May 14, 2011
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ATLANTA, Ga. (seminoles.com) - Long-distance home runs by Celeste Gomez, Courtney Senas and Jen Lapicki highlighted the Florida State University softball team's 12-hit attack as it defeated No. 8 seed Virginia, 12-5, on Saturday afternoon at Mewen Field. The victory moves FSU into the ACC Championship game for the third consecutive year, this time facing No. 2 seed North Carolina on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.
Tomorrow's championship contest will be televised on delay at 11 p.m. on Sun Sports for those in Florida looking to access the game. The contest, however, will air live in a host of other areas that carry FOX Sports South, FOX Sports Carolinas and SportSouth. Information regarding the televised areas of tomorrow's championship can be found on the softball central page of theacc.com.
FSU's hitting barrage propelled 10 unanswered runs between the third and seventh innings. Gomez started the game right for the Seminoles (29-26) after she lifted a pitch deep over the left field wall in the first inning to make it 2-0. Senas' solo home run led off the fourth inning and helped provide FSU a small cushion at 7-5. Lapicki's two-run shot in the sixth inning virtually sealed the game as it broadened FSU's lead to 11-5.
"Our bats have come alive in this last week," said head coach Lonni Alameda. "We're extremely happy to be back in the ACC Championship game playing a sound ballclub in North Carolina. One of our goals of the season, as with every season, was to win another ACC Championship and hopefully by this time tomorrow we'll have reached that goal."
Once again in this year's championship, the Seminoles responded to any sort of adversity in humbling fashion. In Friday's first-round matchup against fifth-seeded Virginia Tech, FSU scored seven unanswered runs after the Hokies looked to swing momentum early in the game after tying the contest at 2-2 on a two-run home run.
Against Virginia, FSU built an early 2-0 lead but let it slip away, allowing the Cavaliers to take a three-run lead at 5-2 due to a series of fielding miscues that led to unearned runs. FSU never seemed to flinch, and responded with a four-run third inning that was aided by some errors from the Cavaliers (24-31).
In that frame, junior Shayla Jackson got things started when she hit a triple over the head of right fielder Cynthia Javaras, who was playing in on the slap-hitter. Lapicki followed with a key at-bat, hitting an RBI single up the middle to trim the deficit to 5-3. Later in the inning with two outs, Morgan Bullock reached base on an errant throw from third baseman Erica Cipolloni to bring home Celeste Gomez.
One of the game-changing plays occurred in the next at-bat, as Robin Ahrberg hit a ball that took a tricky hop off shortstop Alex Skinkis' glove to bring home two more runs. Bullock was heads up on the play, catching UVA's infielders off guard after a relay throw from the outfield was casually handled. The two runs gave FSU the lead at 6-5.
Lapicki led the Seminoles with a 3-for-4 performance and four RBIs, driving home runs in the third, fourth and sixth innings. Gomez and Senas added two hits apiece, while Ashley Stager performed well again at the bottom of the order by going 2-for-3 with a lining RBI double to centerfield in the seventh.
Staying poised in the circle was senior pitcher Sarah Hamilton (18-17), who responded well to Virginia's early three-run lead. Hamilton and her counterpart Melanie Mitchell (17-17) worked with a small strike zone all afternoon, but the Tallahassee native kept going after her hitters with a mix of fastballs and changeups.
Hamilton finished the day allowing just one earned run in five innings pitched on seven hits with three strikeouts. Virginia had the bases loaded with a 5-2 lead and two outs in the second inning, but Hamilton made one of the game's most important plays by striking out Alison Pittman. Hamilton now has 984 career strikeouts.
FSU seeks its 11th ACC postseason championship crown on Sunday, and makes its 16th championship game appearance. Fans can also follow tomorrow's game on Twitter with @FSU_softball, or access CBS GameTracker off the Seminoles.com softball page.
Following the game, the Seminoles will learn of their NCAA postseason fate when the softball selection shows airs on Sunday evening at 10 p.m. ET on ESPNU.