day after needing late and extra inning heroics to earn a victory in
the NCAA National Tournament, Valdosta State made sure there was little
doubt in the outcome of its round two game as the Blazers defeated Dixie
State 8-0 in a five-inning run-rule contest in the second day of play
at the NCAA Division II Softball National Championship Tournament
Valdosta State, which improved to 47-14 on the season, dominated the contest from the beginning, both at the plate and on the mound as it snapped Dixie State's 27-game winning streak, that stretched back to March 17, and dropped the Rebels to 50-9 on the season.
VSU ace Brianna Hancock set the tone early as the senior did not give up a hit and allowed just two base runners, on a walk in the first inning and a hit batter in the third, over the course of the first three innings of play. Hancock was so dominate in the contest that only four DSU batters reached base in the contest, with the only hit against the right-hander coming on a single by Courtney Sherwin to open the fourth inning. The victory improved Hancock to 24-6 on the season.
Freshman Heather Robinson gave Hancock all the run support she would need in the bottom of the second inning when the Blazer designated player hit her 11th home run of the season, a shot over the wall in left-center field that put VSU in front 1-0.
Valdosta State added two more runs in the third inning while chasing Dixie State starting pitcher Michelle Duncan, who entered the contest with a 21-1 record on the season, from the game. Shelby Altman opened the Blazer half of the third with an infield single before Kiley Rusen walked and was lifted for pinch-runner Brittany Britt. A sacrifice bunt by Hannah Strickland moved both base runners up a base before Chelsea Canara hit a ground ball to second base, that was misplayed by DSU's Nicole Chavez to allow both Altman and Britt to score while ending Duncan's night.
After Dixie State staged its only real threat of the game with Sherwin's single and a two-out walk by Maria Reiter in the top of the fourth, a jam that Hancock ended by a fly out by Brooke Budge, VSU closed out the scoring in the bottom of the fourth with five runs, in large part due to wildness by DSU reliever Aryn Feickert. April Collins and Courtney Albritton each singled to open the fourth for Valdosta State before Feickert walked Altman, Rusen and Strickland. With two runners in and the bases loaded, Canara hit into a fielder's choice that retired Altman at home, but Fran Johnson added a sacrifice fly that plated Rusen and Morgan Butler singled home Strickland and Canara for the game's final two runs.
Altman reached base in all three of her plate appearances in the game as she finished with two hits and also drew a walk. Butler finished the game 1-for-3 with two runs driven in.
With the victory, Valdosta State advances to Sunday's semifinal round, where it will play at 2:30 p.m. The Blazers' Sunday opponent will be determined by a pair of games on Saturday as Wayne State and Southeastern Oklahoma will play at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, with the winner of that game advancing to face Armstrong Atlantic at 7:30 p.m. Saturday evening. VSU will face the winner of the 7:30 p.m. game on Sunday and will need just one victory to advance to Monday's national championship game.
Courtesy: Valdosta State Sports Information