VALDOSTA, Ga. – A rain delay didn't ruin an amazing ending. Rain and lightning delays forced a one hour and forty minute stall in the middle of Saturday's Gulf South Conference series finale for the Valdosta State softball team against Mississippi College. Those who hung around though, didn't mind a bit after senior Fran Johnson won the game in the bottom of the seventh with a walk off RBI double that gave the Blazers a 1-0 victory at Steel's Diamond at Blazer Park.
The Blazers, who left eight runners on base and squandered multiple opportunities throughout the contest, got the spark they needed in the bottom of the final inning from pinch hitter Heather Robinson, who dropped a bloop single into right center field just out of the reach of MC's speedy center fielder, Shay Mickens. Brittany Smith came on to pinch run for Robinson, but was unable to move up on Halie Imler's hard liner to third. Lady Choctaw hurler Carlie Sargent recorded her third strikeout of the day one batter later to pick up the second out of the frame, which set the stage for Johnson's heroics.
Johnson, a four-year Blazer out of Macon, Ga., uncorked on a two-strike delivery from Sargent that missed clearing the fence by inches. The liner dropped onto the warning track in the right center field gap, and Smith turned on the jets to come all the way around and slide in just under the tag for the game-winning run.
Caitlyn Calhoun improved to 27-3 on the year and added to her shutout total, which currently tops all Division II pitchers at 18. Calhoun scattered four hits over seven frames and tallied five strikeouts in the game while allowing just one walk.
Johnson's aforementioned game-winning double left a huge dent in the protective tubing along the top of the outfield wall and made her the only Blazer on the day to collect more than one hit.
The triumph came prior to a post-game ceremony in which the Valdosta State softball program recognized seniors Courtney Albritton and Johnson, who played in their final regular season game on Saturday. The win marked the 198th of their career and lifted the Blazers to a 46-5 overall record. VSU ended the regular season with a 25-4 conference record following the victory, while Mississippi College concluded their season at 25-20 overall and 14-15 in GSC play.
Next up for Valdosta State, Valdosta State plays in the Gulf south Conference Tournament next on Thursday at Diamond at Blazer Park in Valdosta, Ga. The Blazers will play their first postseason game on Friday at 5:30 p.m. against the winner of the No. 4 and No. 5 seed contest that will take place earlier in the day.