April 7, 2001
Chapel Hill, NC - Florida State and Florida Atlantic had already played two one-run games before today's opener of the 2001 Tar Heel Invitational but few would of expected what took place in today's game. After the Seminoles (38-6) built up a 4-0 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh, FAU (33-14) staged a two-out four run rally to tie the game and send the contest into extra innings which was eventually ended on a triple play with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth.
"That was some game," said head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf. "I'm still not quite sure what to say. We went from being in control of the game to almost losing it in the seventh to taking the lead in the eighth and the loading the bases with no outs in the bottom of the inning. I know that must have been a very hard game for FAU to lose after the way they fought back but I have to give our team credit for once again doing what they needed to do to get a win."
In a series that featured a 1-0 10-inning game and a 2-1 game, the Seminoles had to feel reasonably good as the headed into the bottom of the seventh with a 4-0 lead. Florida State opened the game with two runs in the first when sophomore Brandi Stuart and junior Kimmy Carter each recorded an RBI to put the Seminoles up 2-0. Carter knocked in another run in the fourth when she sent a high fly ball to left center that was dropped by the Owls scoring Staci Brandon and giving FSU a 3-0 lead. The Seminoles added a big run in the seventh considering what eventually happened in the bottom of the inning when Jessica van der Linden plated Carter on a ground ball out to the short stop to give the Noles a 4-0 lead.
The Owls, currently just outside the top 25 in the latest USAToday/NFCA poll, had recorded just three hits against FSU starter Leslie Malerich (14-2) as the game entered the bottom of the seventh inning. FAU started the inning with a single and Malerich then hit the second batter to put the first two Owls on base. Florida State catcher Carter then picked off FAU's Lianna Pratt at first and Malerich retired Kristin Gonzalez to bring the Noles just one out away from their 38th victory of the season. FAU then hit a single, double and triple in its next three at bats to plate four runs and send the game to extra innings.
Florida State broke on top 5-4 in the top of the eighth when FAU third baseman Michelle Shirah's error on a Jen White-Stokes hit allowed Brandi Stuart to score from second with what would be the eventual game winning run. The Owls attempted to stage their second comeback of the day when they loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the inning but a rare triple play put an end to the Florida Atlantic rally. It started when FAU second baseman Gonzalez flew out to FSU right fielder van der Linden who then threw home to Carter who tagged out pinch runner Jamie Sawyer trying to score on the play. After Carter applied the tag at home, she threw down to shortstop Natalie Bennett at second to nail FAU freshman Annie Norton trying to advance from first on the throw home. The triple play ended the game and gave Florida State a 2-1 edge in its three meetings with FAU. The win also tied the all-time series between the schools at 3-3 and gave FSU a series victory over one of the state's top softball programs.