YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. (vstateblazers.com) — Behind 11 runs and 17 hits, the No. 10 Valdosta State softball team rounded out the 2022 regular season with a pair of wins at Young Harris College on Saturday. The Blazers took game one of the doubleheader 4-1 and game two 7-3.
VSU improved to 33-9 on the year, while the Mountain Lions fell to 22-20 on the year.
In game one, the Blazer offense got off to a hot start as the team posted three runs in the top of the first inning. After senior Nikki Pennington hit a double down the left field line, graduate Ally Clegg hit a RBI single to give the Blazers a quick 1-0 lead.
Following the play, sophomore Katie Proctor reached first on a dropped third strike, allowing Clegg to sneak across home plate. In a bases-loaded jam, senior Hunter Meadows then picked up a walk to give the Blazers a 3-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth inning, VSU added another run onto the board as Clegg hit a sacrifice fly out deep into centerfield to score sophomore Kayla Tosone, who had reached first on a fielder's choice and then moved to third on a single by Pennington.
The Mountain Lions scored their only run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning from an RBI single into left field, but the Blazer defense held solid through in the seventh to take the first game 4-1.
Junior Samantha Richards (24-6) went the distance for the Blazers, recorded nine strikeouts and held Young Harris to three hits, one earned run and two walks. The Mountain Lions' Kylie Ferguson also pitched a complete game, fanning five Blazer batters, allowed six hits, two earned runs and two walks.
In game two, the Blazers again took the lead in the top of the first inning posting two quick runs to begin the game 2-0. Young Harris battled back and took the lead from the Blazers in the fourth inning as the team hit an RBI single up the middle and followed the play with a two run home run for a 3-2 lead.
In the top of the fifth inning, Pennington hit her 12th home run of the season to tie the game at 3-3 and sophomore Aniston Gano recorded her 10th home run of the year to give VSU a 4-3 advantage.
The Blazer offense wasn't done as in the top of the sixth inning, the team posted three runs as junior Taylor Lewis hit an RBI double to left center for a 5-3 advantage. Clegg followed the play by recording hit her ninth double of the year to score Tosone and Lewis for the final margin of 7-3.
Freshman Madison Lumpp and Richards combined efforts in the circle for game two, recording seven strikeouts, seven hits, no walks and three runs. The Mountain Lion pitching staff combined for four strikeouts and gave up 11 hits, seven runs and three walks.
The Blazers will look to prepare for the Gulf South Conference Championship on May 5-8 in Oxford, Ala. The NCAA DII South Regional will begin on May 12 at campus sites, with VSU holding steady at No. 3 in the South Region rankings.