No. 1 Valdosta State controlled most of game one, but No. 21 Alabama-Huntsville showed why it is still one of the best teams in the NCAA South Region in game two. But, after holding a 2-0 advantage for four innings, UAH gave up four runs, one earned, in the fifth to make it a Valdosta State sweep to extend the Blazers' unbeaten streak to 31. Valdosta State took both games, 6-1, 4-3, to improve to 37-2 on the season and 20-0 in Gulf South Conference action while Alabama-Huntsville drops to 29-12 and 11-7.
April Hutchens led the VSU in hitting Saturday with a four for five performance, notching one run batted in and scoring two runs. Stephanie Needham led the Chargers with a five for seven performance with a home run, two RBI and a run scored.
The Blazers received strong pitching from Alanna Hadley. She picked up a win and a save Saturday while striking out seven. Both Whitney Toler and Whitney Gilbert struck out two each. Toler walked three in six innings of work while giving up four hits and four runs, only one of which was earned. Gilbert walked two while allowing six hits and five runs in four innings. Hannah Hogan and Christina Boczek both made appearances in game one, allowing a combined five hits.
Alabama-Huntsville struck first blood in game one with a solo home run from Needham in the top of the first, her 15th of the season. Valdosta State answered back in the bottom of the first and didn't look back the rest of game one, scoring two runs in the second and fifth innings and one run in the third. VSU hit three home runs along the way for the early 6-1 victory.
Alabama-Huntsville looked to be in control most of game two until VSU's four-run fifth inning. The Chargers outhit the Blazers, 8-4, in the second game.
The Chargers scored first when Kathryn Whitlock knocked Mary Kelley for the early lead in the first inning. 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 the first four innings. Then the fifth came. Natalia 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, Sarah Vaughn singled to score one.
Hutchens was next up to bat and knocked in O'Connor with a single up the middle. Next, Albritton hit a deep ball that UAH centerfielder Mallory McNeal put her glove in front of but dropped it. Two runners scored on the play for four runs in the inning and a two-run VSU 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, in the game for Brianna Hancock, forced Whitlock to pop up to Marti Littlefield and struck Abby MacKay out to clinch the game for VSU.