VALDOSTA, Ga. -- The Georgia Southwestern State University softball team twice fell one run short of defeating No. 18 Valdosta State for the first time in its NCAA Division II history Tuesday, suffering 4-3 (8 Innings) and 6-5 losses at Steel's Diamond.
Freshman outfielder Elizabeth Wills crushed two solo home runs in the first game of the doubleheader and Hayley Tierce hit a 3-run homer while driving in four runs in the second game to lead the Lady Canes (0-4).
Game 1: Valdosta State 4, Georgia Southwestern 3 (8 Innings)
After two scoreless innings to start the game GSW got the bats going in the third. Wills led off the inning with her first career home run, a solo shot to center off Valdosta State starter Kathryn Carter. Following a Payton Singletary single and Mikela Barlow walk, Chloe Zeller reached on a fielder's choice that forced out Singletary at third as Barlow advanced to second. Barlow moved to third on a Hayley Tierce fly out and eventually scored when Lauren Kuerzi reached on an error to give the Lady Canes a 2-0 lead.
Wills wasn't done with the long ball against the Blazers. She went deep again her next time at the plate, this time to left center, extending the GSW lead to 3-0 after the top half of the fourth.
Shannon Gibson got the start in the circle for GSW and threw five scoreless innings before the Blazers finally broke through in the sixth. Danielle Peterson led off with a single and Jessica Mohl reached on an error before Taylor Hartenbach hit a 3-run homer to left, knotting the score at 3-3. Madason Messer came on in relief of Gibson and got the final two outs of the inning.
The Lady Canes got runners on in both the seventh and eighth, but couldn't get anything across the plate as they stranded three on base. Hartenbach ended the game in the eighth with her second homer, a walk off shot to right center off Messer.
Game 2: Valdosta State 6, Georgia Southwestern 5
Brittany Childs started game two and the Blazers jumped on her with a run in the first, scoring off a sac fly to right that followed a leadoff double.
GSW found an answer in the third, scoring two runs to take the lead. Graysen Sanders, Mikela Barlow and Chloe Zoeller all reached to load the bases with nobody out for Hayley Tierce and she came through with a single to left that scored Sanders and forced VSU starter Avery Lamb out of the game. Freshman Cassidy Burton followed with an RBI sac fly to center scoring Barlow from third.
Taylor Hartenbach hit her third home run of the night in the bottom half of the third, another 3-run shot to right that gave the Blazers a 4-2 lead.
The Lady Canes fought back yet again in the fourth inning, scoring three runs to take a 5-4 lead. After Payton Singletary reached on an error and Barlow singled, Hayley Tierce hit her first homer of the season, a 3-run bomb to deep left center scoring Singletary and Barlow to put GSW on top. Burton walked to keep the inning alive, but Elizabeth Wills grounded out to short for the final out.
The Blazers would tie the game 5-5 in the bottom of the fifth on a bases loaded walk issued by Ansley Dean, who had came on in relief of Childs in the third inning. Dean got out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts to escape the fifth without further damage.
GSW went three up and three down in both the sixth and seventh before Valdosta walked off winners again in the seventh. A leadoff walk and passed ball moved the runner to scoring position and after a groundout Danielle Patterson hit an RBI single to left bringing home the winning run.
Lauren Kuerzi added two more hits to her season total Tuesday. The freshman has now hit safely in all four games this season and is hitting a team-high .308.
Senior Mikela Barlow drew three more walks in the two games Tuesday and has walked five times in four games. Barlow currently boasts a .563 on base percentage.
After hitting two home runs Tuesday freshman Elizabeth Wills is slugging .727 in 11 at bats on the season.
Up Next: The Lady Canes head to the Charger Chillout for four games in two days in Huntsville, Ala. GSW first takes the field Saturday for a 3:00 p.m. first pitch against Tuskegee University.