VALDOSTA –– The No. 9 Valdosta State softball team puts its eight-game winning streak on the line this weekend as it travels to Montevallo for a three-game, Gulf South Conference series against the Falcons. The series is set for a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 4 p.m. ET, followed by a single game Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

Fans can access links to live stats and streaming for the series at vstateblazers.com on the softball schedule page.

Valdosta State enters with an 8-1 record overall and a 6-0 mark in the GSC to lead the league. The Blazers swept a three-game series against Mississippi College this past weekend in the 2021 home-opening series. VSU hit .300 for the series against the Choctaws, while belting nine home runs and scored 20 runs. Freshman Aniston Gano hit a team-best .571 with four hits in seven at bats, scored three runs with two home runs and drove in six to earn GSC Freshman of the Week honors and selected as one of the top performers last week by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. Junior Nicole Pennington blasted three round-trippers on the weekend on each of her hits for the series. In all, five different Blazers hit home runs in the series.

In the circle, sophomore Samantha Richards earned back-to-back GSC Pitcher of the Week honors as she went 2-0 with a 0.48 ERA in 14.2 innings. She appeared in all three games with two starts, two complete games and one save. Richards then was named NFCA National Pitcher of the Week for her efforts against the Choctaws. Richards and the VSU pitching staff held MC to a .123 batting average and allowed just seven runs in the series for a 1.75 ERA in 20 innings of work.

Montevallo enters with a 5-7 record overall and a 3-3 mark in the GSC. The Falcons won two of three last weekend versus Union and won one of three against GSC preseason league favorite Alabama Huntsville the previous week. Montevallo won 6-1 to open the series against UAH and dropped the rubber match 8-6 as UM held a 3-2 lead through four innings.

As a team, the Falcons are hitting .326 for the season on 98 of 301 from the dish. UM has scored 72 runs with 18 doubles, four triples and six home runs while driving in 65. The team is slugging .472 and reaching base at a .435 clip with 50 walks and ten hit batsmen.  Montevallo is 24 of 28 on the base paths and has 22 errors leading to 19 unearned runs.

Individually, Kinley Adams leads the team with a .552 average from the plate on a team-best 16 of 29. She has scored a team-high ten runs with three doubles and one triple, while driving in six. Adams is slugging .724 for the season and reaching base at a .606 clip with four walks. She is a perfect 6 of 6 in stolen bases. GSC Player of the Week, Lauren Higginbotham, is second in average hitting .524 with 11 hits in 21 at bats. She has scored seven runs with two doubles and two triples while driving in a team-high 14. Higginbotham is slugging .810 and reaching base at a.600 clip. She is 3 for 3 in stolen bases. Sawyer Martin and Hannah Carey lead the team with two home runs each.

Montevallo has used seven pitchers this season and boasts a 4.14 ERA in 71 innings of work. The staff has five complete games with two shutouts and has surrendered 84 hits, 61 runs – 42 earned, walked 25 and fanned 47 as teams are hitting .293 against it. Sierra Easternwood leads the team with a 0.50 ERA and a 2-0 record in three starts with one shutout.  Mychael McMillan has pitched a team-high 22 innings and is 2-1 with a 4.45 ERA. She has allowed 22 hits, 16 runs – 14 earned, walked seven and fanned 20 to lead the team. Kaylee Hawkins is second in innings pitched with 20.1, while she has a 1-4 record and a 1.38 ERA. Hawkins has allowed 18 hits, 16 runs – four earned, walked eight and fanned 12.

VSU leads the all-time series with Montevallo 4-1 and are 2-1 at Montevallo against the Falcons. VSU won two of three on Apr. 6-7, 2019, in the last meetings between the two teams.  The Blazers have outscored Montevallo 29-15 in the five meetings.

This season, the Blazers are hitting .325 with 77 hits in 230 at bats. The team has scored 68 runs with ten doubles and 14 home runs, while driving in 66. VSU is slugging .561 and reaching base at a .448 clip with 42 walks and five hit batsmen. VSU is 28 of 28 in stolen bases and has seven errors for the season leading to four unearned runs.

Individually, the Blazers are led by Gano among every day starters as she is hitting .409 for the season on 9 of 22 from the dish. She has one double, two home runs and ten RBI.  Gano is slugging .727 and reaching base at a .567 clip with seven walks and has been plunked once. Freshman Morgan Hill is second in average at a .406 clip. She has a team-high 13 hits in 32 at bats, while scoring 11 runs with one double and three home runs.  She has driven in 10, while she is slugging .719 and reaching base at a .486 clip. M. Hill is a team-best 7 of 7 in stolen bases. Pennington is third in average at a .370 clip and leads the team with 12 runs scored. She has 10 hits with two doubles and a team-high four round-trippers, while driving in a team-high 15. Pennington leads the team with an .889 slugging percentage and is reaching base at a .485 clip with five walks.

In the circle, VSU boasts a pristine 1.02 ERA in 55 innings of work as it has only allowed 23 hits, 12 runs – eight earned and walked just 12. The team has fanned 55 as the opposition is hitting just .128 against it. Richards leads the team with a 5-1 record and a 0.56 ERA in seven appearances with six starts. She has five complete games with one shutout and one save, while pitching 37.2 innings to lead the team. Richards has allowed just 15 hits, five runs – three earned and walked five, while she has fanned a team-high 39 as teams are hitting .122 against her. M. Hill is second in ERA at 1.14 in 12.1 innings of work and a 2-0 record in three starts. She has allowed five hits, four runs – two earned, walked six and fanned 12.

Following the series, VSU returns home for ten-straight games through the rest of March, beginning with a three-game series against Union, Mar. 13-14.

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