Written by Gabe Burns, Sports Editor
Over the weekend, VSU annihilated a potential playoff foe.
If the season ended today, the Blazers and Alabama-Huntsville would clash in the Gulf South Conference tournament. VSU just swept UAB, but there’s still six games remaining.
The tournament looms large as each game gains the utmost importance, but there are three aspects of the Blazers recent hot streak that have them primed to add to the trophy case.
The team is peaking at the right time: The Blazers may be fourth in the GSC standings, but they are a group that no one wants to see right now.
VSU has won six games in a row and has one loss in its last 17 decisions. The lone defeat came to Mississippi College, which had its 13-game winning streak interrupted as the Blazers took two of three on the road.
The Blazers travel to Carrollton this weekend to challenge arch rival West Georgia. The Wolves are sitting at 28-20 on the year with a 13-14 mark in the GSC. No games should be taken for granted, but VSU stands a favorable chance at quickly bettering its place in the GSC standings.
Afterwards, VSU will play the conference’s second seed, Delta State. The Blazers could still steal a top three spot prior to the tournament, but it will take winning out, something VSU is very capable of doing.
With Caitlyn Calhoun on the mound, VSU can defeat anyone in the country: Well, this isn’t something we’ve learned recently, but it has been further validated during the Blazers’ hot streak.
Calhoun sports a 1.46 ERA, 22 wins, 27 complete games, 194 strikeouts in 182 innings pitched. All of those stats lead the GSC. For perspective, those 194 strikeouts are 48 more than the second best pitcher.
But Calhoun’s success transcends the 2016 campaign. She has pitched in 101 games in her VSU career. Her most recent win moved her into fifth place in school history with 62 victories. She is also only the second Blazers to pass 500 strikeouts.
VSU sports an efficient offense: The Blazers are known for winning on the long ball –and rightfully so- but the team isn’t boom or bust in that department.
VSU has hammered 65 dingers, which is 10 more than North Alabama, the GSC’s No. 1 team. The Blazers’ 262 RBIs rank third in the conference. UAH leads in that category, but it was stifled by Calhoun and the Blazers’ arms.
There is a stigma with homer-heavy teams that they carry large strikeout numbers. With this team, that is not the case.
VSU’s 130 strikeouts is second best in the GSC and only one more than UAH. The Blazers are also second in walks and on-base percentage.
The ability to get runners on and put the ball in play, paired with the power bats, bodes well for VSU’s chances moving forward.
The bottom-line: This team has fared well in the GSC gauntlet. VSU is a team no one wants to see come tournament time.