May 16, 2004
Tallahassee, FL –
For the 10th time in the conference’s 13 years, the fourth-ranked FSU softball team took home the ACC’s top prize when they downed No. 24 Georgia Tech (45-17) 3-1 Sunday afternoon. The Tribe (57-9) needed just three games to win their seventh back-to-back ACC crown as the squad swept through the tournament for the seventh time. Florida State went 3-0 and outscored the ACC Tournament field 14-3.
“Obviously this was a great ball game. Georgia Tech has a lot of fight in their team,” said FSU head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf. “They had to play a lot of games yesterday (to get to the final) and they came out today and didn’t bend an inch. They came after us with all they had. This was a great championship and really representative of the type of softball we play in the ACC.”
Despite seeing her 63.1 inning streak without allowing an earned run come to an end, junior Casey Hunter (32-3) was dominant in the circle for the Seminoles. The right-hander held Tech without a hit through five full innings and ended up allowing just three hits, issuing just one walk and striking out 10 Yellow jacket batters. The win was Hunter’s second of the tournament and she picked up the ACC Tournament MVP award, the 10th Seminole to win the award in ACC history.
“I don’t think I pitched a perfect game but I was hitting the corners with my fastball really well and my curveball was working as well,” said Hunter. “It was just great to hold a team as good as Georgia Tech to one run.”
The Tribe’s three seniors, who were all named to the All-ACC Tournament team, once again led the FSU at the plate and in the field. Jessica van der Linden went 2-for-3 with a run scored and a walk while Elisa Vasquez went 2-for-4 increasing her average to .615 in four games versus the Jackets in 2004. Wade also had a hit and scored a run but it was her defensive gem in the seventh that was the play of the game. Georgia Tech put its first runner on base via an FSU error and looked like they were going to mount a comeback but a hard hit line out to Wade turned into an FSU double play when Amy Hosier got caught off the bag and Wade turned the unassisted double play.
“That play was great. I loved Beth right there,” said Hunter. “I was very excited about that DP. It is hard to describe how I was feeling after that.”
“That was a huge play for us. It kind of erased their momentum,” said Graf. “I think they thought they were going to start a rally and that play shut it down really quick and got us two outs.”
The win was the seventh straight for FSU over Georgia Tech and FSU has now recorded 15 wins over ranked teams with its two wins over No. 24 Tech this weekend. After finishing the regular season 2-4, the Tribe’s sweep through the conference tournament has raised the confidence level in Tallahassee.
“This was a really good weekend for us after a tough week last week. I think the road trip through Michigan was kind of a wake-up call for us,” said Wade. “We came out every game this weekend and were together. We had a lot of confidence and wanted to go out and dominate. Hopefully that will continue.”
Jessica Sallinger (29-8) took the loss and made it through just five innings as she put herself in some hot water in the top of the first as she walked a batter and gave up a two out single to van der Linden bringing up Vasquez who has hit .667 with two runs, a double, a home run, three RBIs and posted a 1.111 slugging percentage in three games versus the Jackets in 2004. The senior laced a Sallinger shot into center field that was slicing towards the gap for a sure double but Soraya Reddick made a spectacular catch on the drive ending the FSU threat.
After recording her first K of the game to start the second, Sallinger issued her third walk of the day this one to Beth Wade. Kim Hoffer then sacrificed Wade to second. LaShaun Davis then picked a perfect time for the first triple of her career. The freshman laced a shot into the gap in right driving in Wade. Wootson, the 2004 ACC Freshman of the Year, followed with a bunt single scoring FSU’s second run of the game.
In the top of the fifth, FSU staged a two-out rally against Sallinger. van der Linden walked brining up Palmer who is playing on a torn ACL. The 2003 ACC Championship MVP homered versus North Carolina Saturday and almost went yard again Sunday. The senior laced her 12th double of the season off the wall in left center scoring van der Linden from first and putting FSU up 3-0.
After falling down by three runs, Tech brought in Erin Voeltz and FSU immediately went to work. Tatiana George drew a lead-off walk and Wade had another hit. After a sac moved the runners to second and third, Voeltz got Davis to pop out to for the second out of the frame and then a foul out ended the Tribe threat.
The Yellow Jackets recorded their first hit of the game to open the bottom of the sixth on a double by Lauren Schlechte. Hunter came back to get the next two hitters before All-American Tara Knudsen broke up the shutout with a single to center field making the score 3-1. A soft shot to third put another runner on base as Tech brought the potential lead run to the plate but Hunter got Liz Bartle looking at strike three for her 10th K of the game and ending the Georgia Tech uprising.
“I wasn’t really nervous in the sixth,” said Graf. “I knew they had great hitters but Casey had really down a great job with our defense shutting them down. I think we had them guessing at the plate a little bit. I have a lot of confidence in these kids and I knew we would find a way to win.”
In the top of the seventh, FSU looked to add some insurance as the Seminoles tried to stage another two-out rally. van der Linden recorded her second hit of the game and Vasquez followed with another hit versus the Jackets. With runners on first and second, a sac bunt moved everybody up a base but FSU was unable to capitalize setting the stage for Wade’s heroics in the bottom of the seventh.
Tech opened the inning reaching on an error and sending the tying run to the plate but Wade turned the double play and Hunter went on to secure the win.
Florida State is next in action at the 2004 NCAA Tournament Tallahassee Regional. The Seminoles will find out their seeding and which seven teams will be coming to Tallahassee for the NCAA Tournament, which runs from May 20-23. For more information on the 2004 FSU softball team or the 2004 NCAA Tallahassee Regional, including tickets, please log on to the official athletic website of Florida State University at www.seminoles.com.
2004 All-Tournament Team
Monica Cyphert, Maryland
Tara Knudsen, Georgia Tech
Keri Lounge, Maryland
Lesley Palmer, Florida State
Crystal Rizzuto, Maryland
Jessica Sallinger, Georgia Tech
Natashalyn Snipes, North Carolina
Jessica van der Linden, Florida State
Elisa Vasquez, Florida State
Beth Wade, Florida State
Sara Wissmann, Georgia Tech
MVP: Casey Hunter, Florida State