The unwelcome theme of the Blazers’ baseball season has come to the forefront once again.
VSU’s game Tuesday night against Columbus State was canceled due to thunderstorms in the area, making it the fourth rained-out game so far this season.
The phrase, “When it rains, it pours,” fits Tuesday night’s storm very well, but it can also be applied to VSU’s series with No. 2 West Florida last weekend. It didn’t rain, but there were 45 total runs of offense poured out by the two teams.
The Blazers took one game out of the three in their Gulf Southeastern conference opening series. The Argonauts routed the Blazers 15-1 in game one. VSU’s lone run was scored on a pinch hit homerun by Adam Whitlock, the junior’s first homerun of the year.
Starting pitcher Kyle Teague took the loss after allowing four earned runs on seven hits and two walks through five innings.
The Blazers evened up the series by taking game two, 3-2, in walk-out fashion. Bud Fuller was credited with the win in relief, his first of the year. The junior worked through two innings, allowing only one run, a solo homer surrendered in the 8th to West Florida’s third basemen Josh Huggins.
Huggins’ home run tied the game at two, but in the bottom of the ninth the Blazers refused to let the game go past regulation. A fielding error by Argonaut’s shortstop Brandon Brewer allowed John Willner to reach the base-paths. The speedy Antonio Clark bunted to advance Willner and ended up advancing himself as well. Marc Overstreet then came to the plate, with one out, Clark on first and Willner on second. The junior, facing a 2-2 count, roped a single to right field scoring Willner for the winning run.
In the rubber match, there would be more drama and 24 runs. West Florida would take the game and the series though, outscoring VSU 14-10. The Blazers’ offense was highlighted by Aaron Kicklighter’s two-run trot-shot in the VSU half of the second. The short stop went 1-4 in the game and tallied four RBI’s.
VSU right fielder, Tyler Reimer, had a perfect day at the plate, going 4-4, scoring two runs and batting in two as well. In the top of the 8th inning, West Florida would prove too much as they scored three unanswered runs.
VSU’s Bud Fuller took over the mound in relief with two outs and couldn’t close the door without letting three runs in on three hits. In the top of ninth and with a 12-10 lead, UWF added two insurance runs. Righty, Cason Mobley, relieved Fuller and gave up two runs on two hits and three walks. The Blazers’ pitching didn’t help their own cause, surrendering a combined 11 walks in the game.
“I thought we could have played a little better defense,” said Bobby Triglia. “We’ve been getting after it all week in practice; it’s been a real good week.”
This weekend the Blazers will travel to Carrollton, Ga. to take on West Georgia in a three-game bout. Games one and two are a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m. and game three starts Sunday also at 1 p.m.
The highly ranked VSU softball team entered last weekend with an unscathed record, but that changed in the final game of a double-header against West Florida.
Even with the loss, VSU moved to 7-1 on the season heading into the core of their schedule. VSU has 14 more games in March following their series with UNC-Pennbroke.
Despite not yet playing a lot of games, Coach Thomas Macera has already identified where his teams’ strengths are and where he sees potential improvement.
“I think our strength is in our pitching,” said Macera. “Our hitting, I think, is a little bit behind, but I think that’s just from not playing enough games yet.”
The Blazers started the weekend off with a 4-0 shutout victory over West Florida. Current Gulf South Conference pitcher of the week Holly Satterfield, threw a complete game in which she struck out eight UWF players.
In the first game, catcher Ashley Steinhilber led the way for the Blazers offensively as she got on base all four at-bats and scored twice. However, Steinhilber did not reach base in game two of the double-header and the Blazers were not able to muster a run.
Steinhilber is currently leading the team with a .478 batting average and a .586 on-base percentage. Her success at the top of the lineup will be a catalyst for the offense throughout the course of the season.
“Any time the top of your lineup gets on, that’s what you’re hoping for because that’s your better hitters,” said Macera. “When they do get on base, obviously you’re going to score more runs.”
Macera and his team plan to keep the same strategy. “We need to stay hungry and keep working hard,” Macera said. “We can’t panic over one loss. If you panic, you’re dead. There’s no panic in our game plan, just got to keep working.”