The Valdosta Daily Times
There is no break in the Valdosta State softball lineup, as Delta State ace Miller Maddox found out Sunday.
Held to just one hit through two innings, the Blazers broke loose to pound the Statesmen 9-1 in just five innings at Steel’s Diamond. The run-rule win completed the sweep of the Gulf South Conference series for the Blazers, who won 10-5 and 13-1 on Saturday.
“It is a lot of stress on the other team’s pitcher because if you flatten one out, it can change a game,” VSU coach Thomas Macera said. “Everybody in the lineup can hit one out except for (April Collins) and she’s a slapper. But everybody in the lineup has hit a home run this year.
“(Maddox) has a 1.3 ERA for a reason. She’s good. She’s beaten some good teams. I don’t expect us to come out here and just beat everybody up. We’re not going to do that to anybody’s No. 1.”
The Blazers, who finished with 11 hits, got at least one from everybody in the lineup, including two from Kiley Rusen and Hannah Strickland. Rusen had the lone hit early as she doubled with two outs in the first.
“You can’t always just bomb them,” Macera added. “Sometimes you have to go through the order and figure out what’s working for them. Today, just the down pitch was working for them. That helped us out, knowing what we had to hit.”
But when Fran Johnson singled to open the bottom of the third, the Blazers (17-6, 5-3 in the GSC) found their traction offensively. Two outs later, Rusen reached on an infield single to score Johnson and then the big hits followed. Karson King plated Rusen with a double before Shelby Altman blasted a home run just beneath the scoreboard in left-center. The home run, Altman’s second of the series, tied her with Courtney Albritton for the team lead with six.
“Shelby is a good player, period,” Macera added. “She made a couple really good defensive plays today to go along with her stick.
“She’s just a really solid kid.”
That was plenty of run support for Maci Fletcher. After walking Delta State (8-12, 2-7) leadoff hitter Kassidy Tally in the first, only three other Statesmen reached against the freshman pitcher.
Tally proceeded to steal second base in the first and then advanced to third on an infield single from Amber Adcock with two outs in the inning when Altman, VSU’s shortstop made a diving stop but couldn’t get quite enough on the throw. Tally then scored on a steal of home when Adcock got herself in a rundown.
Fletcher hit Taylor Holland with one out in the second and again walked Tally in the third, but this time the DSU speedster was thrown out trying to steal second, just the third time she has been nabbed in 25 attempts this year.
“That’s all she did was that one hit and she’s just a freshman,” Macera said about Fletcher.
The Blazers kept on hitting, though, as they added two more runs in the fourthwhen Strickland singled and scored on an Albritton double. Collins then singled her home.
An inning later, Chelsea Canara sparked the final three-run rally with a two-out single. Strickland followed with a line drive off shortstop Ashley Mrozinski’s glove and freshman Heather Robinson, a Lowndes product, blasted the game-ending three-run home run to left.