Valdosta, Ga. - Valdosta State came from behind yet again to defeat Gulf South Conference rival Alabama-Huntsville 5-3 in Game 1 of the NCAA Division II South Super Regional at Steel's Diamond at Blazer Park on Friday night.
The Blazers trailed until the bottom of the sixth, when the team rallied in front of a crowd of 762 to take a 5-2 lead. The highlight of the night came when Angela O'Connor pinch hit with Ashley Steinhilber aboard, and the sophomore blistered a two strike pitch off of the scoreboard for her first home run of the season to tie the game at two.
After the game tying home run, Les Stuedeman brought on GSC Pitcher of the Year Kimberly Jack in an attempt to limit the damage, but Kiley Rusen and Sarah Vaughn delivered back to back singles, followed by a two RBI double to right center by Fran Johnson. Hannah Strickland maneuvered a slow roller by third baseman Abby MacKay and into left field to place runners at the corners for Courtney Albritton, who picked up her third hit of the night and collected an RBI with a sharp grounder through the left side to score Fran Johnson and give the Blazers a 5-2 advantage heading to the final inning.
The Chargers (42-16) threatened in the top of the seventh and sent seven batters to the plate, but Brianna Hancock, who pitched the entire seven innings for the Blazers and acquired her 20th win of the season, allowed only one run to score, securing the Blazers first victory of the Super Regional.
Valdosta State got off to a shaky start in the top of the first when Charger designated player Brianna Sullivan led off the game with a walk. A sacrifice bunt moved Sullivan into scoring position before two more walks to Cortney McNett and Kathryn Whitlock. With the bases loaded, Hancock was charged with an illegal pitch which allowed Sullivan to score from third. However, Hancock was able to hold the Chargers to one run as she drew a pop-up in foul territory from MacKay, followed by a strike out to first baseman Nicole Bobrowski to end the top of the first.
Huntsville tacked on an unearned run in the second after shortstop Shelby Altman bobbled a chopper just enough to allow Meagan Billingsley to reach. Kellie Johnson sacrificed Billingsley to second with a bunt to the pitcher, and proceeded to steal third on a close play with Altman covering. Sullivan drove in the runner from third with a looper to left field to deliver the two out RBI.
Hancock managed to hold the Chargers scoreless for the next four innings, before allowing the final run for UAH to cross the plate in the top of the seventh. Alabama Huntsville threatened in the fourth with a leadoff double from Bobrowski, but she was stranded at third after three straight ground outs following the double.
Jack takes the loss for UAH. Her record now stands at 15-6 on the season.
The best of three series continues tomorrow at Steel's Diamond beginning at 1:00 p.m. The Blazers enter tomorrow's game with a 45-10 record on the season, and a 1-0 lead in the weekend series. Be sure to visit the NCAA Division II South Super Regional page for score updates, live stats, and webcasts for tomorrow's games.