Valdosta, GA- No. 1 Valdosta State claimed a Gulf South Conference record for most consecutive wins with the team’s 28th and 29th victories Friday over North Alabama, 5-0, 5-1. The previous record was set by West Florida in 2005, but the Blazers own it now thanks, in large part, to freshmen Courtney Albritton and Angela O’Connor. The wins push VSU’s record to 35-2 on the season and 18-0 in GSC play.
Albritton and O’Connor both led VSU in runs batted in Friday with four each. Albritton knocked two home runs to give her a team leading 11 home runs on the season. She was three of six on the day with three runs scored. O’Connor hit a home run to break the tie in game two and a three-run double to bust game one open in the first inning.
To show how powerful VSU’s battery was on Friday, as good as Albritton and O’Connor were, they were the third and fifth hitters on the day for VSU. Ashley Steinhilber led the team with a three for four performance and one run scored. April Hutchens was three for five with a run scored, and Natalia Morozova was two for five with a run.
In addition to hitting, Valdosta State continues to play well on defense. Marti Littlefield started the great defensive play with an over the shoulder grab on a shallow pop up in the third inning. Meanwhile, outfielders Morgan Johnson, Albritton and Clare Wamsley were on point all day, each registering five putouts and firing the ball into the infield to hold runners.
The Blazers even managed two double plays on the day. In the sixth inning of the first game, Samantha Posey found Hutchens at second who threw to Morozova at first to catch both runners. In the opening inning of game two, Ashley Bonner of UNA lined out to Hutchens who swung the ball to Morozova in enough time to tag Julie Mercer tagging up.
Albritton led off with a single in the first game and made it to third on a sacrifice from Johnson. After Posey struck out, Littlefield reached on an error by the first baseman while Albritton scored the first run of the game. Next, Morozova walked and Steinhilber was hit by a pitch. That’s when O’Connor sent a double down the left line to score the three base runners for an early 4-0 lead.
Valdosta State added one more run in the third inning when Morozova scored on a Wamsley sacrifice, but that would be all VSU needed in the first game.
Alanna Hadley struck out six and walked one in seven innings to get her 18th consecutive victory. She allowed four hits and no runs to earn her ninth shutout of the season. Brianna Hancock improved to 10-1 on the season with a win in game two after six innings of work. Hancock gave up one run on seven hits and struck out one. Courtney Gunby came in for the seventh inning to earn her second save of the season. She struck out one.
Albritton again scored the first run in game two, but this time she did it all on her own with a solo home run. North Alabama was able to answer in game two, putting up a run in the fourth to tie. However, Valdosta State opened the game up with four runs in the fifth inning, three of which came on Albritton’s second home run of the game.
First, O’Connor led with a solo home run to gain the lead for VSU. Then Wamsley walked and Hutchens singled. With two runners on, Albritton sent one over the left center fence for the last three runs of the game.
Valdosta State will look to keep the streak going as Alabama-Huntsville comes to town at 2 p.m. Saturday for VSU’s third annual softball Pack the Park. The first 100 fans to come to the game will receive free t-shirts at the No. 1 Blazers host the No. 21 Chargers.