VALDOSTA, Ga. (vstateblazers.com) — Down 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh with one out in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon, the No. 7 Valdosta State softball team hit three home runs for a 6-4 victory and a doubleheader sweep of No. 17 West Florida.
Blazer sophomore Taylor Lewis used a pinch-hit, two run, walk-off, home run to seal the sweep as VSU scored five runs in its last at bat. The Blazers won the opener, 6-3 behind four home runs and a strong performance from sophomore Samantha Richards in the circle.
The Blazers improved to 18-3 on the year and 12-2 in Gulf South Conference play, while UWF fell to 18-9 and 12-5 in league play. VSU belted eight home runs for the doubleheader and allowed just one round-tripper.
VSU hit .300 for the day on 15 of 50, while scoring 12 runs with one double, a staggering eight home runs and 12 RBI. Three different players each had three hits for the day as freshman Moran Hill and senior sister Logan Hill, along with junior Nicole Pennington each had two home runs for the doubleheader.
Richards went all seven innings in the opener, while M. Hill started the nightcap and was relieved by both senior Avery Lamb and freshman Mia DeAngelis. VSU fanned the Argos 12 times as Richards had six K's in the opener.
The series concludes with a single game Sunday at 1 p.m. Fans can access links to live stats, audio/video streaming and more at vstateblazers.com. The game also will be broadcast on 92.1 WDDQ FM with Bill Malone having the call.
#7 Valdosta State 6, #17 West Florida 3 (Game One)
Richards struck out the side to begin the game in the top of the first giving her 98 strikeouts for the season in 75.2 innings of work to that point. She finished the day with 101 strikeouts for the season. In the bottom of the frame, M. Hill took Grace Gilbert's first pitch deep off the scoreboard for her seventh round-tripper of the season and a 1-0 lead. Sophomore Kiley Robb singled to left plating, Pennington, who reached base via a walk and a 2-0 lead. Pennington now has reached base safely in all 20 games this season.
On a 3-1 count with one out in the top of the second, Jacquelynne Poling went deep to right field, getting the Argos on the board, 2-1. It was Poling's fifth home run in the last nine games. Richards picked up her fourth strikeout of the game and junior Baylee Everson made a great diving catch in left field saving what potentially could have been a big inning for the visitors.
Gilbert began the top of the third with a bloop single over first base to begin the top of the third. A sacrifice bunt moved her to second and leadoff hitter Teala Howard beat the throw on a bunt, but an errant throw to get Gilbert out at third allowed Gilbert to score for a 2-2 game. Richards got out of the jam without further damage.
Pennington took a 1-1 count in the bottom of the third to left field for her ninth home run of the season and a 3-2 Blazer lead. With one pitch in between, L. Hill belted her fourth home run of the season to dead center field for a 4-2 lead and the third home run of the game for VSU. The Blazers entered the series leading the nation in home runs with 33. A double off the fence from freshman Aniston Gano chased Gilbert from the game in favor of Montana Young. Young got a fly out to left for the second out and got senior Lacey Crandall to hit a hard ball right at the center fielder for the third out.
An infield single, followed by a single from Argo leadoff hitter Howard and three base throwing error pulled UWF within 4-3 in the top of the fifth. Richards prevented further damage with a pair of fly outs.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, a 3-1 count, and a runner on base, Robb hit a two run shot to left center for her ninth home run of the year and a 6-3 VSU lead. It was the fourth home run hit in the game for VSU.
VSU took the 6-3 lead into the top of the seventh and the last at bat for the Argos. Richards retired the first two batters with a pair of fly outs to left and right field, respectively. Richards came back with her sixth strikeout of the game to end it as VSU took the opener, 6-3.
The Blazers had six runs on nine hits with three errors, while UWF had three runs on five hits. The teams combined for five home runs, but four big round trippers by the Blazers accounted for five of the six runs in the game. Robb went 3 for 3 with a run scored, home run and three RBI. Howard was 2 for 3 for the Argos.
Richards improved to 12-2 on the year, allowing five hits, three runs – one earned, walked none and fanned six. Gilbert (4-4) took the loss, allowing six hits, four runs – three earned and walked one in 2.1 innings of work. UWF entered the series winners of six of the last seven against the Blazers.
#7 Valdosta State 6, #17 West Florida 4 (Game Two)
In the nightcap, M. Hill hit a solo home run, her second of the day, on the second pitch of the game for a 1-0 lead, after beginning the day with a solo home run in the opener on the first pitch. A walk and a wild pitch put runners at the corners for the Blazers with two out. Pennington got too far off third as the Blazers tried to get into a run down for an extra run as she was picked off to end the threat.
The Argos began the top of the fourth with a pair of singles. A fielder's choice out for the Blazers followed. Brett Leiva doubled down the right field line, tying the game at 1-1. VSU made a change in the circle as Lamb replaced M. Hill. Courtney McClellan hit a sacrifice fly to center for a 2-1 UWF lead. Lamb got a fly out to left for the final out.
With two out in the bottom of the fourth, VSU put two on base with a pair of walks, but Sweatt came back with a big strikeout getting out of the jam.
Sweatt retired the first batter in the bottom of the fifth, but walked the next two as the Blazers were looking for their first hit since the first inning. L. Hill advanced the runners with a fly out to left for two in scoring position. Sweatt got a foul out to the catcher as VSU left two in scoring position.
Everson put a ball into left field with one out in the bottom of the sixth for the first hit for VSU since the first inning home run by M. Hill. A ground out to second moved Everson into scoring position at second with two out. Sweatt got a pop out to short to get out of the inning as VSU left seven stranded to that point and runners in scoring position each of the past three innings.
UWF used a single from pinch-hitter Madlynne Webb and then Kayanna Perez laced an RBI double to the gap for a 3-1 lead in the top of the seventh, chasing Lamb from the game in favor of DeAngelis. An error on a sacrifice bunt scored the fourth run and second of the inning for the Argos.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, M. Hill singled up the middle. On a 3-2 count, Pennington took Sweatt yard for a 4-3 deficit. On a 2-2 count, L. Hill tied the game with a home run to left center and a 4-4 score. It marked the second time today VSU hit back-to-back home runs. Montana Young replaced Sweatt on the mound following a walk to Robb, putting the winning run on base. Perez robbed freshman Aniston Gano of a hit with a great, snow cone, diving catch in left field for the second out. On a 2-1 count, sophomore pinch-hitter Taylor Lewis belted a two run shot for a 6-4, walk-off victory to sweep the doubleheader and win the series.
DeAngelis (1-0) earned the win pitching the seventh, while Sweatt (7-3) took the loss in 6.1 innings, allowing five hits, five earned runs, walked seven and fanned five. M. Hill went 2 for 3 with two runs scored, a home run and an RBI in the nightcap as the only Blazer with more than one hit in the game. Pennington and Lewis each had two RBI on their home runs. Three different players for the Argos had two hits each.