SALEM, Va. — Dixie State’s softball team made a lot of amazing comebacks during its 27-game winning streak, but falling down early against perennial powerhouse Valdosta State (Ga.) was just asking too much, especially when the Red Storm were playing arguably their worst game of the year.
Dixie State committed three errors and gave up seven walks while getting mercy-ruled by Valdosta 8-0 Friday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Division II World Series.
“We just didn’t play well — pitching, hitting, fielding — in all three phases of the game,” DSU coach Randy Simkins said. “Obviously Valdosta State is a good team. They won it all in 2012 and finished second two years before that. But the big thing is we didn’t field it like we need to. We weren’t aggressive at the plate and we didn’t go after hitter with our pitching. We had no rhythm today. We were very passive.”
Blazers pitcher Brianna Hancock was sharp, allowing just one Dixie State hit and walking just two batters.
“She was very good, but not the best we’ve seen this year,” Simkins said. “We hit a lot of balls very hard that just didn’t find a spot. A lot of them were line drives that were right at people.”
With Hancock in control, Valdosta wouldn’t need a lot of offense in this one. A solo home run by Heather Robinson put the Blazers up 1-0 in the second inning.
VSU added two more runs in the third inning as Dixie State starter Michelle Duncan walked two and gave up a single. But the big blow came on a fielding error by Nicole Chavez which brought home both runs.
Aryn Feickert came in to shut down the rally in the third, but the 3-0 deficit ballooned to 8-0 in the fourth when the Blazers brought nine hitters to the plate. Three of them walked and three others had base hits. Combine those with two more Dixie State errors and the wheels were officially off with the 5-run rally.
“Our strike percentage was terrible, about 50 percent,” Simkins said. “It needs to be at 65 or 70. When you work from behind on counts, advantage goes to the hitter. Even if they don’t walk, it’s much easier to hit when the count is 2-0 as opposed to 0-2.”
DSU’s only base hit was a single in the fourth inning by Thursday’s hero, Courtney Sherwin.
The Red Storm will now have to win four straight games against the nation’s best to become National Champions. That journey begins Saturday with a 5 p.m. (EST) game vs. the winner of a noon elimination game between Long Island University-Post, N.Y., (50-10) and West Chester, Pa., (37-20). The Pioneers and Golden Rams both lost first-round games and the loser of their game will be eliminated from the tourney.
“I have no doubt we’ll be ready to play tomorrow,” Simkins said. “I’m fully confident we’ll bounce back. We just need to do a better job of being aggressive at the plate. We were way too passive. And we’ve got to clean things up in the field.”
DSU fell to 50-8, while Valdosta State improves to 47-14 on the year and advances to Sunday’s semifinal game at 2:30 p.m. (EST).
Stats: VSU 8, DSU 0
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