HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Valdosta State continued to show why it is, without a doubt, one of the best teams in the nation right now with two come-from-behind victories over No. 10 Alabama-Huntsville in Huntsville, Ala., Sunday. In the battle between the two Gulf South Conference powerhouses, the No. 2 Blazers prevailed, 6-2 and 5-3. Valdosta State improves to 25-2 on the season and an eye-popping 12-0 in GSC action. Alabama-Huntsville drops to 24-9 and 6-4 in the GSC.
The Blazers proved to be efficient and opportunistic, manufacturing 11 runs on 13 hits. Valdosta State, second in the nation in slugging percentage, slugged .442 Sunday to help score those runs.
Sarah Vaughn led the team in hitting on the day with a three for six performance in which she notched four runs batted in, a home run and scored two runs. Samantha Posey also sent one out of the park while Ashley Steinhilber and Courtney Albritton also scored two runs each.
Marti Littlefield finished just behind Vaughn in scoring power when she knocked in three RBI on two hits.
Supplementing VSU’s stellar offense was strong pitching. Alanna Hadley struck out four while Courntey Gunby struck out two. That duo teamed with Brianna Hancock to allow 13 hits and five runs, one unearned. They walked four. Hadley pitched 8.1 inning with appearances in both games, picking up a win and a save while Hancock earned a win.
Alabama-Huntsville is one of the few teams in the nation, let alone the conference, that can hit with Valdosta State. The Chargers proved it in the second inning of the day’s opener when Cortney McNett hit a two-run homer to start the scoring.
That would cap the scoring in game one for the Chargers though, as UAH went on to strand 10 runners in the opener.
Valdosta State answered immediately in the top of the third. Vaughn singled to left field and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Clare Wamsley. Then Albritton plated Vaughn on a single to left field to pull VSU within one.
In the fourth inning, Natalia Morozova singled followed by a walk for Steinhilber. With two on, Vaughn sent her long ball over the right field fence to claim a 4-2 advantage.
Later, in the seventh inning, trying to close out strong, Posey blasted her two-run homer down the left line to plate Morgan Johnson as well.
While Hadley gave up five hits in the opening game, when VSU needed her to finish UAH in the bottom of the seventh, she simply baffled Alabama-Huntsville, forcing a pop-up and two ground outs to keep the Chargers at bay for game one.
The bats popped a little more for Alabama-Huntsville in game two as the Chargers saw three VSU pitchers and tallied eight hits, one more than VSU. But the Blazers proved resilient, coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the sixth inning.
Albritton scored first in the game after running out an infield single. Littlefield sent a double to centerfield to plate Albritton and claim an early 1-0 lead. But then the Chargers put up a run in the second, third and fourth innings to go up 3-1. Alabama-Huntsville would not score again and stranded eight in the game.
With their backs against the wall, the Blazers put up a four-run inning in the sixth to go ahead. Albritton started the rally with a double down the left line. Posey singled next after a sacrifice bunt from Johnson. With two runners on, Littlefield sent a single up the middle for the first two runs of the inning.
After a strikeout, Steinhilber stepped up to the plate with a runner on second, two outs and a tied game. Unfazed, she sent a triple down the right line that scored Littlefield. Steinhilber scored on the next at bat when Vaughn singled to center field.
With that, the Blazers jumped ahead of Alabama-Huntsville, 5-3, and Hancock and Hadley had to shut the Chargers down in the bottom of the sixth and seventh. The duo allowed two hits in both innings and benefitted from a 563 double play that saw Posey, Littlefield and Morozova team up to finish the game.
Valdosta State returns home to face a regional opponent, Saint Leo, at 4 p.m. Wednesday.