Valdosta Daily Times

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March 16, 2014

Valdosta State softball opens weekend series with two wins

LIVINGSTON, Ala. — Valdosta State Blazer softball took two over the West Alabama Tigers with a pair of 9-6, 10-1 wins in Gulf South Conference softball action on Saturday.

The wins improved the Blazers to 22-8 overall and 8-5 in GSC play, while the Tigers fell to 15-15 overall, 5-9 against league opponents.

A game one pitching duel after three innings quickly turned into a slugfest in the fourth, as Heather Robinson blasted a two run no-doubter over the left field wall four batters before Courtney Albritton smoked a long ball of her own over the centerfield wall to plate two additional runs and give the Blazers a 4-1 lead.

Prior to the big inning for Valdosta State, West Alabama's Jessica Brock had taken a no hitter through three innings. She was unable to escape the fourth after the pair of Blazer homers, however, and was forced to give way to Skylar Davis, who escaped the inning with no further damage.

In the fifth, Shelby Altman led off with a single through the left side and moved up to third on a heads-up base running play, as the Tigers failed to cover third on a Chelsea Canara sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, Fran Johnson delivered an RBI groundout to put the Blazers in front 5-2.

Caitlyn Calhoun, who came on for Brianna Hancock in the fourth, cruised through the fifth inning before running into trouble in the sixth. UWA's Lydia North was hit by a pitch to open the half inning and moved up to second on a passed ball before Rebecca Schick flied out to left.

A misplayed fly ball in left field allowed

Miriah Chavez to reach while North advanced to third. The Tigers took full advantage, as Taylor Miller singled up the middle with two away to cut the Blazers' lead to 5-3. One batter later, Anna Shartzer hit a three run home run over the center field wall to put the Tigers in front 6-5.

Faced with their last opportunity with a one run deficit in the top of the seventh inning, the Blazers offense came through, as Altman singled to lead off the inning and Canara and Hannah Strickland both reached to load the bases. Tiger pitcher Taylor Tucker induced a foul out to third by Johnson and struck out Robinson, which left it all up to freshman catcher Kelly Gordon, who ripped a ground ball to short that Chavez couldn't handle. Both Altman and Canara crossed the plate on the play to give the lead back to the Blazers, and April Collins came up with her second infield single of the game to plate an additional insurance run.

Maci Fletcher entered in the bottom of the final frame with a 9-6 advantage, and picked up her first save of the season, and the offensive support in the top of the seventh afforded Calhoun her fifth win of the year (5-1).

Tucker was handed the loss for the Tigers after coughing up the seventh inning lead and fell to 1-3 on the year.

In game two, each team scored a run in the early innings before Strickland connected for a two run single that drove in two of her three RBI's in the game.

One inning later, Canara added insurance for the Blazers when she hammered a grand slam home run to left center. The four runs opened up a 7-1 lead for Valdosta State, and proved to be more than enough for Fletcher, who allowed just one run and five hits in the abbreviated five inning game to improve her season record to a perfect 7-0.

Additional run support for Fletcher came in the top of the fifth on a three run shot by Altman that increased Valdosta State's lead to 10-1.

The Blazers go for the sweep over the Tigers this afternoon in Livingston with a 2 p.m. EST series finale.

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