The Valdosta Daily Times
The Valdosta State Blazer softball team put together a strong effort in a Gulf South Conference doubleheader in Carrollton on Saturday to defeat the West Georgia Wolves 7-3 and 5-0.
The afternoon sweep boosted the Blazers to a 35-12 record overall and a 15-9 stint in GSC play. The pair of losses for West Georgia dropped the team to 19-23 overall, 1-15 in conference play.
The third inning proved to be the decisive one for Valdosta State in game one, as the Blazers scored five runs on three hits and a costly throwing error by the Wolves' first baseman Amanda Voyles. April Collins, Courtney Albritton, and Shelby Altman all reached to start off the inning, before Kiley Rusen grounded to first. Voyles fielded the grounder and took a shot at Collins as she tried to score from third, but an errant throw allowed both Collins and Albritton to score. Chelsea Canara and Hannah Strickland followed with consecutive singles to drive in an additional three runs, which put the Blazers in front 5-0 midway through the third.
The momentum continued for VSU in the bottom half of the inning with a strong throw to the plate from Fran Johnson in right field to cut down Mackenzie Arlt, who tried to score on a single by Voyles with two outs. The play denied the run for the Wolves' and kept the shutout intact after three.
The Blazers added a pair of runs in the top of the fourth with a two-run blast off the bat of Altman, which accounted for her 19th home run of the season. The long ball in game one put the Blazers ahead 7-0 in the fourth, and lifted the Blazer shortstop's league-leading RBI total to 61.
Brianna Hancock's shutout bid was decimated by West Georgia's Nicole Yancey, who clubbed a solo home run over the right field wall to lead off the bottom half of the fourth. The long ball was the 58th of Yancey's career and put the senior in the record books as the all-time Gulf South Conference home run leader.
Hancock ran into control issues in the fifth and allowed the Wolves to cut the deficit to 7-3 when she walked Yancey and hit Jordan Corbin with the bases loaded. Head Coach Thomas Macera stuck with his senior hurler though, and she responded by drawing a pop up to first to limit the damage.
The game one victory pushed Hancock's record to 16-5 on the year. Aside from the fifth inning hitch, Hancock struck out 13 batters and was in control for a majority of the afternoon. The outing marked her 14th complete game of the 2014 season.
The second game of the afternoon was highlighted by a no-hitter for VSU sophomore Caitlyn Calhoun (7-3). West Georgia's offense reached second base only two times in the game, and The Blazer freshman dominated the Wolves' lineup with 10 strikeouts to pick up her second shutout win and her first no-hitter of the year.
The Wolves handed the Blazers an early lead after committing two errors in the top of the first inning. Hannah Strickland made the Wolves' pay with an RBI single to drive in Albritton and give VSU a 1-0 lead, and Altman came in to score during the ensuing at bat by way of a passed ball. The third and final run of the frame was plated by Johnson, who delivered a successful squeeze bunt to bring in Strickland from third and put the Blazers in front 3-0.
The squads traded scoreless innings until the top of the seventh, when Strickland and Rusen ripped back-to-back RBI singles to right field and center field, respectively. The pair of runs pushed the Blazers' lead to 5-0, which was more than enough for Calhoun, who finished off the Wolves in the bottom of the 7th.
Strickland's two RBI's in the second game lifted her total on the day to four, and her 3-for-7 effort in the doubleheader lifted her average to .336 on the season.
The Blazers will close out the three-game set tomorrow afternoon at Carrollton with a 1 p.m. finale.