Feb. 19, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) - The No. 23 ranked Florida State softball team begins a six-game trip away from JoAnne Graf Field as it heads to Orlando, Fla. to take on UCF in a Wednesday tilt at 6 p.m. at the UCF Softball Complex.
The Seminoles (7-2) and Knights (5-5) have put together back-to-back nail-biters as part of the series history. In 2012, then-junior Briana Hamilton hit a walk-off grand slam to defeat the Knights at home. In 2011, the Seminoles gave up a 1-0 lead in the seventh inning and fell 2-1 on the road.
Florida State leads the all-time series 11-5 dating back to 2002. The Seminoles are 5-3 against UCF when playing them on the road, with their last road victory coming in 2010.
"Any time we play UCF we know we're going to have to work for a W," head coach Lonni Alameda said. "The last couple of meetings have come right down to the wire, and they're a program that has a lot of hard-working, hard-nosed players who get after it. This will be a good test for us to head on the road within the state of Florida and play in a venue that typically provides us a pretty good atmosphere."
Junior Courtney Senas was Florida State's top player at the plate last weekend, going 6-for-16 with 10 RBIs, two doubles and two home runs at the Unconquered Invitational. The Wahiawa, Hawaii native was rewarded with her first career ACC Player of the Week award.
In four games started, sophomore pitcher Lacey Waldrop is 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA and has 29 strikeouts in 23.1 innings pitched. In Florida State's loss on Sunday to Tulsa in the tournament championship, the Chester, Va. native retired all 11 of her batters faced in relief and kept the Golden Hurricane off-balanced. Waldrop is holding the opposition to a .133 batting average this season.
Senior Briana Hamilton enters the UCF matchup having reached base in all nine of Florida State's games this season. The feat is nothing new at Florida State, with at least one player reaching base in the first nine games of the season in nearly every season since 2006. Only in 2008 and 2011 did a player not reach base in the team's first nine games in that time span.
Hamilton also leads the Seminoles with three home runs, coming off a junior season when she registered 12 round-trippers. Hamilton has 19 career home runs as a Seminole, tied for the seventh-most at Florida State with Lisa Davidson (1991-94). The school record is 29 held by Veronica Wootson (2004-07).
In nine games played, senior Tiffani Brown leads the Seminoles with a .469 average (15-for-32) and has scored 11 runs. She began the season with her first career four-hit game, going 4-for-4 against Florida A&M. Brown has five multiple-hit performances already, including two-hit games against Bethune-Cookman, Jacksonville, Arkansas and Hofstra.
UCF rebounded nicely from an 0-5 start to the season by winning the UCF Holiday Inn Select tournament last weekend. The Knights defeated Florida A&M twice, North Florida, UT-Arlington and Buffalo.
Sophomore shortstop Kahley Novak is among the Knights' leaders with a .387 batting average, 12 base hits, two doubles and 14 total bases.
The Seminoles faced UCF pitcher Mackenzie Audas in last year's close affair. The sophomore who was named the Conference USA Co-Pitcher of the Year in 2012 is 3-2 with a 1.48 ERA and has 33 strikeouts in 33 innings pitched. Last season, Audas pitched superbly against the Seminoles through the first six innings until Florida State scored six runs off her from the seventh to ninth frames.
Wednesday's matchup will be streamed on UCF's athletic website through the All-Access page. A subscription is required for viewing. The game will also have live stats on CBS GameTracker off the Seminoles.com website.
Following the Seminoles' mid-week matchup in Orlando, they will travel to Palm Springs, Calif. for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. Included in the five-game slate are games against No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 17 Stanford and No. 22 Washington.
Be sure to follow the Seminole softball team on its official Facebook page (Facebook.com/FSUSoftball) as well as on Twitter at @FSU_Softball.