March 3, 2006
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Throughout the season there are moments where you look back and there is one game that had a big impact on the rest of the year. For the Florida State University softball team, that game may have been Friday’s (March 3) second game of the Sunshine State Tournament. For the first time this year, the Seminoles rallied late in the contest to beat Western Michigan 2-1.
Florida State reached double digit wins as its record jumped to 10-7 while the Broncos dropped to 6-4. Starting pitcher Melissa May (San Diego, Calif.) stopped a personal three-game losing streak as she evened ledger to 3-3. Sophomore Tiffany McDonald (Belfair, Wash.) pitched the last 1.2 innings in relief to get her second save of the year. Despite giving up just four hits, WMU starter Krysten Schumaker suffered her first lost of the season as she fell to 4-1.
“We showed some fight tonight and the biggest thing is that we’re learning how to play in some close games and that’s going to pay off for us later,” FSU head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf said. “The kids are showing composure in the close games, that’s what I like to see; I like to see that they’re confident in themselves.”
It wasn’t until the sixth inning that the Seminoles got on the board. With one out, left fielder Natasha Jacob (Coppell, Texas) got on with a walk then stole second base. One out later second baseman Veronica Wootson (Fontana, Calif.) dropped a hit just over second base to score Jacob. Center fielder Carly Brieske (Safety Harbor, Fla.) broke a 0-for-8 streak with a doubled down the left field line to plate Wootson with the winning run.
“They have to lead,” Graf said of captains Jacob and Brieske. “You have to lead by example, but also have to lead by performance. I think that really came through for us tonight.”
With the offense not getting started until the sixth inning, Florida State had to rely on strong pitching and defense. In six of the seven innings, Western Michigan had a runner on base with one out or less but the Seminoles held strong, stranding 11 Bronco runners. Sophomore first baseman Brittany Osmon (San Diego, Calif.) prevented the tying run from scoring when she scooped a throw out of the dirt at first base as a runner advanced from second to third.
Western Michigan had the tying run on third with one out in the sixth when McDonald came into the game. She got Becky Bartosz, who drove in WMU’s only run, and pinch hitter Albani Shepherd to strikeout to end the inning. Designated the home team by virtue of a coin flip, the Broncos put together a two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh but McDonald got Tricia VanDerSlik to strikeout to end the game.
“Tonight we played all seven innings,” Graf added. “We played a great game, again, against Michigan except for one inning. You take that one inning out and we win the ball game, but you have to play all seven. We did not do that and Michigan did and that’s why they ended up on top.”
Florida State will be back in action on Saturday (March 4) in the Sunshine State Tournament, taking on Maryland in a non-conference game at 1:30 p.m. A victory by the Seminoles would put them in the 4 p.m. championship game against seventh-ranked Michigan.