VALDOSTA, Ga. – A five-run sixth inning for top-seeded Valdosta State propelled the hosts to a 5-3 victory over the No. 2 seed University of Alabama in Huntsville at the NCAA Division II Softball South Super Regional on Friday night. The Chargers slip to 42-16 with the setback, while VSU improves to 45-10.
UAH will need to win two contests on Saturday to earn a trip to the Division II Softball National Championships. In 2011 when the Chargers were last in the Super Regionals, West Alabama knocked off UAH in the opening game before the team was able to win twice against the Tigers the next day to punch its ticket to Salem, Va.
The Chargers led through the majority of the contest, but VSU used a big inning late to take the contest.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth and Ashley Steinhilber aboard after drawing a walk, pinch hitter Angela O’Connor belted a two-run homer over the fence in left to tie the game at 2-2, delighting the crowd of more than 750 that were on hand to see the contest between two of the best programs in the country.
O’Connor was the last batter that Whitney Gilbert would face, and she finished the night by allowing six hits in her 5.1 innings pitched while striking out two.
Kimberly Jack (15-6) entered the game in relief, and the Blazers were able to string together five consecutive hits to plate three more runs with Fran Johnson’s two-run double ending up being the game-winning hit.
The Chargers struck first in the contest, scoring a run in the first inning without the benefit of a hit.
Sullivan led the game off with a walk and moved to second on a Kelley sacrifice bunt after which Cortney McNett and Kathryn Whitlock drew walks to load the bases. With the bags packed, Sullivan trotted home to score the opening run after Hancock was charged with an illegal pitch.
Adding to the lead in the second, Meagan Billingsley reached on an error, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Kellie Johnson, and then stole third. That allowed her to easily score when Sullivan singled into left, providing UAH with a 2-0 lead.
The score would remain that way until the big sixth inning for the Blazers.
Game two of the best-of-three series is slated for noon CDT.
Courtesy: UAH Media Relations