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February 13, 2014

Blazer Softball snaps FIT's win streak with split

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta State softball team lossed their second straight game with a 4-3 loss to the Florida Tech Panthers before bouncing back to win game two 10-0 in NCAA Division II softball action on Wednesday afternoon in Melbourne, Fla..

In a heartbreaking game one loss, the Blazers held a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning before allowing the Panthers to take a one run lead with a pair of runs that scored on a passed ball and a wild pitch.

Trailing 3-2 to begin the sixth, Jessica Callahan lined out to April Collins in left field before Ashley Montion reached on a single through the left side to represent the tying run at first base. Leonard then came on to pinch run for Montion, and moved to third on a double by Taylor Peterson.

With Elizabeth Eby at the plate, the Blazers gave up their one run lead without a ball being put into play. Leonard scored from third on a passed ball, and Peterson came in during the same at bat on a wild pitch to give the Panthers a 4-3 advantage, a score which would hold through the remainder of the contest.

Two of the Blazers three runs in the game came on a two run blast by Courtney Albritton, her fourth of the year, that drove in Collins, who had reached previously on a bunt single. Albritton finished the day 4-7 in the double header with four RBI's, and improved her season average to .441.

The home run by Albritton was the first long ball given up by FIT's Rachel Pence this season. Pence, the reigning Sunshine State Conference Pitcher of the Week, entered the contest with a perfect 4-0 record alongside a miniscule 0.47 ERA. Albritton doubled the number of earned runs allowed by the freshman pitcher this season with one swing of the bat in the third to give the Blazers an early 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the same frame, the Panthers answered with two runs of their own. Elaine Brown ripped an RBI double to cut the Blazers lead to one, moved to third on a fielder's choice, and came in to score on a sacrifice bunt by Callahan to tie the score at 2-2.

The Blazers' third run came in the fourth inning when Chelsea Canara broke the tie with a clutch two out single to bring Hannah Strickland in to score. Collins attempted to score from second on the same play, but was cut down at the plate on a strong throw from Brown in left field for the third and final out.

In game two, the Blazers rebounded with a vengeance, as the team busted open an abbreviated 10-0 five inning win.

A majority of Valdosta State's runs came in the fourth inning, as the Blazers took advantage of a series of miscues by the Panthers. Three errors by FIT in the half inning, along with five VSU hits, allowed the Blazers to jump out to a 7-0 lead.

The highlight of the fourth inning was two-run bomb by Rusen to right center field. Hitting in the third hole for VSU this year, the Blazer first basemen has been highly productive. Her efforts on Wednesday boosted her RBI total on the year to a team high 13, and her home run total to three.

Brianna Hancock suffered her first loss of the year and fell to 4-1 with VSU's game one loss, while Rebekah Kiser improved her season record to 3-2.

The split moved the Blazers to 8-3 on the year and VSU's win in game two dealt Florida Tech their first loss of the season, as the Panthers are now 9-1.

Valdosta State opens up Gulf South Conference action this weekend at Steel's Diamond at Blazer Park with a three game series against the visiting Shorter Hawks. The series begins with a Saturday double header, with the first pitch scheduled for 1p.m.

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