Written by Gabe Burns, Sports Editor
The No. 20 Valdosta State Blazers softball team is more than halfway through the regular season and it is ready to take it up a notch.
Through 24 games this season, the Blazers have tallied up a 17-6-1 record.
On the softball side, West Florida is distant from its 2015 form. After going 19-30 a season ago, the sweep not only earned the Argonauts a 17-4 mark in 2016, but it also may have made them the conference favorites.
The losses dropped VSU to 14-6-1 with a 4-5 record in the Gulf South Conference (the team had previously loss two of three at North Alabama).
Before visiting Pensacola, the Blazers won eight in a row with seven of those victories coming by at least three runs. It is still too early in the season for VSU to be overly concerned, but the team must improve its play against conference competition in the near future.
That opportunity comes quickly. The Blazers will travel to West Alabama searching for a rebound this weekend against the league-rival Tigers.
This series comes at the right time for VSU. The Tigers are 6-11 and 0-9 in the GSC, making them not just last place, but the only team to have not won a conference game.
As of Wednesday, VSU ranks sixth in the conference, but only three games out of third place.
On the baseball end of the spectrum, the Blazers won the middle game of the set while dropping the first and third game versus the Argonauts.
Like their softball counterparts, the baseball team recently had a string of strong showings. VSU had won four in a row and seven of eight.
That surge was halted by UWF. The Argonauts asserted themselves with a convincing 8-0 win in game one. VSU answered with a shutout of its own in a 3-0 outcome in the second match of the doubleheader.
The Blazers led the rubber game 2-1 before surrendering the lead in the bottom of the seventh. The foes ultimately gave fans free baseball at Jim Spooner Field, and the Argonauts prevailed in the game and series with a walk-off hit in the 11th inning.
VSU takes the road to take on the Tigers this weekend. Unlike the softball version, West Alabama is strong opposition. Boasting an 11-4 record, the Tigers are even with the Blazers at 4-2 in league play. The two teams are in a four-way tie for second in the close GSC race. All four teams just a game back of first place Union and UNA.