Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

April 5, 2014

In her sights

Albritton is making her mark on GSC record book

VALDOSTA — As she begins a full-on assault of the Gulf South Conference record book, Courtney Albritton has a simple philosophy about it.

She doesn’t care.

The Valdosta State junior star already ranks in the top 10 of five different career categories as the No. 17 Blazers host rival Alabama-Huntsville, ranked No. 9, this weekend in a three-game series at Steel’s Diamond. The series begins with a 1 p.m. doubleheader today and concludes with a 1 p.m. game Sunday.

Still, while she sits just three home runs behind the career leader — UAH’s Stephanie Pinto who hit 57 from 2004-07 — she isn’t paying it any attention.

“With records, I don’t even think about it,” Albritton said. “I’m just playing the game and trying to win.

“It hasn’t crossed my mind. I don’t want to think about it.”

But what Albritton has done in her Blazers career is hard to miss. She has twice been named the conference’s Player of the Year. The Tiftarea Academy product has also been named an All-American in both of her years at VSU.

So far this year as a key cog in the Blazers’ 31-9 start, she has picked up where she left off.

“I knew her before she came here and that’s why I recruited her,” VSU coach Thomas Macera said. “I knew she could do it.

“There was no surprise in what she was going to do once she got here.”

Albritton is hitting .416 with 18 home runs, 53 runs scored and 41 RBIs this season. She hit .417 last season after a .432 average as a freshman. She has already surpassed her 16 home runs in 2012, and right behind the 20 she smacked last season, when she tied a conference record with 77 runs scored a year after scoring just 74.

Consistency has been her trademark.

She credits that to the help around her.

“I know I could never do it without all of my coaches and team support, too,” Albritton said.

And to a point, it’s true. During Macera’s nine years at the VSU helm, the Blazers have been known for their potent offenses. Offenses aren’t nearly as good without big bats throughout.

“No, they can’t pitch around here because you have Shelby (Altman) hitting right behind her that’s hitting .390,” he said. “And then you have Kiley Rusen hitting behind her that’s hitting .380. Who are you going to walk? You can’t walk them all. When you can protect hitters like that, somebody has to get pitched to.

“And they still pitch around her. They’re not intentionally walking her, they’re hoping she’ll chase something. But then what happens is somebody flattens a pitch out and she just doesn’t miss.”

One of those big bats that thrived under Macera’s tutelage was Marti Littlefield, now a graduate assistant with the Blazers. She is also one of the names Albritton is chasing throught the GSC record book, where she already resides in the top five in four different career categories. In addition to being third in home runs — Littlefield hit 56 from 2009-12 — Albritton is also currently third in batting average (.423), second in slugging percentage (.811) and tied for fourth in runs (204). She is also eighth in total bases with 464.

“Marti had a great career here,” Macera said. “She’s a two-time All-American. Marti put 25 home runs up in one season. Marti was a very, very good player. We’ve had great players here throughout my nine years here. Every year we’ve had great players. Every year we’ve had All-Americans.

“We work hard here. The girls buy into what we’re trying to do here and they put the time in. And again, you’ve got goodplayers. With the fanbase we have here and the support softball has here, it’s easy to recruit to. And when you hit year in and year out, that’s what we’re known for. And it’s a cumulative effect. They come here because of our track record then they work hard and produce like we know they can.”

Littlefield leads that total bases category as well as two other career columns and three more season ones. Her guidance has been instrumental to Albritton’s success as well.

“She’s been very supportive since the very beginning, her and (fellow grad assistant) Colette (Rollins) both,” Albritton said. “They’ve helped me a lot.

“When you have those slumps and stuff, they’re always the first two there to pick you back up.”

Still, the biggest reason for the stellar career of the shy Albritton is her immense talent. While she is quick to credit everybody else, Macera will sing her praises for her.

“She’s just a good player,” he said. “She’s just a really good player at a good program.

“You have to understand she’s just a marquee player. She’s a top player in the country. Not just at Valdosta State but in the country. She’s one of the best players in Division II softball. That’s why.

“She works hard. She puts in the extra work on her time, and all of that adds up to her success.”

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