May 20, 2006
ATHENS, Ga. –
At the beginning of the season, Florida State softball coach Dr. JoAnne Graf knew her young team was going to be a much different squad by the end of the season. The Seminoles are proving her right so far as they are now one victory away from the NCAA Tournament Super Regional after beating eighth-ranked Georgia 3-2 on Saturday (May 20).
With the victory, Florida State improved to 43-27 overall. Georgia dropped to 52-14. The Seminoles next play at 12 p.m. on Sunday in the regional championship, taking on the winner of the Georgia-Georgia Southern elimination game. Undefeated so far in the regional, FSU only has to win one of two possible games Saturday to advance.
“It was really important that we got up on them early because it put pressure on them,” Graf said. “If we let them get up a couple of runs they’re going to be free swingers. We escaped a couple of innings with some great defense in crucial times. You can’t let a great hitting team get extra at-bats. Our defense kept them off the bases and won the game for us.”
Notching her 30th victory was FSU starter Tiffany McDonald (Belfair, Wash.) as she improved to 30-17. The right-hander threw her-ACC best 37 complete game and only gave up two runs on seventh hits with five strikeouts and four walks. Taking the loss for the Bulldogs was Kasi Carroll as she dropped to 28-6.
Florida State got on the board first thanks to a trio of Georgia miscues. Second baseman Veronica Wootson (Fontana, Calif.) reached base on an error by shortstop Allison Horne. First baseman Brittany Osmon (San Diego, Calif.) poked a hit up the middle then center fielder Carly Brieske (Safety Harbor, Fla.) laid down a sacrifice bunt to put two runners in scoring position.
The first run came across when catcher Melissa Wood (Lilburn, Ga.) dropped down a squeeze bunt to score Wootson. One out later, right fielder LaShan Davis (Marietta, Ga.) hit a chopper to the left side, but Horne and UGA third baseman Megan McAllister collided, allowing Osmon to score. Left fielder Natasha Jacob (Coppell, Texas) hit a grounder to McAllister but her throw sailed wide of first base permitting pinch runner Robyn Petrovich (Plantation, Fla.) to score from third.
The Bulldogs broke through for the first run of the day off McDonald in the bottom of the fourth. Chelsea Cantillo came around to score on a double by Jessica Doucette. Canitllo’s high chopper in the fifth inning allowed Kellie Middleton to score and make it 3-2.
In the sixth and seventh inning, McDonald and the Florida State stepped up their play and closed out the Bulldogs. With two outs in the sixth, McDonald loaded the base by giving up a single and two walks, but got Charvi Greer to strikeout looking to end the threat. Then in the seventh, Wootson made a tremendous diving catch in foul territory and McDonald struckout Doucette with the tying run on second. Georgia stranded 11 runners on base.
“The defense was phenomenal today,” McDonald said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better defense today, that might be the best we’ve played. I wasn’t at my best today, but the defense came through for me. It’s a good feeling knowing you’ve got a great defense and offense behind you.”
Nearly all seven of FSU’s hits came from a trio of players as Jacob, Osmon and Davis each collected a pair. Wood was the only player credited with an RBI as the other two runs scored on errors. Jacob moved past Shamalene Wilson (1996) for third on the FSU single-season charts with her 92nd hit. Also moving up the single-season lists was McDonald. By throwing seven innings, she took over third place with 313.2 innings pitched and her 30th win ties Renee Espinoza for sixth.