VALDOSTA -- Valdosta State's softball team reached the two-thirds point of the regular season high in confidence with a lessoned learned.
The Blazers (28-13) completed a three-game Gulf South East sweep of North Alabama Wednesday with a 3-0 win at the North Campus Softball Complex. But VSU's season-best 12-game winning streak ended with a 2-1 loss to UNA which counts against the team's South Region record but not the 11-4 conference record.
"Our girls saw those standings when they came out Tuesday. I hope they want to stay up there," said VSU head coach Kendra McDaniel. "The girls need to decide where they want to be and come out with some intensity every game, not slack up and come on at the end of the game."
Now comes the fun part. Of VSU's last 20 regular-season games, 15 are on the road -- beginning with this weekend's three-game series at West Georgia. Also ahead are four crossover games against Gulf South West foes (which now count in the Gulf South standings) and a four-game series at No. 16 Alabama-Huntsville.
VSU returns home April 10 vs. Albany State and a season-ending three-game home series April 18-19 with Lincoln Memorial. By then, VSU hopes to have earned a chance to defend its Gulf South Conference tournament championship.
Even with Wednesday's loss, the Blazers still have had a March to remember -- 22 wins in 25 games -- even with a long list of injuries. Two possible starters haven't played an inning, another is out with a broken leg and others have missed their share of time -- including leading hitter Ryann Ellingsworth, who missed the UNA series with an elbow injury. She has 129 hits in less than two seasons at VSU, and is hitting a team-best .417 this season.
"We need to get some injured people off the bench so we can have some depth," said McDaniel, adding that Ellingsworth should be available this weekend. "If this team was healthy and we played to our ability instead of our opponents' ability, we'd be unstoppable.
"Sometimes you have to have a reality check. And that's what today's second game was."
Angela Lauzon (15-7) earned her sixth shutout with a complete-game three-hitter in the opener. No runner safely got past first base. Lauzon pitched the first three innings of the nightcap, and was down 1-0 when she turned the game over to Brooke King.
In the opener, Holly Willis got the runs VSU would need with a two-run single, scoring Tiffany Moon and Tonya Coffey. Another run scored in the sixth when Ashley Thierer scored as Linsey Walker was caught in a rundown.
North Alabama's second-game starter Lauren Chunn (4-5) had her own pitching gem in the nightcap. Chunn had a perfect game through 4 1/3 innings before she hit Walker.
Willis opened the sixth with a single, the first of five VSU hits over the last two innings. Kathy Watkins looped a single over the left-side infielders to score Amanda Allgood.
In the seventh, VSU loaded the bases on Moon's fielder's choice, Willis' single and Jenny McDuffie's walk. But Caty Murray grounded out to end the threat and the game.
UNA (18-19) scored single runs in the first (Leah Haddock RBI single) and the fourth (Mandy Morin's RBI single).
Haddock had two of UNA's six hits.
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