Feb. 27, 2011
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (seminoles.com) - Senior Ashley Stager led the Florida State University softball team to a split in its final two games on Saturday evening at the Cathedral City Classic. FSU defeated Long Beach State, 4-1, and lost to San Diego State, 10-2.
The talented shortstop from Trinity, Fla., finished 6-for-13 (.462) with three home runs, five RBIs, three runs scored and a 1.154 slugging percentage at the Cathedral City Classic. Stager went 1-for-1 with a solo home run this evening against Long Beach State, and 2-for-2 with another solo home run in the Classic finale against San Diego State.
"Ashley was certainly a bright spot for us this week. She came out with great energy each game and set the tone for our offense," head coach Lonni Alameda said. "Like I've mentioned before, this team will continue to grow in certain areas, and the experience they got here this week was extremely beneficial."
The Seminoles (9-7) finished 2-3 at one of the country's most prestigious softball events. Victories over quality nonconference opponents Long Beach State and No. 25 BYU highlighted FSU's week in the West Coast, while it fell to Oregon State, Northwestern and the Aztecs (6-6).
Also having an impressive showing at the plate this week was sophomore third baseman Tiffani Brown. She also went 6-for-13 and led the Seminoles with four runs scored while stealing two bases in the five games played. She leads FSU with a .392 batting average, four triples, 10 stolen bases and 32 total bases this season.
Against the 49ers (9-4), pitcher Morgan Bullock (3-1) pounded the strike zone and gave FSU a quality nonconference victory. After adjusting to a small strike zone in the early going, Bullock allowed one run in four innings pitched. Her key start gave way to Sarah Hamilton's eighth career save, which ties former player Tiffany McDonald for first on FSU's career list.
Hamilton stifled Long Beach State by tossing three shutout innings and striking out five. She has two saves this season and shows 73 strikeouts in 54.1 innings pitched.
FSU got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning when Courtney Senas hammered a 1-2 offering the opposite way into right field, scoring Brown from first base. Senas scored on the same play when second baseman Nalani St. Germain threw a relay past Long Beach State's third baseman. Jen Lapicki followed by reaching base on an error from third base, which scored Robin Ahrberg from second base.
In the bottom of the third, Stager hammered an 0-1 fastball with two outs over the left field fence, making it 4-1. At the time it was Stager's second home run in the Cathedral City Classic, with both being power shots that padded FSU's lead.
Briana Hamilton nearly gave FSU a four-run cushion in the fourth, hitting a 3-2 pitch that went over the fence but was caught by a diving Megan Denio in left field, robbing Hamilton of her second home run this season.
In game two against San Diego State, Brown crossed home in the first inning after Robin Ahrberg's groundout advanced her to third base. On the same play, a fielding error was made by third baseman Ashley Rose to advance Brown to home plate, making it 1-0.
However, FSU could not avoid the big inning as the Aztecs produced three runs in the first inning, five in the second frame and two in the third. San Diego State pounded out nine hits, while the Seminoles tallied three in a five-inning mercy rule game.
Stager provided FSU's biggest highlight in the contest when she drove the first pitch she saw in the fourth over the centerfield fence.
The Seminoles head home to Tallahassee to take part in the Big Ten/Mountain West/ACC Challenge at JoAnne Graf Field. Play begins Saturday, March 5, at 1 p.m. against the Badgers.