May 24, 2002
Oklahoma City, OK - For the eighth time in nine tries, the Cal Golden Bears got the best of the 21st-ranked Seminoles (54-19), this time it was in the second round of the 2002 Women's College World Series. The Bears (54-19) only run of the day came off a solo blast from a batter that was called out just two pitches earlier by the third base umpire before given new life when the ump behind the plate reversed the call. The home run just two pitches later by Chelsea Spencer turned out to be the lone run of the game.
"That was really tough," said third baseman Becky Brock. "One second you have retired a tough batter and you are one out closer to getting out of the inning and two seconds later she hits the game-winning home run. I thought it was a fair ball that we threw her out on but I wasn't sure. It was just heart-breaking."
Yesterday's hero on the mound for FSU, Leslie Malerich (34-13) was dominate again Friday as she scattered five hits over seven innings and recorded two strikeouts. For the 12th time in her last 12 appearances, FSU failed to score more than three runs for her as the team was shutout for just the seventh time all season.
"I felt pretty good but I still feel pretty shot from pitching three games Sunday," said Malerich. "I thought I did pretty well except for the one pitch. I probably left it up a little more than I would have liked but it wasn't straight down the middle or anything. That was the only pitch that hurt me. I always seem to get a little tired in the middle innings and that was no different today.
"My whole team and coaching staff is behind me because they know we haven't really been hitting that well lately so the pressure is on me to be perfect. They keep telling me how great of a job I am doing. I don't think I did good enough though. I take a lot of the blame because it was my pitch that went over the fence."
The senior hurler came out in the top of the first and struck out the second batter she faced after recording just one K in nine innings in Thursday's upset of top-ranked and first-seeded UCLA. Malerich went on to set the Bears down in order in the top of the first.
Florida State came up to get its first look at Cal ace Jocelyn Forest (26-12) and the right-hander lived up to her reputation setting the Tribe down in order in the bottom of the inning. Cal looked to get something going in the second as Malerich pitched around power-hitter Veronica Nelson and issuing the first walk of the game. After Cal replaced her with a pinch runner, which they can only do once per game, the senior hurler and the FSU defense closed out the inning in dominant fashion. Malerich retired the second batter of the inning on a ground ball up the middle as she cut down the lead runner. First baseman Beth Wade took care of the rest as the redshirt-sophomore snagged a liner headed down the right field line and stepped on the bag for the double play.
The Tribe looked to get on the board in the bottom of the second as Tatiana George was hit by a pitch and moved over to second on Monique Marier's sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Beth Wade looked to put the Garnet and Gold up as she sent a deep shot to left field. The potential homer curved foul and Forest worked her way out of the inning with the score still 0-0.
In the top of the third, Malerich faced the minimum amount of batters for the third time in three innings. She induced a ground out to start off the inning and then corralled a short pop to the mound to retire the second batter. Malerich then got Kristen Bayless swinging for her second strike out of the game and through three innings she had already doubled her K total from her opening day victory over UCLA.
Cal lead-off hitter Kaleo Eldredge got the first hit of the day on a soft shot up the middle. The Bears put together back-to-back singles as last year's NCAA Tallahassee Regional hero Kristen Morley beat out an infield single to put runners on first and second with no one out. The Bears tried to move the runners up as Eldredge took off for third but Kimmy Carter gunned her down as shortstop Tatiana George completely blocked the bag on the attempted steal and applied the tag. Malerich retired the second hitter as Beth Wade snared a soft liner in foul territory bringing Nelson to the plate. The Seminoles intentionally walked the clean-up hitter and elected to face Courtney Scott with two on and two down in the fourth. An error by the FSU defense loaded the bases as Malerich tried to bail her teammates out. The pitcher induced a ground out and George threw out the runner at third to retire the side and end the threat.
The Seminoles broke up the Forest no hitter in the bottom of the frame. The Bear ace retired the first two batters she saw with one coming on a smash to first that Jessica van der Linden almost beat out. All-American first team selection Brandi Stuart then laid down a perfect bunt towards first and easily beat the throw to give FSU its first base runner of the day.
Cal jumped out to the lead in the fifth when shortstop Chelsea Spencer led-off the inning with a deep shot over the left field fence. The homer almost never came to pass as Spencer seemed to be thrown out on a great defensive play by Becky Brock two pitches earlier. The home plate umpire called the ball foul after Spencer was already heading to the dugout when the umpire gave her new life and she took advantage of it. The home run was just the second allowed in 60 innings of postseason play by Malerich and the last home run she allowed was in the Regional Championship when FSU defeated Georgia Tech 6-1 to earn a ticket to the Women's College World Series.
The Garnet and Gold were unable to answer the Golden Bear score in the bottom of the fifth as the game moved to the sixth and Cal once again led the inning off with a hit for the third inning in a row. Candace Harper moved to second on a ground out but Malerich got out of the inning on a great defensive play at third by Brock and then getting an out on a ball sent right back to the mound to retire the side.
Florida State, down to its last six outs, sent pinch hitter Elisa Velasco to the plate to start things off in the sixth. The sophomore laced the first pitch she saw into the corner into left field but Cal had her played perfectly as leftfielder Bayless snared the shot retiring Velasco. After Forest got Colzie on a line out to third, Carter hit another Forest offering very hard to center but the Golden Bears were in perfect position again to make the out and end the frame.
Malerich set the Bears down one, two, three in the top of the seventh bringing up the heart of the FSU order in the bottom of the frame with just the Tribe down to its last three outs. Van der Linden started things off with a ground out to first that she nearly beat out on a head first slide. That brought up Stuart who had FSU's only hit on the day in the fourth. The junior from Cerritos, CA blasted a shot to short that Spencer was unable to handle for her second hit of the day and just the team's second hit off of Forest. The Bears got George swinging bringing up Marier with the chance to win her second straight game for the Seminoles but Forest was just too much for FSU to handle as she got Marier to ground out ending the game.
"I just saw the ball today and tried to hit it well," said Stuart. "I knew from seeing her (Jocelyn Forest) last year that I was going to have to be very disciplined today and have a lot of patience. Jocelyn (Forest) is a great pitcher and I am not going to take that away from her. Do I think she is beatable? Yes. We just have to be more patient the next time around."
Florida State continues College World Series play Saturday, May 25 at 10:00 p.m. EST in a nationally televised game on ESPN2 versus the winner of tomorrow's Michigan/Nebraska game. The Tribe lost 1-0 to Michigan and Marissa Young in Tallahassee earlier this season and fell 3-0 to Nebraska in the 2001 season. For more information on the Seminole softball team and the 2002 College World Series, please log on to seminoles.com. Feel like you are with FSU in Oklahoma City by logging on to the university's official athletic website, which has a 2002 College World Series webpage that contains a live stats link, World Series photo galleries and diaries, press conference transcripts and so much more.