March 18, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida State softball team has an important mid-week test on Tuesday evening as it travels to Southeastern Conference opponent Auburn for a single game matchup on March 19 at 6 p.m. ET/5 p.m. CT at Jane B. Moore Field in Auburn, Ala.
The Seminoles (23-9) lead the Tigers (20-10) 12-7-1 all-time, but have lost their last four matchups in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011 against Auburn. In their last meeting on March 8, 2011 in Auburn, Florida State lost 5-3 but out-hit the Tigers by a 10-4 margin. Senior outfielder Morgan Bullock pitched two shutout innings in relief in the contest.
The Seminoles are coming off a 3-1 showing at the Sunshine Classic last weekend, defeating Minnesota once and Georgia Southern twice. Florida State entered the invitational with a season-high 10-game win streak that was snapped against the Gophers last Friday, falling 3-2.
"The SEC always features a difficult opponent, no matter who you are playing," head coach Lonni Alameda said. "Auburn has some tremendous players offensively and a few good pitchers who do an excellent job. The competition they play in conference prepares them well for any non-conference matchup, so we'll have to bring our `A' game in order to come out on top."
One of the highlights last weekend was pitcher Monica Perry's Saturday performance against Georgia Southern. Perry tied her career high with 13 strikeouts in the 4-0 shutout. Since her March 2 start against Appalachian State, Perry has tossed five shutouts and totaled just a 0.83 ERA. Through her last eight appearances that stem back to March 2, the Whitesburg, Ga. native has struck out 53 and walked just six in 42 innings pitched. In that time, she has picked up five complete-game performances.
Despite missing five probable starters due to injuries in both the fall and during the season, Florida State's offense has grown enormously this year. The Seminoles are batting .299 through 32 games this season. In 2012, Florida State batted .272 through its first 32 games.
Along with Perry, sophomore Lacey Waldrop has been sensational in her last eight appearances, including seven games started. In that time period, she has allowed just four earned runs and has struck out 49 batters in 33.2 innings pitched.
Florida State has done its greatest damage offensively when getting out to early leads. The Seminoles are outscoring the opposition 194-64, and their greatest scoring margin has come in the first inning where they are outscoring their opponents 46-6. Florida State is 21-1 when it scores first and 14-1 when it scores in the first inning.
Junior Kelly Hensley is coming off a career-high six RBI performance in a 12-3 win over Georgia Southern in five innings Sunday. Last week, Hensley delivered two walk-off three-run home runs that ended games in mercy-rule fashion, increasing Florida State's total to 11 mercy-rule victories this season.
Auburn was swept by conference opponent Georgia last weekend at home, but recently defeated Florida on March 9 by a 5-4 score to take one of three in the series. The Tigers are 3-1 in mid-week contests this season.
Sophomore outfielder Branndi Melero has been a vital performer for Auburn, leading the team with a .442 batting average, six home runs and 30 RBIs. The Tigers have a good hitting lineup that averages .299 at the plate, with three other starters batting above .300 in Emily Carosone, Morgan Estell and Brooke Lathan.
Freshman Marcy Harper leads Auburn with a 10-4 record in the circle, showing a 2.55 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 82.1 innings pitched. Pitchers Hilary Mavromat and Lexi Davis have also thrown over 50 innings each to help solidify the pitching staff.
Follow Tuesday's game via live statistics on CBS GameTracker. Fans can also get in-game updates via Twitter by following @FSU_Softball.