VALDOSTA, Ga. (vstateathletics.com) — Behind a combined five home runs, the No. 3 Valdosta State softball team defeated the Shorter Hawks Saturday afternoon, 9-1 (six innings), in the first game of a three-game weekend series.
The Blazers tallied nine hits and improved to 17-4 on the season and a perfect 9-0 in Gulf South Conference action, while Shorter fell to 4-20 on the year and 1-11 in the GSC.
Junior pitcher Samantha Richards (13-1) pitched all six innings for the Blazers and recorded 11 strikeouts while holding the Hawks to one run, three hits and three walks through 21 at-bats.
Shorter utilized three pitchers in the game, as Alana Lloyd (0-6) started and collected the loss. Lloyd recorded no strikeouts and gave up five hits, four earned runs. The pitching staff combined for three strikeouts and gave up nine hits, nine earned runs, and eight walks through 25 at-bats.
VSU wasted no time getting on the board, as in the bottom of the first inning sophomore Aniston Game singled into right field and junior Abby Sulte homered to left field for her sixth home run of the year to put the Blazers up 2-0.
The Blazers added three more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning as senior Nikki Pennington hit her fifth home run of the year and junior Taylor Lewis followed with a two-run home run to score junior Hunter Meadows, who pinch ran for sophomore Katie Proctor giving VSU a 5-0 lead. Proctor had singled up the middle earlier in the frame to reach first.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Hawks brought the score to 5-1 after a Blazer error allowed a base runner to cross home plate.
The Blazers responded in the bottom of the frame with a solo home run by sophomore Morgan Hill and another solo home run from graduate Ally Clegg for the fifth home run of the game. After Sulte, Meadows and Lewis collected walks to load the bases, sophomore Taylor Macera singled into left field for a two-run RBI to complete the run-rule, 9-1 victory.
The Blazers are back in action on Sunday to round out the series with Shorter. The doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., at Steel's Diamond at Blazer Park.
For all updates on Blazer softball, visit vstateblazers.com or follow Valdosta State Athletics on social media.