Valdosta State softball closed out the series against Gulf South Conference foe Christian Brothers with a five-inning, 8-0 victory on Sunday at Steel's Diamond to extend their current winning streak to ten games.
The Blazers (27-8, 11-5) enjoyed a continuance of their recent success at the plate to defeat the Lady Bucs (5-21, 1-14). During the ten game streak that began on March 9th against North Alabama, the Blazers have averaged an even ten runs per game, and have outscored their opponents 100-20. The team has connected for 21 home runs during that span, and the squad's collective batting average during the streak stands at .402.
The eye-popping offensive numbers go along nicely with the effort that Blazer pitchers Brianna Hancock, Maci Fletcher, and Caitlyn Calhoun have put together this month. Since the start of the winning streak, the Blazer pitching staff has accumulated 41 strikeouts against just ten walks, a 2.05 ERA, seven complete game victories, four shut-outs, and two no-hitters.
Hancock has led the way with a 1.29 ERA during that span and collected her 11th win of the year in Sunday's complete game shutout of CBU.
As they have done time and time again in recent weeks, the Blazer slugging corps gave Hancock plenty of room to work in the series finale, and it all started with leadoff hitter Courtney Albritton.
Albritton capped off her stratospheric ascension this week with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first inning to give Valdosta State an early 1-0 lead. The homer tied Albritton with West Georgia's Nicole Yancey for the league lead at 16, and served as her fifth round tripper of the weekend series.
Just one inning later, the Blazers continued to pour on the runs. Fran Johnson led off the second with a frozen rope into the right center field gap for a double, and moved up to third on a sacrifice bunt by Kelly Gordon. April Collins just missed a hit with a line drive that was snagged at third, before Albritton was hit by a pitch. With runners at the corners, Shelby Altman came to the dish and launched a high, three-run shot over the right center field wall to put VSU up 5-0. On the very next pitch, Kiley Rusen turned on Kim Adams' offering and sent it into the trees beyond the fence in right field to push the Blazers to a 6-0 advantage.
The final two runs of the game came in the bottom of the fourth, when Altman struck again to yank a two-run homer into the parking lot beyond left field and give the Blazers an 8-0 lead. The long ball was the Blazer shortstop's second of the day, her third of the weekend, and her 12th of the season.
Altman's efforts at the plate this year place her among the GSC leaders in several offensive categories, including batting average (.402, tied for 5th), hits (47, 3rd), runs scored (39, 2nd), RBI's (41, 2nd), doubles (10, tied for 2nd), home runs (12, 3rd), and total bases (93, 2nd).
In the midst of the big hits on the weekend, Chelsea Canara, Hannah Strickland, and Heather Robinson have done damage of their own at the plate and have seen their averages quietly ascend to .398, .326, and .278, respectively.
The special performance that Albritton assembled in the past five games is, admittedly, difficult to describe with just words. Since the start of the double header against Miles last Tuesday, the Sycamore, Ga. native hit safely ten times in 13 at bats (.769), with seven of those hits being home runs. The remaining three hits consisted of a double and two singles. During that same stretch, she drove in 13 runs, scored ten times, tallied 32 bases, and put up a slugging percentage of 2.462.
The Blazers will aim to continue their winning ways next weekend, when the team loads up and takes off for Jackson, Tenn. to visit the Union Bulldogs. The series begins with a double header on Saturday, March 29th at 2:00 p.m. EST, and concludes with a series finale that is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, March 30th.