April 7, 2012
BLACKSBURG, Va. (seminoles.com) - A strong response was made by the No. 21 Florida State University softball team as it came back from its series-opening loss Friday to win both games of Saturday's doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at Tech Softball Park versus Virginia Tech. FSU won game one, 7-3, and held on in game two by a 3-1 count.
The Seminoles (35-8, 10-2) were in danger of letting their conference lead slip away to second-place Virginia Tech after entering the day with a ½ game lead. However, FSU ensured that they would still remain atop the ACC standings after receiving a fine effort at the plate from junior Briana Hamilton. The Woodruff, S.C., native hit two home runs versus the Hokies (28-9, 7-4) in game one and provided a crucial run-scoring single in game two.
In FSU's two wins, Hamilton went 3-for-6 with two home runs, five RBIs and three runs scored. She finished the series with three round-trippers following Friday's blast, and now has nine for the season.
The Seminoles finished 18-for-56 on the day for a .321 batting average, combining for 18 base hits, including five for extra bases. Six FSU players finished with multiple hits on the day, including Erika Leonard, Kirstin Austin, Maddie O'Brien, Shayla Jackson, Tiffani Brown and Hamilton.
FSU got a big lift from its pitching today. Jessica Nori (2-0) earned the win in game one after allowing three runs on six hits with two strikeouts in a complete-game performance. In game two, Monica Perry (16-4) earned the victory after allowing just one run in five innings and Lacey Waldrop recorded her first save after pitching the final two innings and not allowing a run.
"I'm very proud of the way Lacey battled back today," head coach Lonni Alameda said. "The rubber game was crucial for us and she came in at a tough spot and made great pitches and stranded their runners. Our team as a whole really showed its character and we're happy to have this series win over a good Virginia Tech team under our belt."
FSU got off to a better start on Saturday in game one when it took an early 3-0 lead courtesy of a three-run home run by Hamilton on a full-count offering from Jasmin Harrell. With Jackson and O'Brien in scoring position, Hamilton drove the pitch to right center for her eighth home run of the season. Jackson reached base on a single through the right side and O'Brien's double to the left center gap put both runners in scoring position to set up Hamilton's blast.
The Seminoles scored another run in the second inning on a fielding error from Virginia Tech first baseman Courtney Liddle, bringing home Austin. With the bases loaded and one out, Jackson grounded into a fielder's choice to third base as Leonard was thrown out at home. On the same play, catcher Betty Rose's throw to first base in an attempt for a double play tailed off the glove of first baseman Liddle for the fielding error.
FSU's inability to close out innings as of late was shown in the fourth inning when Kelsey Mericka's two-out RBI double to right field scored Lauren Gaskill to make it 4-1. Dani Anderson followed with a run-scoring single through the right side to drive in Mericka and trim the deficit to 4-2.
Hamilton provided a big insurance run in the fifth inning when she led off with a solo home run that smacked off the scoreboard in right center to give FSU a 5-2 advantage. Hamilton joined O'Brien as the two Seminoles this season to record multiple home-run games.
As Nori continued to hold down the opposition, FSU benefitted from some missed pitches by reliever Isabella Corrao in the seventh. Hamilton and Courtney Senas started the inning with consecutive walks, and Amber Bryant lifted an opposite-field single to left field to load the bases with no outs. Evelyn Morgado then drew a bases-loaded walk, and Leonard blooped a single to left field to score another run. However, a liner by Austin resulted in a double play at third base, and Brown ended the inning on a groundout to help Virginia Tech keep the game within a manageable score.
Nori finished off the Hokies in the bottom of the seventh, although not without a solo home run from Kristen Froehlich with one out. After the round-tripper, Kat Banks recorded a single through the right side, but Nori fought back by inducing a fielder's choice to second base and a game-ending flyout to left field.
Game two of the doubleheader began with a leadoff home run from Virginia Tech's Lauren Gaskill on a full-count pitch to give the Hokies an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
FSU tied the game in the top of the third on an RBI groundout by O'Brien. Bryant led off with a walk and advanced to second base on a single by Brown to left field. Following a groundout from Jackson that advanced both runners into scoring position, O'Brien protected with a 2-2 count and hit a soft grounder to first base that allowed Bryant to score.
In the fifth, O'Brien and Hamilton came through with two substantial run-scoring hits. O'Brien took a 1-0 pitch from Bailey Liddle (8-4) and singled to left field to score a hustling Bryant at home, making it 2-1. Hamilton followed by sneaking in a grounder through the left side to score O'Brien, who made a tremendous hand slide around the catcher on a very close play at the plate.
FSU returns to JoAnne Graf Field for a game versus Florida A&M on Tuesday, April 10, at 6 p.m. FSU follows with a Thursday home contest versus South Alabama at 6 p.m. in which there will be a home run derby for fans to participate in.