Florida Southern's Season Ends in Valdosta; Moccasins Finish as South Region Runner-Up
VALDOSTA – Sixteen hours after a 16-inning marathon in the first game of the South Super Regional, pitchers Christine Clark and Alanna Hadley were at it again in game two. Unfortunately for Florida Southern, so was Valdosta State first baseman Natalia Morozova. While Clark and Hadley put up matching goose eggs for most of the game, Morozova hit a 2-run homer in the top of the fourth to give the top-ranked Blazers a 2-0 win, and the 2012 South Region title.
Florida Southern (39-18) out-hit Valdosta State 6-5, but Morozova’s big hit was the difference for the second day in a row. Friday night, the senior first baseman had an RBI double with one out in the bottom of the 16th inning, lifting the Blazers (53-4) to a 2-1 win.
Both hits spoiled two otherwise dominating performances by Clark, the senior ace of the Moccasin pitching staff, who gave up just 14 hits in 23 innings to one of the top hitting teams in the country. Saturday, she allowed only five hits, struck out three and walked none, pitching her 33rd complete game of the season, the second most in school history. She finished the year 29-11 with a 0.89 ERA that ranks third in the nation.
Through the first three innings of Saturday’s game, the Moccasins had a hit in all of them while Clark held the Blazers hitless. The only VSU base runner during that time came on an error to start the game, but Clark set down 10 in a row before Samantha Posey hit a slow roller to short for an infield single in the top of the fourth. Two batters later, Morozova hit one over the fence in centerfield for her third home run of the season and a 2-0 Blazer lead.
Prior to that, Florida Southern got singles from Karlyn Scott in the first and third innings, and a single from Dayna Hunn in the second. Brittany Martin was also hit by a pitch in the second inning, but the Moccasins hit into a double play to end the first, and Martin was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a Valdosta error in the second. Scott was stranded at second after a stolen base in the third.
The Moccasins had more base runners in the fifth and sixth innings with a single by Clark and a walk by Steph Graziani, but left both runners in scoring position. In the bottom of the seventh, the Mocs rose up again with back-to-back 1-out singles by Clark and Devin Mathews, but Hadley got the final two outs to send Valdosta State to the national tournament for the second time in the last three years.
Hadley scattered six hits in her 12th shutout of the season, improving to 29-3. She struck out two and walked one, keeping her ERA under 1.00 for the season as well.
Scott and Clark each had two of Florida Southern’s six hits, while Hunn and Matthews had one. Matthews had a team-high three hits in the Super Regional.
The loss marked the final game for five seniors who were all starters on Florida Southern’s regional runner-up team: pitcher Christine Clark, first baseman Randi Grimes, second baseman Steph Graziani, third baseman Brittany Martin and centerfielder Karlyn Scott.