Culman, AL - For the second time in as many days, the Valdosta State Blazer softball team defeated the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers 11-7 to claim their sixth consecutive Gulf South Conference Championship at Heritage Park in Cullman, Ala..
Valdosta State combined a balanced effort of pitching, strong hitting, and outstanding defense to claim the victory, as Courtney Albritton homered twice and Brianna Hancock delivered her 16th complete game of the season to move her record to 19-5.
The Blazers jumped out to an early lead with four runs in the first inning with four hits, including an RBI single by Shelby Altman, a two run single by Chelsea Canara, and an RBI double by Fran Johnson.
Huntsville collected one run in the bottom of the frame, before the Blazers extended their lead in the second with Albritton's 23rd home run of the year, a solo shot to left center field that opened up a 5-1 lead for the Blazers.
In the fifth inning, trailing 7-3, the Chargers cut the deficit to 7-5 after a two out, two run single off the bat of Victoria Frith that scored both Kaitlyn Bannister and Mallory McNeal.
Albritton struck again in the bottom of the fifth, however, with a monster shot to left center field that plated three runs and opened up a 10-5 lead for the Blazers after five innings.
We've been blessed with a long run and it's a testament to the players who have played here over the past several years," said Macera of the six-year championship run. "Year in and year out we've been able to stay competitive and consistent, and these girls continuously come through against tough competition."
The Blazers scored their eleventh and final run in the top half of the seventh inning when Johnson scored from first base after Bannister made an errant throw to first base on a Heather Robinson ground ball.
Alabama-Huntsville notched two more runs in the bottom of the seventh to make the score 11-7, but with two runners on base, Hancock struck out the GSC Freshman-of-the-Year, Tyler Harrison to end the game and lock up the victory for Valdosta State.
The Blazers will now be forced to wait until 10:00 a.m. EST on Monday to find out where they stand in the South Regional rankings. The decision will determine whether the Blazers will host the first round of the South Regional Tournament, or be forced to travel for NCAA postseason play. Stay tuned to www.vstateblazers.com for information regarding next weekend's schedule. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates.
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