The Valdosta State tennis teams continued to plow through the competition, as both the men's and women's squads defeated Tennessee-Martin on Friday.
The men, ranked No. 2 in Division II, shut out the Skyhawks 9-0, while the women earned a 6-3 victory at the VSU courts. Both teams remained undefeated and now have nearly two weeks off before facing BYU-Hawaii in Pensacola, Fla., on March 31. The women's team (11-0) lost to an undefeated BYU team in the first round of last year's NCAA Tournament, while the men (10-0) recorded a 5-3 first-round triumph against the Seasiders en route to the championship match.
On Friday, the men's team recorded its fifth shutout of the season, winning each of the six singles matches in straight sets. Top seed Eduardo Rincon, ranked No. 3 in the nation, won 6-1, 6-1.
The women stumbled in doubles against UT-Martin (4-2), losing Nos. 2 and 3 to fall behind 2-1. In singles, the Blazers dominated by taking Nos. 1-5, although top seed Eva Petschnig, No. 5 in Division II, and Marina Galey at No. 4 had to battle back from first set losses.
DII champs open at Fort Valley
The defending national champions will begin their quest for a repeat on Aug. 27 at Fort Valley State. The VSU football team played just 10 regular season games a year ago, although the Blazers got their fill of football with four playoff games.
This year, the team will have the maximum 11 regular season games, including six at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. However, things will start with at the Wildcats (7-4, 4-4 in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference).
"I look forward to renewing our rivalry," VSU coach Chris Hatcher said. "But, I never look forward to playing them."
The two teams had one opponent in common last season - Albany State. The Golden Rams beat VSU 24-22 in the 2004 season opener and ducked by the Wildcats by a point in the season finale, but the Blazers ended ASU's undefeated season in the South region final.
This year, the Rams are the season opener at Bazemore-Hyder on Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. The season has no byes with Ouchita Baptist coming to Valdosta the following Saturday to begin Gulf South Conference play.
The rest of the schedule is:
Sept. 17at Harding* 7 pm
Sept. 24Central Arkansas* 7 pm
Oct. 1at Delta State* 7 pm
Oct. 8Henderson St. * (Homecoming) 1 pm
Oct. 15at West Alabama* TBA
Oct. 22North Alabama* 1 pm
Oct. 29at S. Arkansas* 3 pm
Nov. 5West Georgia* 1 pm
* Gulf South Conference games
Gulf South play starts today
The VSU baseball and softball teams begin their conference play today on North Campus with doubleheaders against Lincoln Memorial. Both teams throw the first pitch at 1 p.m.
The Blazers baseball squad (12-9) has won four straight and six of its past eight to climb back above .500, although their momentum was stalled slightly with a rainout Wednesday at Thomas University.
All-American Robert Morgan carried his hot hitting from a year ago into his senior season (a team-best .412 average). However, when the team needs power, the Blazers turn to John McDonald and his team highs of four home runs and 22 RBI.
The Railsplitters are only 10-13, but it's quite an improvement after their 0-9 start.
This will be the first game of the season on the radio as Dick Rockey and Wes James will be broadcasting on WVLD 1450 AM ESPN Radio, starting at 12:50 p.m.
For softball, the doubleheader is just the fifth and sixth home games of the season. The Blazers (5-21) picked up some much-needed victories at the Francis Marion (S.C.) Tournament last weekend, going 2-3.
Catcher Robin Williams possesses the team's best bat, with a .299 average. Her seven home runs are two more than the rest of the team combined and her 21 RBI easily top the team. First baseman Holly Willis is batting .293, the only other regular above .250.
The Railsplitters enter today on a five-game losing skid, tied for worst in the GSC East.
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