Blazers Win D2 National Championship
Louisville, KY - The Valdosta State Blazers are the 2012 NCAA Division II Softball National Champions after an impressive 4-1 victory over defending champion UC San Diego. The championship is Valdosta State’s sixth overall championship and first in softball. The win also marks the first softball national championship for the Gulf South Conference.
The championship game started with a bang for Valdosta State as freshman Courtney Albritton lifted a leadoff solo home run over the left field fence in her first at bat of the game. With the early 1-0 lead the Blazers played strong defense, only allowing one run to UC San Diego. That run came in the fifth inning and was unearned on an illegal pitch.
The NCAA Division II National Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Alanna Hadley struck five out in the game and fought through three illegal pitch calls. She gave up three walks, just three hits and a single run.
Valdosta State, meanwhile, added three more runs in the game, the first of which came in the fourth. Marti Littlefield singled and was replaced by Fran Johnson to pinch run. She moved to second on a Natalia Morozova sacrifice bunt and third on a single. Sarah Vaughn allowed Johnson to score when she hit a ball the UC San Diego right fielder couldn’t handle.
In the sixth inning, VSU notched two more insurance runs. Morozova led the inning with a walk followed by a crafty single bunt from Ashley Steinhilber. Both runners scored on a single from Clare Wamsley.
With the 4-1 lead, the Blazers looked for just three outs in the seventh. The final out was an unassisted play at third base by Samantha Posey.
Five Blazers were named to the National Championship All-Tournament team: Hadley, Posey, Morozova, Albritton and Morgan Johnson with Hadley taking home Most Outstanding Player honors.
The national champions will celebrate with the community at 12:30 p.m. at the softball facility and then again at 6 p.m. at Buffalo Wild Wings. The entire community is invited.
Blazers to Play for National Championship
Louisville, KY -- Valdosta State will play for an NCAA Division II National Championship for the second time in three seasons after an impressive 8-2 victory over Kutztown. The Golden Bears were previously undefeated in the national tournament but the Blazers knocked them off in consecutive games to advance to the final game at 4 p.m. against either Central Oklahoma or UC San Diego.
The biggest hit may have come from April Hutchens in the bottom of the sixth inning. With just a one-run lead, two outs and Kutztown having snagged the momentum, the Blazers loaded the bases with a hit by pitch for Ashley Steinhilber, a single from Sarah Vaughn and a walk for Clare Wamsley. Hutchens, who had only two hits in the tournament so far, came up next and launched a triple into the right field corner to score three runs and bust the game open.
After that, Hutchens scored on a double from Courtney Albritton and she came in on a single by Morgan Johnson. Just like that, the Blazers went from leading just, 3-2, to being up 8-2 and needing just three outs to advance to the championship game.
Kutztown pitcher Samantha Derr was the NCAA Division II Pitcher of the Year and the Blazers tore her apart in two appearances. In seven innings pitched, Derr gave up 13 hits, 11 runs (nine earned) and two walks to VSU. She only struck out four and finished the two games with a 9.00 earned run average against Valdosta State.
Five Blazers hit above .333 or higher against Derr with Wamsley and Albritton leading the way with matching .600 batting averages and .667 on-base percentages. Meanwhile, Alanna Hadley went the full seven innings again Saturday and struck out four, all were swinging. She only allowed two runs. Hadley walked three and gave up seven hits.
Valdosta State never trailed in the game. The first run of the game came in the third inning just like VSU’s first meeting against Kutztown. Wamsley singled down the left side and scored when Albritton knocked a double to left field. Albritton scored next on a Johnson sacrifice fly.
The Blazers added one more run in the fourth inning when Natalia Morozova doubled and scored on a single by Vaughn. Down, 3-0, Kutztown made a comeback bid in the sixth with two runners scoring. Heather Hannum led off with a double and Katie Lynch followed with a single. Derr grounded out but Hannum was able to score, then Brianna Knipe knocked in Lynch with a single.
Then it was to the bottom of the sixth for Valdosta State and the Blazers blew the game open with five runs, three of them coming off the bat of the senior second baseman Hutchens.
Valdosta State will face the winner between Central Oklahoma and UC San Diego for the NCAA Division II Softball Championship game at approximately 4 p.m. There will be a live webcast at www.ncaa.com and a broadcast at Talk 92.1 FM. Continue to check www.vstateblazers.com throughout the afternoon for any updates on times as well as @BlazerAthletics on Twitter or the Valdosta State Athletics Facebook page.