Valdosta - Head Coach Thomas Macera shook up the lineup in the Blazers final game of the three game weekend series against Gulf South Conference opponent Shorter, and the Valdosta State softball team responded in a big way with a 10-2, six inning win over the Hawks at Steel's Diamond on Sunday afternoon.
"We just had to move a few people around and figure out some things today," said Macera about Sunday's adjustments. "We're working on trying to put together the best lineup we can."
Valdosta State's record improved to 9-5 overall, and the win moved the Blazers to 1-2 in GSC play. The loss was the first of the season for the Hawks against a GSC opponent and dropped Shorter's record to 2-1, 6-6 overall.
After the Hawks went quietly in the top half of the opening inning, Courtney Albritton led the Blazers' half of the frame off with a bang. The reigning Gulf South Conference Player of the Year gave Valdosta State a 1-0 lead when she tomahawked Christina Ezell's high offering into the parking lot beyond the left field wall for her second home run of the weekend and her sixth of the season.
Shorter evened the contest back up at 1-1 with a Paige Rowland homer to left field to leadoff the second inning, but Hancock pitched around two additional singles in the half inning to limit the damage and keep the score tied.
Valdosta State reclaimed the lead in the fourth inning on an unearned run that scored with two outs when the Hawks' shortstop Kendall Johnson failed to make a clean throw on an attempt to gun down Heather Robinson at first base. The errant throw with runners on the corners allowed Brittany Britt to score from third and put the Blazers up 2-1.
Hancock, who improved her record to 5-2 with Sunday's win, continued to cruise in the fifth inning and held the Hawks scoreless for the third straight frame before Valdosta State came to the plate for one of two big innings on the afternoon.
Albritton ripped a sizzling one hopper past Kameron Carter at third base for a leadoff single, and April Collins followed with a beautiful bunt single to the left side of the infield. With the two leadoff runners aboard, the heart of the Valdosta State lineup delivered with three doubles in four at-bats. The five hit inning was good for four insurance runs and gave the Blazers a 6-1 advantage after five.
Shorter plated an additional run and cut the team's deficit to 6-2 with a leadoff home run from Shorter second baseman Felicia Morris in the top of the sixth, before Hancock went through the next three batters in order.
The Blazers finished off the Hawks in the bottom half of the sixth with their second straight four run inning that included a two run triple into the right field corner off the bat of Kiley Rusen. Representing the game winning run, Karson King blasted her third home run of the year off of the scoreboard in left center field to give the Blazers the victory on account of the mercy rule.
"We just played better today," said Macera. "We came into today's game talking about just trying to play the game. These girls aren't going to lay down. They responded well, came out and fought, and just played a lot better as a team today."
Rusen finished the afternoon with three RBI's, and pushed the Blazer first baseman's season total to a team high 16. In addition, Shelby Altman delivered a 2-for-3 effort with two doubles on the day.
King and Albritton both put together 3-for-4 days at the plate, and King upped her season RBI total to 14 with a team high four RBI's in Sunday's game.
The Blazers will get one day off tomorrow before hosting a double header on Tuesday at home. Georgia Southwestern is scheduled to travel to Valdosta to take on the Blazers starting at 3:00 at Steel's Diamond at Blazer Park.