Valdosta, GA -- No. 1 Valdosta State swept Saint Leo Wednesday, 6-2, 10-3, led by the dangerous hitting of senior shortstop Marti Littlefield and strong pitching of the National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association’s National Pitcher of the Week, Alanna Hadley.
The wins push the Blazers to 27-2 on the season. Hadley, the Gulf South Conference’s Pitcher of the Week as well, picked up two wins Wednesday, pitching 9.1 innings. She gave up four hits and just one earned run while walking three and striking out five.
Littlefield, meanwhile, led all hitters with a five for six performance, two home runs and five runs batted in. She also scored two runs. Behind Littlefield were three other players hitting above .500 for the day: Morgan Johnson, Clare Wamsley and Courtney Albritton. Those three combined for 11 hits, six run and six RBI. Johnson added a home run of her.
April Hutchens and Natalia Morozova also had multiple hits on the day while Hutchens scored twice and Morozova made it home once. Also scoring was Samantha Posey and Angela O’Connor, O’Connor doing it three times.
Giving Hadley support in the pitcher’s circle was Courtney Gunby and Brianna Hancock. Gunby struck out one, walked one, gave up one earned run and two hits in three innings. Hancock, meanwhile, struck out one and gave up four hits in 1.2 innings of work.
In game one, Johnson started with a single, then stole second. Littlefield plated Johnson with a double to centerfield. Saint Leo answered with a run of its own, but the Blazers fought back with an Albritton run in the third inning. She singled and moved to second on a Johnson sacrifice. Littlefield came through again with a single to right center to plate Albritton and VSU’s second run of the day.
Next inning, the Blazers put one more run up. Wamsley singled to right field and went to second on an Albritton single. Johnson doubled next to score Wamsley and give VSU a two-run cushion. In the top of the sixth, however, Saint Leo pulled within one, 3-2. That’s when Johnson broke the game open.
Hutchens ran out an infield single she hit to third and moved to second on an Albritton sacrifice. Johnson followed with a two-run homer to left field to give the Blazers a three-run lead, 5-2. Valdosta State would score one more before the inning was over, and then held Saint Leo scoreless in the seventh for the first victory of the day.
Albritton was the first to score in game two, leading off with an infield single to third. After making her way to third on Saint Leo errors off the bats of Johnson and Littlefield, Albritton scored on a Morozova ground out.
In the second inning, O’Connor doubled to center field and pushed her way to third on a Wamsley sacrifice, one of two in the game. When Hutchen put the ball in play next, the SLU second baseman booted it and O’Connor scored.
With a 2-0 lead headed into the fourth, Valdosta State felt in control, but two errors and three Lion hits put Saint Leo on top, 3-2. The Blazers were able to answer in the bottom of the inning when O’Connor, Wamsley and Hutchens basically repeated their work from the second inning.
O’Connor went to first after being hit by a pitch, then Wamsley sacrificed her over to second. Hutchens stepped up to single to left field and plate O’Connor.
After another scoreless performance from Saint Leo, Valdosta State opened the game up with five runs in the fifth, four of which were unearned. Posey was the first to reach on an error by the SLU third baseman. Then Littlefield hit one of her two home runs in the game right down the left line, so far left it actually hit the foul pole.
With two runs in the inning, the Blazers rode the momentum. O’Connor was hit by another pitch, and then Wamsley ran out an infield single to the shortstop. Hutchens singled to left to score O’Connor followed by another left field single from Albritton to plate Wamsley and Hutchens.
Valdosta State, holding an already commanding lead, 8-3, added two more runs in the sixth inning. Littlefield hit her second home run, this time a solo. She chose to hit this one over the centerfield wall. After that, Morozova reached on a walk. Thanks to a Steinhilber sacrifice bunt and a passed ball, Morozova was already at third. Wamsley notched the RBI when Morozova scored on her single to left field.
The Blazers take to the road to face Christian Brothers and Delta State this weekend and will return home to square off against Albany State next week.