Feb. 28, 2006
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
There was more than one reason for the Florida State University softball team to enjoy Fat Tuesday. The biggest reason was the end of the Seminoles’ three-game losing streak as they topped cross town rival Florida A&M 5-2 on Tuesday (Feb. 28) at the Lady Rattler Softball Complex.
Florida State improved to 9-5 on the year. The Rattlers dropped to 5-7.
“It was really important for our pitcher’s confidence and our offense’s confidence that we scored those runs early,” FSU head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf said. “We didn’t score any runs last weekend and we needed to get our bats going so I’m excited that we jumped on them early.”
Sophomore pitcher Tiffany McDonald (Belfair, Wash.) made two appearances in the game, throwing the first three innings as well as the last two, to earn her seventh win of the year and up her make to 7-2. The right-hander threw five shutout innings and gave up three hits with ten strikeouts – her second double-digit strikeout game of the year – and just two walks. FAMU’s Danielle Brown took the loss with her record falling to 3-4.
Florida State managed to get its first run of the game without getting a hit. Lead off hitter Natasha Jacob (Coppell, Texas) was given new life when her pop foul was deemed a dead ball. Two pitches later the left fielder was walked. The All-America candidate proceed to steal second and third – tying her career high for stolen bases – before scoring on a wild pitch.
Changing its fortunes from the weekend, the Seminoles took advantage of their scoring opportunity in the second inning. With one out, third baseman Michelle Snyder (Wenatchee, Wash.) drilled double to left field that tipped off the fielder’s glove. Short stop Yuruby Alicart (Maracay, Venezuela) cranked a triple to right field to score Snyder then scored FSU’s second run of the game via a wild pitch.
Again in the third inning the Seminoles manufactured more runs as they increased their lead to 5-0. Using its team speed, Florida State put the first three runners on base without getting a ball out of the infield. Jacob, Whitney Buckmon (Stone Mountain, Ga.) and Veronica Wootson (Fontana, Calif.) all laid down bunts to load the bases.
The Rattlers almost got out of the inning unharmed as Jacob was eliminated at the plate on a fielder’s choice and Kim Hoffer (Houston, Texas) struck out. A flair off Snyder’s bat barely cleared the pitcher’s head but found a hole in the defense and allowed Buckmon to score. For the third inning in a row, Florida State scored on a wild pitch when Wootson crossed the plate with FSU’s fifth run.
“We need to take advantage of our team speed, that’s one of our biggest assets,” Graf added. “If those runners get on they can create havoc and they can create some mistakes. That’s what happened tonight and that’s what led to the early runs.”
Eight of the nine starters in the Florida State line-up reached base at least once led by Snyder who was on three of the four times she came to the plate, including a pair of hits. All five of FSU’s runs were scored by five different players.
Florida A&M got its only two runs of the night in the sixth inning off reliever Kayla Collins (Niceville, Fla.). All three of FSU’s pitcher saw action in the game as lefty Melissa May (San Diego, Calif.) threw two scoreless innings in relief of McDonald.
The Seminoles return to JoAnne Graf Field to take on defending national champion and seventh-ranked Michigan at 5 p.m. on Thursday. It will be the first time a reigning national champion has played in Tallahassee.