team to have success against Tampa in the South 2 Regional, and now hope to repeat that Thursday when they open the NCAA Division II national championship tournament.

The first possible roadblock on the Blazers’ path to a second national championship in three years is Wayne (Mich.) State at 5 p.m. Thursday at the James A Moyer Sports Complex in Salem, Va.

This is Valdosta State’s third straight appearance at the national tournament with Blazers following up the 2012 crown with an early exit (0-2) last season in Salem.

The Warriors, 46-10, who are led by dual aces Lyndsay Butler and Briana Lee, won the Midwest Super Regional after dropping the first contest to host Missouri-St. Louis. Now Wayne State, which is making its third trip to the national tournament, puts those pitchers, who combined to strike out 494 batters in 351 2-3 innings while allowing only 202 hits and 62 runs — 45 earned — up against the powerful Blazers’ attack.

Valdosta State has one of the top offenses in the eight-team, double-elimination bracket, with 85 home runs to go along with a .334 average and 425 runs. Armstrong Atlantic, out of Savannah, also has hit 85 home runs with 413 runs and a .313 average, while top-ranked West Texas A&M has clobbered 103 home runs with 535 runs and a .358 average. Dixie State has a .375 team average.

The Blazers, who enter the tournament 45-14 fresh off a South Super Regional win at rival Alabama-Huntsville following the regional in Tampa, will depart for Virginia at 4 p.m. today from Steel’s Diamond.

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