April 5, 2006
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Maybe all the magic in Gainesville was used up Monday night. After No. 24 Florida took a 5-3 lead in the fourth, the Florida State softball team stormed back with two in the sixth and one in the eighth to beat the Gators 6-5 and sweep Wednesday’s (April 5) doubleheader.
With the sweep, Florida State improved to 29-18. Florida dropped its sixth game in eight tries versus the Seminoles as they fell to 31-14.
Sophomore pitcher Tiffany McDonald (Belfair, Wash.) set the tone in extra innings, retiring all three UF batters she faced in the eighth, including a pair of strikeouts. Designated player Whitney Buckmon (Stone Mountain, Ga.) got the offense going in the bottom of the frame with a single and was nearly picked off at first when she took a wide turn around the base. Three pitches later, shortstop Yuruby Alicart (Maracay, Venezuela) roped a double down the left field line that scored Buckmon from first with the winning run.
Even though she only threw the final four innings, McDonald got her second victory of the day to improve to 19-10. McDonald gave up just two runs, one earned, on two hits with six strikeouts and no walks. Freshman starter Kayla Collins (Niceville, Fla.) went four innings, but got a no decision. She gave up three runs, two earned, on five hits with three strikeouts and two walks. UF starter Stacey Nelson took the loss, dropping her to 10-6.
“The kids really stepped up when they got behind and they came back and answered,” FSU head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf said. “We’re beginning to get that confidence that we can come back and score runs when we need it. This going to give us a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season and into the ACC Tournament.
“This really helps us because it gives us two wins against a ranked opponent, and probably someone who will get a bid to the tournament. All those things will start to add up.”
After Florida got its first run of the afternoon in the top of the second, the Seminoles answered with one of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Second baseman Veronica Wootson (Fontana, Calif.) led off the frame with her second home run of the day to tie the game at one. It was the second time this year Wootson had hit two home runs in the same day as she cranked a pair in the first game at Jacksonville on February 22. The dinger also tied her with FSU All-American Shamalene Wilson for fifth in school history at 15 career home runs.
Wootson started a two-out rally in the fourth that gave Florida State a 3-1 lead. The junior drew a walk and went to third on a single through the right side by first baseman Brittany Osmon (San Diego, Calif.) As Wootson slide into third base, the throw from the Florida right fielder went wide of the base, allowing Wootson to score and advancing Osmon to get to second. A single up the middle by catcher Melissa Wood (Lilburn, Ga.) scored Osmon to make it a two-run lead.
Unfortunately, the Gators stormed right back in the top of the fifth, scoring four runs to take a 5-3 lead. The first two were charged to Collins with final two going to McDonald. The Seminoles scored two in their half of the sixth to tie the game at five.
Buckmon and Alicart hit back-to-back singles to open the inning. Wootson’s second hit of the game took a wicked hop back into fair territory and over third base to score Buckmon. On the play, Alicart advanced to third and Wootson took second. A failed squeeze bunt attempt got Alicart picked off, but Wootson went to third. A sacrifice fly by Osmon plated Wootson with the tying run.
Florida State totaled 22 hits for the doubleheader, including 12 in the nightcap. Seven of the nine hitters in the line-up had a hit with Buckmon leading the way at a career-best three while Alicart, Wootson and right fielder LaShaun Davis (Marietta, Ga.) added two each.
Florida State gets back into Atlantic Coast Conference action this weekend when it travels to Virginia for a weekend series, starting with a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday.