Courtesy of VSU Athletics:
VALDOSTA, Ga. - Valdosta State beat Nova Southeastern, 5-4, for the opportunity to face Alabama-Huntsville for the NCAA South Region Championship. Six Lady Blazers made the All-Tournament Team with Marti Littlefield being recognized as the Most Outstanding Player. Her game-winning two-run homer helped her win the award.
Nova Southeastern out hit VSU, 10-8, but the Lady Blazers were more efficient. Stephanie Carlson hit a two-run shot in the second inning, and Littlefield's came in the seventh. Carlson's hitting coupled with great defense helped her get named to the All-Tournament Team. April Hutchens also made the team, and was great at the plate for Valdosta State with a two for three day while Brianna Collis went one for two and pitched 3.1 innings. Collis struck out four and allowed one earned run on the day, her only one of the tournament. She was also named to the All-Tournament Team.
Carlson picked up where she left off at the Gulf South Conference Tournament to start the scoring Sunday. After Alyssa Shirey reached first base on a walk, Carlson bombed her first home run of the tournament.
Nova Southeastern responded with a run of its own in the bottom of the second inning. Erica Barrabi reached on an error and made her way around the bases. It was the only run VSU allowed in an inning the Sharks spent most of the time with bases loaded.
In the fourth inning, Collis worked the count for a walk. After that, Becca Aszman singled to left field. Hutchens followed Aszman with a single of her own to left center. The NSU centerfielder tried to make the throw to third, but put it in the dugout. Amber Shaw, running for Collis, scored on the play to make it 3-1 for the Lady Blazers.
Again the Sharks responded to Valdosta State's score with one of their own. Nova's Dana Bergner earned a walk. Katie Pepper entered the game to pinch run for Bergner and scored on a hit by Noemi Luciani. Lauren Lopez tied the game with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning.
The Sharks scored in their third consecutive inning when Luciani came home while Lopez reached on an error. The run put NSU ahead one headed to the top of the seventh inning, 4-3.
In the last inning though, Littlefield's big bat returned. She regained the lead with her two-run homer for VSU, 5-4. Her 102nd and 103rd runs batted in and her 25th homer of the season proved to be the final blow to Nova Southeastern.
Friday, Valdosta State will meet Alabama-Huntsville for just the third time this season. The teams will play a best of three series with one game scheduled Friday and two Saturday.