April 1, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The No. 8 Florida State Seminoles (34-4), who have won 13 games in a row, including a three-game sweep at North Carolina on March 30-31, hit the road to open the season series with No. 6/7 Florida (31-7) at 6:00 p.m. on April 2. The game will be held at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium and will air on ESPN3.
“Playing Florida is always special for all of our sports at FSU,” said head coach Lonni Alameda. “But we just see it as another opportunity to go out and compete with our family and play Florida State softball. Every team we face is dangerous and there is no game that is any bigger or smaller than the other, and we will take this one pitch-by-pitch and execute our game plan and try to come out with the win.”
Florida leads the all-time series with the Seminoles, 18-13. UF has won the last 11 games in the rivalry dating back to 2006. Florida State last beat the Gators in Gainesville in 2003.
The Seminoles are playing excellent softball as of late and have swept each of their last three ACC opponents. They have moved up to No. 8 in both polls for the first time this season and it is the highest that Florida State has been ranked since the final NFCA poll of the 2004 season.
The Florida Gators are on a slide, having lost four of their last five games and dropping to No. 6 in the NFCA poll and No. 7 in the ESPN.com poll. The NCAA RPI has the `Noles (No. 4) ranked higher the Gators (No. 6) leading into the annual matchup of the rivals.
Lacey Waldrop remains as the foundation for Florida State in the circle with her NCAA-leading 22 wins and an ERA of 0.53 which is the second-lowest in the country. Waldrop was named ACC Pitcher of the Week for the sixth time this season on March 31 and was the winning pitcher in all three games of FSU’s recent sweep over UNC, tossing 17.1 innings and allowing only eight hits, two runs (one earned), five walks and recording 15 strikeouts.
Offensively, the Seminoles have been successful with the long ball, hitting seven total home runs over the weekend at Chapel Hill, N.C. Junior Maddie O’Brien continues to lead the team and the ACC in several statistical categories and is in the top-10 of the NCAA in RBI (58 – 1st), home runs (13 – 4th) and slugging percentage (.893 – 7th).
Courtney Senas would be leading the conference in a number of categories if not for the play of O’Brien and is currently batting .384 (43-for-112) with 10 doubles, four triples, eight home runs, 38 RBI and an ACC-leading 28 walks. The senior also impacts the game with her glove and speed out in centerfield, having made two outfield assists and numerous plays that have robbed extra-base hits and kept players from tagging.
Florida is led at the plate by Kelsey Stewart who has a .412 average and leads the team with 54 hits, 37 RBI and a .626 slugging percentage. A trio of Gators take to the circle for UF, highlighted by Hannah Rogers with a 14-5 record and a 1.98 ERA.
Lauren Haeger and Delanie Gourley are also ace pitchers who have shared the load along with reliever Alyssa Bache to give Florida pitching staff a 2.22 ERA on the season with 233 strikeouts while allowing an opponent batting average of .202
Wednesday’s game is the first of the two-game home-and-home series between the Seminoles and the Gators. Next week, on April 9, Florida comes to Tallahassee to take on Florida State in a game scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. first pitch.
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