May 10, 2004
Ypsilanti, MI –
Seminole pitcher Casey Hunter had a dominant performance Monday as she became just the sixth FSU pitcher to ever record 30 wins in a season. The junior improved to 30-3 as she led the No. 2 FSU softball team (54-8) to a 2-0 win over Eastern Michigan (18-30) Monday afternoon. All-American Jessica van der Linden led the way offensively as she recorded her 18th game-winning RBI of the year on her third home run of the season.
Hunter recorded 10 strikeouts and didn’t issue a single walk in recording her 13th shutout of the season. She allowed just four hits as she continues to set new season highs in her third year at FSU. van der Linden went 1 for 3 with two runs scored and an RBI and Elisa Vasquez also pitched in with an RBI single.
After having some trouble scoring versus No. 7 Michigan on Saturday, the Tribe got off to a good start in game one versus Eastern Michigan. van der Linden gave FSU an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first as she hit her third home run of the season. The shot over the fence in right center gave the senior her 47th RBI of the season, which is the third-highest single season total in team history. It was also the 39th HR of the year for FSU, which is attempting to hit 40 for the first time in school history.
The Seminoles tried to stage a two-out rally in the third as EMU starter Nikki Denman (6-8) issued back-to-back walks after retiring the first two batters of the inning. That brought up van der Linden who homered off Denman her last at bat. The All-America looked like she was going to get her second straight hit but a diving catch in center field ended the FSU threat and kept Eastern Michigan within a run at 1-0.
Denman continued to struggle with her control in the fourth as she issued a free pass to Lesley Palmer. Vasquez sacrificed pinch runner Carey Galuppi to second. Denman then got a ground out for the second out of the frame but Galuppi did advance to third on the play. The Seminoles were unable to capitalize as Denman recorded her third K to retire the side.
Another EMU defensive gem stopped a Seminole rally before it could start in the fifth. Kim Hoffer led off by slicing a shot into the gap in right but another diving catch kept the Seminole leadoff batter off base and the Tribe could not build on its 1-0 lead.
A free pass to van der Linden and a hit by pitch put two runners on for FSU with one away in the top of the sixth. Vasquez then followed with a single through the right side of the infield putting runners on the corners and plating van der Linden with FSU’s second run. A walk to Tatiana George loaded the bases with still just one away in the inning before Denman recorded the second out on her fourth K of the game. The EMU hurler then ended the threat on a ground out to second.
Eastern staged its first rally of the game in the bottom of the sixth as they recorded just their second and third hits of the game. The Eagles put runners on first and second with two outs as the team’s leading hitter stepped into the box. Denman entered Monday’s game with 10 homers on the season but she hardly had a chance to swing as a double steal ended the inning when Vasquez gunned the runner down at third.
The Seminoles looked for some insurance in the seventh as they tried to put a two-out rally together. Natasha Jacob walked and van der Linden reached on an error but the Seminoles couldn’t capitalize on the EMU miscues.
Denman, who didn’t get a chance to hit in the sixth after the failed double steal, started the seventh with a double to center field. Hunter recorded her first out of the seventh with her 10th K of the day and then a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to third with two away. The attempted EMU came to an end though on a foul out to Vasquez ending the game.
After completing the twin bill with Eastern Michigan, Florida State will open postseason play as the No. 1 seed at the ACC Tournament in Tallahassee May 14. The Tribe will face the Georgia Tech/NC State winner at 5:30 p.m. Friday. For more information on the 2004 FSU softball team or the 2004 ACC Championship in Tallahassee please log on to the official athletic website of Florida State University at www.seminoles.com.