By Anthony Gagliano
VALDOSTA -- Robin Williams and coach Heather Wolbers exchanged high fives and couldn't contain their excitement. The VSU softball team celebrated its biggest victory on Sunday, and the Blazers didn't have to do a thing.
After spending four anxious days waiting, the Blazers learned they were going to the Gulf South Conference tournament, thanks to West Alabama. The last-place Tigers pulled an upset of Lincoln Memorial Sunday, winning 10-5 to make VSU (26-38, 14-12 in conference) the East Division's No. 4 seed. The Railsplitters tightened the Blazers' nerves by winning a makeup game against West Georgia on Thursday and sweeping Saturday's doubleheader vs. UWA in convincing fashion, 14-6 and 6-1.
The loss Sunday dropped the two teams into a tie, which VSU broke by sweeping three home games from the Railsplitters (34-25) on March 19 and 20.
"I felt good from the beginning, knowing they had to win four straight," said Williams, echoing her coach's confidence.
Williams and Wolbers were in the VSU softball press box watching the Georgia Junior College state tournament Sunday when the auspicious phone call came. The rest of the team had to wait out the suspense a little longer for the information.
"I was around the field working on the crew, and (Wolbers) told everyone to leave, but she said, 'I got to talk to you,'" senior Amanda Edwards said. "She said, 'I know the standings for the conference tournament, and I thought 'Oh God,' but then she said, 'We're going.' She wanted me and (fellow senior) Jessie (Ortiz) to know first."
That was the plan, but Ortiz ended up being one of the last ones to find out. Studying at the library, she didn't realize everyone was leaving her messages on her phone.
"(Wolbers) told me the LMU score and said pack my bags," Ortiz said. "You don't understand how excited I was because after I heard those scores I was not thinking it was ever going to happen. But, my team told me not to give up faith this morning because the third time was the charm."
The Blazers will be going to Meridian, Miss., for the GSC tournament for the fifth straight year and face the West's top seed, Delta State (37-24), at 2 p.m. Friday. The two teams met April 15 at the GSC Crossover in Decatur, Ala., with the Statesmen winning 6-5 on a two-out, RBI single in the bottom of the sixth.