Courtesy of VSU athletics:
VALDOSTA, Ga. – Valdosta State, the top team in the south region, beat Arkansas-Monticello twice Saturday, 4-3 and 2-1, to secure the NCAA Division II South Regional Championship and Valdosta State's first trip to the NCAA Division II National Softball Tournament. The Lady Blazers move to 48-8 on despite some feisty base running and solid hitting from Arkansas-Monticello, who's season will end at 55-13.
The Lady Blazers came back after dropping one game Friday to sweep their opponent on the final day of the tournament for the second week in a row, proving a willingness to perform in the clutch. They will need that in the field of the final eight teams in the country next week.
Fittingly, Alyssa Shirey, senior captain and Gulf South Conference East Player of the Year recorded the last two outs of the day with a double play from the catcher's position. Emilie Hobbs, the UAM lead off hitter, tried a bunt to move Randa Perry to second, but she popped it up. Shirey jumped up to snag the ball and rifled it to Colette Rollins at first, as she had done a number of times Saturday, to pick off Perry for the win.
Margaret Carter pitched a complete game in the first game of the day, giving up seven hits and striking out three batters. Holly Satterfield struck out two and gave up four hits in five innings before leaving a tied game. Carter finished the last two innings to clinch the South Regional Championship.
In game one, the big offensive performer for VSU was Marti Littlefield. She went two for four with two RBIs and a run scored. April Hutchens was two for three with a run. And it was Melessa Jackson who hit a two-out triple to knock Rollins in to score the game deciding run.
Arkansas-Monticello jumped on the board first with a second inning home run from Becca Tipton to take an early 1-0 lead, but Valdosta State bounced back with two runs in the third.
Hutchens used her speed to leg out a single after hitting the ball to third base. Then Amber Shaw singled to shallow center field to put runners at first and second. Morgan Johnson laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners, and Littlefield did the rest of the work. She hit a smoker to right field and dove at first for the hit. Shaw and Hutchens scored on the play.
In the fifth inning, Littlefield singled to right again and was brought in by Shirey's double to right field. Rollins came in on Jackson's triple in the sixth.
The Cotton Blossoms were not going to go down easily as they put up two runs in the seventh inning. Faith Lund singled and Kendra White doubled. Perry doubled to left center to score Lund and UAM put up the other run on a throwing error. Carter retired the next two hitters to end the game.
Another Valdosta State senior, Stephanie Carlson teamed up with Johnson to lead VSU in game two. Carlson drilled a shot to left center in the second inning and scored on a sacrifice fly from Hutchens. Then, she was hit by the UAM pitcher in the sixth to allow Johnson to score the winning run.
The Lady Blazers were able to win game two despite being out hit seven to one by the Cotton Blossoms.
Valdosta State has been able to keep winning when it counts but has yet to click on all cylinders in the postseason. The Lady Blazers hope to do so at the eight-team national tournament to be played May 27-31. Valdosta State will start at 2:30 p.m. Thursday against Bloomsburg from the Atlantic Region, who won its super regional with 9-0 and 7-0 victories.