VALDOSTA, Ga. (May 7, 2012) - In a game that extended over two days, the Tars upend top-seeded Valdosta state 3-0 to give themselves a shot at advancing to the super-regional for the first time in school history.
Sunday afternoon, before play was suspended, the Tars put pressure on Blazers starter Alanna Hadley early, started by a bloop single down the right field line in the first by Lawna Hunter. Monica Meadows then followed with a line drive single through the left side that advanced Hunter to second.
After Krista Rodden went down on strikes, Hadley awarded Hope Bitzer the base on balls to load the bases for senior Meredith Foster. Foster put a charge in one deep down the line in left but left fielder Morgan Johnson tracked it down in foul territory to retire Foster and end the threat.
Play would then be suspended in the top half of the third due to lightning and heavy rain.
When play resumed Monday, Tars pitcher Bitzer picked up where she left off, sitting Angela O'Conner down looking. Then, after surrending a single to Clare Wamsley, got April Hutchens swinging and Courtney Albritton to fly out weakly to center to end the inning.
The Tars next scoring chance came in the bottom of the fourth. Bitzer helped her own cause leading off the inning with a double off the base of the wall in right. After a wild pitch allowed Bitzer to move to third, Hadley recorded back to back strikeouts to bring up Hilary Brown with two outs and a runner on third.
Down in the count 0-1, Brown ripped a line drive up the middle that appeared to be heading into center field before Blazer shortstop Marti Littlefield laid out to make the run saving play to end the inning.
As the Tars continued to hit Hadley hard, the opposite was true for the Blazers through five innings. Bitzer cruised through the first 15 outs of the game, allowing just one hit while striking out seven.
Rollins would again put pressure on the Blazer defense in the bottom of the fifth. After Hunter reached on a hit by pitch with two outs, Meadows ripped her third hit of the game, a double down the left field line that scored Hunter all the way from first to take the 1-0 lead.
But Rollins wasn't done yet in the fifth. With Meadows on second, Rodden drove an 0-2 pitch from Hadley over the fence in center to push the lead to 3-0. It was Rodden's sixth home run of the year.
VSU would not go quietly as Samantha Posey led off the Blazer seventh with a single up the middle. After Fran Johnson entered to pinch run for Posey, Johnson advanced to second on a ground out by Marti Littlefield.
Bitzer then got Natalia Morozova to ground out to short for out number two, keeping Johnson at second.
But the Blazers would strand Johnson at second with Ashley Steinhilber flying out to left field to end the game.
Bitzer (22-6) earned the win in dominating fashion, picking up the shutout while giving up just two hits and striking out 10.
Meadows went 3-3 with an RBI and a run scored.
With the double elimination format in the Regional Tournament, Rollins will have to regroup and play Valdosta State again Monday afternoon with game two set for approximately 12:00pm, the winner would then advance to the super-regional May 11-12. Fans can follow along with all the action live on the Tars Sports Network on RollinsSports.com.