PENSACOLA, Fla. (vstateblazers.com) — Senior Nikki Pennington recorded two home runs in game two of the doubleheader, helping the No. 7 Valdosta State softball to split a pair of games with No. 20 West Florida on the road Saturday. The Blazers fell in game one 1-0 in extra-innings and completed the comeback in game two, 8-4.
The Blazers moved to 29-8 on the year, 21-4 in Gulf South Conference play, while the Argos moved to 27-12 on the year and 18-7 in the GSC.
In game one, the Blazers and Argos were locked into a pitching duel as the teams held each other scoreless through seven innings, forcing the game into extra innings.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Argos hit a single into left field and a Blazer miscue allowed the runner to advance to third. UWF followed the play up with an infield single, allowing the Argos to walk off the game, 1-0.
Samantha Richards (21-5) pitched a complete game for the Blazers, recorded nine strikeouts and held UWF's offense to five hits, one unearned run, and three walks. The Argos utilized Kelsey Sweatt for the entire game as she held VSU's offense to three hits, and three walks while fanning five.
In game two, VSU got on the board first in the first inning as Pennington hit her first homer of the evening, for an early 3-0 lead. Previously in the inning, sophomore Morgan Hill singled into left field and sophomore Aniston Gano recorded a walk.
UWF battled back in the bottom of the frame as two Argos crossed home plate from a pair of wild pitches. The Argos then tied the game and took the lead in the bottom of the second inning as Blazer fielding errors allowed a runner to cross home and a hard-hit ground out to second base allowed UWF to take the lead, 4-3.
The Blazers waited until the top of the sixth inning to begin their comeback as Pennington recorded a solo home run, her 10th of the season, to tie the game at four. After Pennington's blast, sophomore Taylor Macera followed the play up with her fourth home run of the year to score freshman Bobbi Poff to give the Blazers a 6-4 lead.
In the top of the seventh inning, the Blazers posted two more runs as sophomore Morgan Hill was walked and graduate Ally Clegg hit a double into left field, scoring Hill to bring the score to 7-4. After the double, Clegg was able to cross home off a wild pitch to bring the final score to 8-4 as the Argos posted no runs in the bottom of the frame.
Head coach Thomas Macera utilized four pitchers during the game as freshman Madison Lumpp recorded her first collegiate appearance for the red and black. Through four innings of work, Lumpp recorded the win and fanned three, while holding UWF to four hits, two runs and no walks. UWF's pitching staff recorded eight strikeouts along with 10 hits and three walks.
The Blazers will look to clinch the series victory on Sunday, taking on the Argos at 2 p.m. Following the series, the Blazers will host Columbus State on April 27for the final regular season home game of the year.