FLORENCE, Ala. – Behind more great pitching and usual strong hitting, Valdosta State rained down on North Alabama more than the real rain that caused a brief delay Saturday. The VSU pitching staff only allowed two earned runs and seven hits with seven strikeouts while the battery put up 14 runs to help Valdosta State move to 23-2 overall and stay undefeated in Gulf South Conference play with 6-0 and 8-5 victories over the Lions.
Alanna Hadley only allowed three hits and no runs in seven innings of play to open the day. She struck out six and did not walk a Lion. Meanwhile, Courtney Gunby and Brianna Hancock teamed up against North Alabama in game two. Gunby allowed four hits, five runs (two earned) and struck out one. Hancock walked one.
Catcher Ashley Steinhilber led Valdosta State in batting with two runs batted in and a .500 average for the day. She finished with three hits and two runs scored. Natalia Morozova was also .500 on three of six with a run scored and an RBI while Morgan Johnson scored three runs in a two for five performance with an RBI.
Also notching RBIs on the day were Samantha Posey (three hits) and Courtney Albritton (two hits).
Steinhilber scored the first run of the day. After she was hit by a pitch for a team-leading tenth time, she moved to second on a bunt from Erika Trojan and to third on a sacrifice from Clare Wamsley. Albritton struck out, but the catcher dropped the ball so everyone advanced a base with Steinhilber scoring.
In the fifth inning, Fran Johnson scored VSU’s second run, pinch running for Marti Littlefield. Littlefield singled, then moved to second on a sacrifice from Morozova. After moving to third on another passed ball, Johnson scored on a Steinhilber single to left field.
Finally, in the sixth inning, Valdosta State broke the game open. April Hutchens reached on an error to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt from Albritton, Morgan Johnson and Posey both singled with Johnson’s plating Hutchens. Next, Littlefield walked, then Morozova hit all three base runners in with a double to right centerfield. That would be all the Blazers needed to take game one.
Morgan Johnson scored the first run of game two after reaching base on a walk. She went to third on a double down the left line from Posey and scored on a UNA error.
In the third, Valdosta State put up four runs, two earned, for an early 5-0 lead. Morgan Johnson singled up the middle to start the inning and scored on a Posey double. Posey moved to third on a Littlefield sacrifice bunt and scored on a wild pitch. After that, Morozova walked and Steinhilber singled to right field. Both scored on a UNA error off the bat of Wamsley.
Valdosta State pushed the lead even further, up to seven, in the fifth. Angela O’Connor walked and eventually scored on an Albritton triple. Then Albritton scored when North Alabama committed another error, one of seven on the day, off the bat of Morgan Johnson.
North Alabama was able to answer with only one run in the bottom of the fifth, but Valdosta State added another run in the sixth. Morozova laid down a sneak bunt for a hit and scored on a Steinhilber single to left field.
That’s when the Lions put together a comeback bid and scored four runs, three of which were unearned, in the sixth inning. North Alabama started with a single, and then VSU committed an error two batters later. The Lions put another runner on with a fielder’s choice and then singled up the middle to score two runs.
On a far foul out, the Lions manufactured another run and then doubled for the fourth run to pull within three. Neither team could score in the seventh to keep Valdosta State undefeated in GSC play.
The Blazers will face conference foe Alabama-Huntsville at 3 p.m. Sunday.