May 14, 2006
CHAPEL HILL, N.C –
Coming into the Atlantic Coast Conference as a fifth seed, those not wearing the Garnet and Gold probably didn’t expect the Florida State University softball team to be in the title game. The Seminoles made an impressive run through the tournament, but it was ended on Sunday (May 14) when they were defeated 4-1 by top seed and No. 22 North Carolina State.
Florida State will now wait to see if it earns one of the 34 at-large spots in the NCAA Tournament. It would be the 19th appearances for the Seminoles in the big dance, their sixth in a row. Tournament pairings and host sites will be announced at 3:30 p.m. on ESPNEWS.
“I thought we did a great job this week,” FSU head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf said. “We were seeded fifth and made it to the championships game. A lot of people didn’t expect us to be here so I’m happy for the kids. NC State had a great season and they deserved to finish off as champions. They hit the ball when they needed to and they made a pitching change when they needed to.”
The Seminoles end the tournament at 41-27, their 24th 40-win season. NC State improved to 49-19.
Sophomore Tiffany McDonald (Belfair, Wash.) was the workhorse for the Seminoles in the tournament, throwing all 32 innings FSU. The right-hander was saddled with the loss in the championship game as her record dropped to 28-17. McDonald gave up four runs on nine hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Getting the victory was NC State reliever Shaina Ervin as she came on in the third to throw the final five innings and improve to 19-3.
NC State struck for the first run of the game when Shanna Smith hit a solo home run to right field. Florida State had its chances early in the game, putting runners in scoring position in the first three innings.
Shortstop Yuruby Alicart (Maracay, Venezuela) picked up a single in the first and moved on a wild pitch while first baseman Brittany Osmon (San Diego, Calif.) reached on a fielder’s choice then got to second on a single by center fielder Carly Brieske (Safety Harbor, Fla.).In the top of the third, left fielder Natasha Jacob (Coppell, Texas) laid down a bunt single and took second on a past ball.
The Seminoles got their first run in the top of the sixth inning. Designated player Whitney Buckmon (Stone Mountain, Ga.) reached on an error by Ervin then went to third on a double by Alicart, who had two of FSU’s five hits. Second baseman Veronica Wootson (Fontana, Calif.) lofted a sacrifice fly to left field to score Buckmon.
NC State broke the game open with a pair of runs in third inning. The big hit was an RBI double by Megan Dalthorp. Jennifer Chamberlin added a solo home run in the fifth.
“We’ve been hitting the ball really well and scored a lot more runs the last two weeks,” Graf added. “I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’re going to get in, but we’re going to continue to grow as a team. We’ve got a lot of youth and they’ve seen what it takes to win and now we’re getting ready for the postseason.”
Florida State placed two players on the ACC All-Tournament team, led by Brieske who was the second leading hitter during the league summit with a .500 average. Also making the team was McDonald.