Southaven, MS -- Valdosta State started its bid for a fourth consecutive Gulf South Conference Championship with two victories at the GSC Tournament Friday. The Blazers put away West Georgia, 14-3, and outlasted Delta State, 5-3, to advance to face Alabama-Huntsville at 12 p.m. Saturday and improve their record to 45-3.
Morgan Johnson and Clare Wamsley put up outstanding numbers with a six for seven day and a four for six day respectively. Johnson scored three runs, hit three doubles and tallied two RBI while Wamsley led the team in runs with four, two of which were doubles.
Also providing strong hitting support was April Hutchens with a .500 day, going two for four with three runs scored. Courtney Albritton led the way in RBI with seven, knocking six in the win over UWG starting with a grand slam to take the lead. Samantha Posey added five RBI with a three-run homer of her own, VSU’s third of the day. Ashley Steinhilber added two RBI on VSU’s second home run of the day while Marti Littlefield and Natalia Morozova added an RBI each.
Brianna Hancock started the day in the pitcher’s circle for VSU. In 2.2 innings she gave up three runs and five hits with two walks. She struck out four. Courtney Gunby produced in relief, only allowing one hit in 2.1 innings. Alanna Hadley notched another complete game against Delta State, giving up seven hits and three runs in seven innings. She walked one and struck out five.
In an early surprise, West Georgia scored three runs on a Nicole Yancey homer in the top of the first inning for the early lead on Valdosta State. The Blazers didn’t answer in the bottom of the inning, but, after holding the Wolves scoreless in the second inning, tallied nine runs with two outs in the bottom of the second. Valdosta State added five more runs in the third.
With bases loaded and two away in the second, Albritton smacked her grand slam to suddenly put the Blazers ahead, 4-3. After the bases cleared, Johnson singled followed by doubles from Posey and Littlefield. Johnson scored on Posey’s hit while Posey came in on Littlefield’s. Morozova was next to reach base thanks to an error from the second baseman. Steinhilber decided to punctuate the inning with another home run, this one for three runs.
West Georgia was finally able to end the inning but could not score in the third. The Blazers still had more work to do. Wamsley started the third with a double and Hutchens followed with a walk. Albritton plated both runners with a double. Johnson was the next to hit, knocking a double to place two more runners on base. That’s when Posey took advantage and sent VSU’s third homer, a three-run shot, down the left line. The Blazers didn’t look back after that and ended the game by run rule after four and a half innings.
Runs came much tougher against Delta State as the Blazers started against the DSU ace, Brittany Gonzalez. Valdosta State was able to score a run in both the second and third innings for the early 2-0 advantage.
Littlefield singled to start the second and Morozova knocked her in with a double down the left line. In the third, Wamsley singled to start and Johnson plated the run with a double to centerfield. After a scoreless fourth inning, Hutchens started the fifth inning with a single. She scored on a double from Johnson, who then scored on a sacrifice bunt from Posey. The Blazers added one more run in the sixth. After her own double, Wamsley scored on a double from Albritton for a 5-0 lead.
Delta State, serving as the home team, made a comeback bid with three runs in the bottom of the sixth. The leadoff hitter was hit by a pitch followed by a double from Amber Adcock. Taylor Holland knocked a single to left centerfield to plate both runners. Next, Ashleigh Allgood reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on a single from the ninth hitter.
The Blazers went scoreless in the top of the seventh and only allowed a bunt in the bottom of the inning to secure the win. After giving up a leadoff bunt to Maggie Jackson, Hadley retired three consecutive batters, catching the final hitter looking.
Saturday the Blazers will square off against rival Alabama-Huntsville at 12 p.m. The game can be seen at the GSC website, www.gscsports.