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Blazers stay hot extending win streak to 31

The Valdosta State Blazers softball team showed on Saturday exactly why they are known as the best in the nation, in front of a vocal record-breaking crowd, and under the sun that turned Blazer red around the time the team really turned up the heat.

 The No. 1 ranked Blazers, who also are atop of the Gulf South conference, entered Saturday riding the wave of a 29-game winning streak, but faced a formidable rival No. 22 ranked Alabama-Huntsville, who entered the day No. 2 in the GSC.

 Despite this challenge from UAH, who took early leads in both games, the Blazers emerged triumphantly and swept the day, winning game one 6-1 and game two 4-3. The team’s winning streak now stands at 31 games.

 The first game was highlighted by a dominant complete game performance by Alanna Hadley, who struck out five en route to the winning her 19th of the season.

 A few home runs by Courtney Albritton, her 12th, Sam Posey, her 6th, and Natalia Morozova, her 2nd also were huge contributions in both victories.

 The strikeouts in the first game put Hadley past the 100 strikeout mark for the season, but rather than think of milestones such as that, she stated that she just thinks about the task at hand, and chose to deflect credit for the success to her teammates.

 “I just try to go out there and just play every day as a new day,” Hadley said. “I know I have a great defense behind me, and our team is on fire right now, so I just take it one matter at a time, and just try to focus, and know that my team has my back.”

 In game two, Alabama-Huntsville took an early lead, until the Blazers offense caught fire in the bottom half of the fifth inning, scoring four runs.

 This scoring run was highlighted by a deep ball hit by Albritton, one that nearly went over the fence in right-center field, and into a sea of fans under a tent just past the fence, where Morozova hit her home run in game one. The shot brought two runs in.

 Head coach Thomas Macera, using the holiday weekend as a motivator, gave his team a very good reason to get the bats and base running going.

 “I told them if they didn’t get their act together, we’d be practicing on Easter,” Macera said. “I told them that if we’re going to play this badly, then we needed to work tomorrow, and I told them that win or lose, I just wanted them to play better.”

 The event, known as “Pack the Park” at the Softball Complex at North Campus, saw a record crowd of 652 fill the park, but Macera begs to differ. He felt that the number was inaccurate.

 “It’s a skewed number, because that’s only what was inside the stadium,” Macera said. “If you look outside our stadium, there’s another 100 or 125 people outside the stadium, [so] you had over 700 people here for a Division II softball game,  you don’t see that anywhere, and these fans are in for the game – they’re not just hanging out with their buddies, they’re screaming, yelling, cheering these girls on, stomping in the stadium, you’ve got the crazies in the outfield, these girls know they’re here to watch them play, and they know they’re here to see good ball, so the support in Valdosta is just second to none.”

 One fan, Bobby Blanton, a recent VSU graduate, was optimistic about the chances of the softball team in the future.

 “They’ve got such a good team right now,” Blanton said. “It’s hard to say, but if they keep doing what they’re doing, it’s going to be something real good.”

 Hadley was also quite happy about the large crowd, and hopes to see these large crowds for the remainder of the season.

 “I think we have a great fanbase, and we love it that they come out and show support, and I hope they continue to come out, because as you can see, we try to play for them, and give them a show, so we’re very thankful,” Hadley said.

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