May 11, 2006
Chapel Hill, N.C. –
With memories of last year’s disappointing Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament still fresh in its mind, the Florida State University softball team made sure this time around was different. The fifth-seeded Seminoles erupted for seven runs in the first inning and never look back as they beat No. 4 Georgia Tech 10-1 in five innings on Thursday (May 11).
The win sets the Seminoles up for a second-round contest against the tournament’s top seed, North Carolina State, at 3 p.m. on Friday.
Florida State improved its record to 39-25 overall. Georgia Tech dropped to 43-19.
“You have to win the first game,” FSU head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf said. “If you don’t win the first game you have to play all day and it puts a burden on your pitching staff. Our plan is to try to win one game per day. NC State is going to be a tough team tomorrow.
Getting the victory was sophomore Tiffany McDonald (Belfair, Wash.) as she improved to 26-15, tying her for tenth on the FSU single-season charts. The righty gave up one run on five hits with three strikeouts and no walks. Taking the loss was GT’s Whitney Humphreys as she fell to 17-7.
“She shut them down,” Graf said of McDonald. “She had one bad pitch, but she kept them off balance and did a great job.”
Continuing their recent trend of quick starts, the Seminoles exploded for seven runs in the top of the first inning. Left fielder Natasha Jacob (Coppell, Texas) started with a single to center field then moved up to second as designated player Whitney Buckmon (Stone Mountain, Ga.) reached on an error. Shortstop Yuruby Alicart (Maracay, Venezuela) was walked then Jacob scored when the Georgia Tech catcher pulled her foot off the plate off a grounder by second baseman Veronica Wootson (Fontana, Calif.).
“Natasha got a hit right away to ignite the offense and then it just exploded,” Graf added. “We did everything right. We jumped on them early and stopped any momentum they may have had.”
Catcher Melissa Wood (Lilburn, Ga.) has hit by a pitch to push Buckmon across then first baseman Brittany Osmon (San Diego, Calif.) ripped a single to score Alicart and chase Humphreys out of the game. Another run came across when center fielder Carly Brieske (Safety Harbor, Fla.) singled home Wootson.
Two outs later, right fielder LaShaun Davis (Marietta, Ga.) picked up an infield single to score pinch runner Robyn Petrovich (Plantation, Fla.). Jacob reached for the second time in the inning on an error that got Davis to third. Buckmon drilled a single to center field that scored Davis with the seventh run. Florida State sent 12 batters to the plate during the inning with eight of the nine players reaching base.
The Yellow Jackets broke through for their first run in the second inning when Daisy Paez drilled a solo home run to center field. However, that would be the only offense from the top hitting team in the conference. After the Paez homer, Georgia Tech would not put another runner in scoring position. For the game, only two Yellow Jacket runners got past second base.
“With a team like Georgia Tech you have to keep the ball off the plate because if it’s close their going to hit it,” McDonald said. “I needed to have good movement on the ball. I had to have my best stuff and maybe it wasn’t one of my best games, but I was able to keep the ball off the plate and the offense did a great job.”
FSU answered with three in the top of the third off the Yellow Jackets third pitcher to take a 10-1 lead. Jacob and Buckmon started the frame with back-to-back singles. Wootson drove home Jacob with the first run. After Wood was hit for the second time, Osmon drilled a single to push Buckmon and Wootson across the plate.
The ten runs were the most scored by the Seminoles since putting up 11 against Western Illinois on March 11. Florida State has pounded out nine or more hits in each of its last five games with ten or more in four of the five. Six of the nine batters in the line up got a hit with four of the six collecting two. Jacob and Buckmon each had two hits and scored a pair of runs. Osmon had two hits and drove in a team-best three runs while Brieske added two hits and an RBI.
The Seminoles now takes on a North Carolina State team that took two of three from the FSU during the regular season. This will be the first meeting between the Seminoles and the Wolfpack in the ACC Tournament.