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VSU softball set to play West Georgia, Shorter this weekend

Written by Chris Kessler

 

No. 3 Valdosta State hits the road this weekend to play two double-headers against West Georgia and Shorter. The Blazers will travel to play West Georgia on Saturday, before heading out to Shorter on Sunday.

 

The Blazers sit second in the Gulf South Conference with a record of 30-8 (15-6 GSC), just two games behind Alabama-Huntsville.

 

VSU missed out on a golden opportunity to take over first place, when their double-header against Alabama-Huntsville was rained out on Sunday. The Blazers had swept West Alabama in double-header the day before.

 

“That’s the problem, you can’t play them, you can’t catch them,” VSU head coach Thomas Macera said. “We were really looking forward to playing them because at one point our post-season was left in our hands, win or lose, and loosing those two games to weather is disappointing and you can’t do anything about that.”

 

With four games in just two days, coach Macera will look to ride his two starting pitchers, Brianna Hancock and Hanna Lythberg, through the weekend.

“A lot of team have a good number one pitcher, and then they have just an average number two, and they’re playing for splits. We have two that are capable of getting the job done,” said Macera

 

Both are expected to start two games in two days. However, this isn’t the first time this has occurred for Hancock and Lythberg.

 

Last month, VSU hosted West Georgia in a double-header followed by a double-header against Shorter the following day. Hancock and Lythberg combined for 23.2 innings pitched, and allowed just 3 runs between them.

 

Hancock, a junior with an 11-3 record and a 2.89 ERA, is excited by the challenge of starting two straight days.

 

“I try to manage myself, and not throw as many warm-up pitches. I really try to stay focus, because I think if you’re focused that compensates for your lack of energy.”

 

In Hancock’s start against Shorter last month, she went 6.2 innings with just one run, before being replaced by Kenzi Reed, who got the final out with the bases loaded. If the opportunity arises again, Hancock would love to have the chance to go the distance for her team.

 

“It’s really important for me. I’ve been here for three years, so I know what it takes and I know my defense works really hard. I only have one role, and to be able to do that for them it makes me feel good because I wan’t to be there for my team and be able to pitch well for them,” said Hancock. “I want the ball in my hands, I feel like I do well under pressure, but I understand why coach did it.”

 

VSU can gain ground by taking advantage of a struggling West Georgia team. The Wolves sit dead last in the GSC at 13-27 (6-22 GSC). The Blazers swept West Georgia in a double-header last month, outscoring them by a combined 24 runs. Both games were called in the 5th inning.

VSU’s stand-out sophomore Courtney Albritton lead the way in the sweep, with 6 RBI’s, 5 runs, 2 home-runs, a double, and 4 total hits.

 

The Blazers are looking forward towards the match-up against Shorter, but are not over-looking West Georgia.

 

“Definitely, don’t ever take West Georgia for granted but Shorter is definitely a bigger game, but West Georgia comes first,” said Brianna Hancock.

 

Shorter heads into the weekend with a record of 34-8 (20-6), which is tops in the GSC. However, Shorter is ineligible for the post-season.

 

The Blazers are currently undefeated in April, and have won five straight. During the streak VSU has scored 33 runs while giving up just 9 runs. Senior Morgan Johnson has lead the way, hitting .385 with 10 RBI’s during the team’s winning streak.

 

With the regular season coming to the wire, VSU hopes to gain ground on Alabama-Huntsville, and secure the top seed in the GSC.

 

“You have to beat everybody to win it anyways, but the number one seed makes a difference in how the bracket sets up, and makes it a little easier early in the tournament,” said Macera.

 

VSU moved up last week one spot from No. 4 to No. 3 in the national rankings.

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