Written by Niamani Carlyle-Hollis, Staff Writer
Union University was no match for VSU this weekend as they battled it out on Saturday and Sunday. The Lady Blazers extended their winning streak to 24-straight.
During the first game on Saturday, Jennifer Phillips, Kiley Rusen and Caitlyn Calhoun were forces to be reckoned with.
Calhoun recorded a new career high with 14 strikeouts in game one and dealt her fourth career no-hitter en route to another shutout, which made it her 12th of the season. The total game effort dropped the junior’s season ERA to a sparkling 0.88 and marked the second no-hitter of the week for the VSU pitching staff.
Though the Blazers were held hitless up until the third inning, Halie Imler was able to connect with a hit through the left side. Later in the inning, Rusen came through with a two-out RBI single down the middle into center field. With Brandy Morgan on base after Union’s mishap on second base, Phillips came through big to give VSU a 2-0 lead with a line drive RBI down third base.
Late in the fifth inning, Rusen was able to secure another RBI with a line drive that traveled into the outfield bringing Jaime Phillips home.
Huntyre Elling went 4.2 innings with five strikeouts to lift her record to a perfect 10-0 during the second game, and allowed only four hits and one run in the contest.
During game two, Jennifer Phillips led the way for scoring with a long hit in the third inning and two runners on base putting the Lady Blazers up 3-0.
Union tried to make a little noise of their own by cutting the deficit to 3-1 when Summer Cross hit an RBI down center in the 5th inning.
VSU did not back down and in the bottom of the half, Jennifer Phillips and Morgan both hit big homeruns. With Phillips’ hit, she was able to record her 6th homer of the season.
Maci Fletcher then came on in the fifth to finish pitching for the Lady Blazers.
To close the game out in the 6th inning, Morgan hit an RBI single, followed by a hard hit from Jennifer Phillips to center field to give her two more RBI’s on the night, making it a total of seven for her. Chelsea Canara brought Jennifer Phillips home after hitting a big double into right center field to close the game out 9-1.
Calhoun’s no-hitter represented her third of the 2015 season, which placed the Hamilton, Ohio, native in a GSC tie for the most no-hitters in one season—a feat that has only been accomplished by both Lane Davis of Alabama-Huntsville in 2000 and Sandy Morgan of West Florida in 1999. Calhoun also moved into a tie for third place in the league record books with four career no-hitters.
On Sunday, pitchers Kelley Robey of Union and our own Calhoun both pitched 5 scoreless innings that led to a showdown during the 6th inning.
Union’s Robey seemed to be headed for a shutout after striking out 14 batters straight; that is until Rusen stepped up to bat and connected with the first hit of the game for VSU sending a homer over center field wall to give VSU the lead 1-0.
That was all the Lady Blazers needed to break the drought. Late in the 6th inning with Brittany Smith on second, Canara hit a line drive right in front of UU’s right fielder Annette Castaldo that sent Smith home to put the Lady Blazers up 2-0.
Calhoun continued to pitch fire and was able to improve her record to 20-1 with a total of 13 shutouts. After reaching double-digit strikeout numbers for the 2nd day straight, Calhoun was able to drop her ERA to 0.83 placing her in the top 10 pitchers bracket in the nation when measured by ERA.
The win improved the Blazers to 34-2 overall and 19-1 in GSC play. Meanwhile, Union fell to 20-14 following the sweep and saw their conference record drop to 8-12. The Lady Blazers extended their current winning streak to 24 games, the program’s longest streak since the 2012 team won 36 straight on their way to a national title.
The Lady Blazers will face Young Harris next in a non-conference double header on March 31 at 3 p.m.