VALDOSTA, Ga. – Valdosta State controlled most of game one, but showed how resilient the team can be with four runs in the fifth inning of game two to sweep No. 21 Alabama-Huntsville, 6-1, 4-3, and extend the team’s record-breaking winning streak to 31 consecutive wins. With the sweep, Valdosta State improves to 37-2 on the season and 20-0 in Gulf South Conference action. Alabama-Huntsville drops to 29-12 and 11-7.
April Hutchens led the team in hitting Saturday with a four for five performance, notching one run batted in and scoring two runs. Natalia Morozova was right behind her with a three of four day with a home run, two RBI and a run scored. Freshman Courtney Albritton was two for five but also hit a home run to finish with three RBI and two runs scored. Samantha Posey also knocked a homer while Marti Littlefield and Sarah Vaughn added an RBI each. Vaughn went two for three with a run as well.
The Blazers continued to receive great pitching from the VSU staff with Alanna Hadley leading the way. She picked up a win and a save Saturday while striking out seven. She gave up seven hits and one run in eight innings. Brianna Hancock pitched six innings, giving up three runs on six hits but struck out four.
Alabama-Huntsville struck first blood with a solo home run from Stephanie Needham in the top of the first. It was Needham’s 15th home run of the season, and she was a Blazer killer most of the day, going five of seven. But, Valdosta State answered back in the bottom of the first and didn’t look back the rest of game one.
Albritton was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a Morgan Johnson sacrifice bunt. She moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single from Littlefield to tie the game. Albritton didn’t stop there.
With two outs in the second inning, Hutchens singled to left field. To follow, Albritton notched two RBI with a home run over the centerfield fence. Valdosta State wasn’t done dropping bombs in the first game either. Posey knocked the second homer of the game, a solo shot, in the third inning. Later, in the fifth, after a Johnson walk, Morozova knocked her home run for the last two runs of the game to close out with a 6-1 victory.
Alabama-Huntsville looked to be in control most of game two until VSU’s four-run fifth inning. The Chargers actually outhit the Blazers, 8-4, in the second game, but Valdosta State was more efficient.
The Chargers scored first in game two when Kathryn Whitlock knocked Mary Kelley for the early lead. Then, in the third inning, Kelley scored again after singling. Whitlock knocked Kelley in on a sacrifice fly.
With a two-run lead, Alabama-Huntsville only gave up two hits in the first four innings. Then the fifth came. Morozova, the first batter, reached on a walk. Next, Angela O’Connor hit a grounder that Whitlock couldn’t handle for UAH. With two Blazers on base, Vaughn singled to score Morozova and complete a perfect two for two second game.
Hutchens was next up to bat and knocked in O’Connor with a single up the middle. Next, Albritton hit a deep ball that most fans thought was out of the park, but UAH centerfielder Mallory McNeal put her glove in front of the ball and dropped it. Two runners scored on the play for four runs in the inning and a two-run advantage.
Both teams went scoreless in the sixth, but the powerful UAH squad threatened in the top of the seventh. Pinch hitter Kelli Pullin walked to start the inning, and then Kelley doubled with one out. Needham singled next to score Pullin, move the tying run to third and put the potential winning run on first.
Hadley forced Whitlock to pop up to Littlefield and struck Abby MacKay out to clinch the game and extend VSU’s unbeaten streak and undefeated conference record.
Valdosta State will take to the road next for games against West Alabama and West Florida but return home to host Christian Brothers and Delta State at 1 p.m. each day on April 21 and 22.