May 19, 2006
ATHENS, Ga. –
Besides the championship game, no contest is more important to win in the postseason than the first one. The Florida State University softball team made sure it got into the winner’s bracket at the Athens regional of the NCAA Tournament by jumping out to an early lead and not looking back as the Seminoles beat Coastal Carolina 7-2 on Friday (May 19).
The win improved Florida State’s record to 42-27 on the year, while the Lady Chanticleers dropped to 38-21. The Seminoles will play the winner of the Georgia-Georgia Southern contest at 12 p.m. on Saturday.
“We wanted to take control early and jump out in the lead,” FSU head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf said. “Any time you let a team hang around, especially when you’re the higher seed, it puts a little bit more pressure on you.”
Getting the victory in relief was sophomore Tiffany McDonald (Belfair, Wash.) as she improved to 29-17. The right-hander came on in the second inning to get the Seminoles out of a bases loaded jam. McDonald gave up two runs on four hits with four strikeouts and three walks. Coastal Carolina’s Christine Doyle was saddled with the loss as she dropped to 20-8.
“I wasn’t as sharp as I could have been,” McDonald admitted. “In a regional you can’t come out flat, but the offense did a great job today to pick me up. I’ve got to come out even harder tomorrow. You never want to let up but when you have a big lead there’s more room for error and sometimes you’re not at your best.”
Florida State wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as it put up a four-spot in the bottom of the first inning. With one out, designated player Whitney Buckmon (Stone Mountain, Ga.) picked up an infield single before shortstop Yuruby Alicart (Maracay, Venezuela) hit a sharp ball back at Doyle, then second baseman Veronica Wootson (Fontana, Calif.) singled to right field to load the bases.
Pushing the first two runs across the board was first baseman Brittany Osmon (San Diego, Calif.) as she singled up the middle to plate Buckmon and Alicart. With two outs, the throw to first on catcher Melissa Wood’s (Lilburn. Ga.) ground ball was in the dirt, allowing Wootson and Osmon to score.
The Seminoles used their speed in the bottom of the second inning to produce two more runs. With two outs, left field Natasha Jacob (Coppell, Texas) picked up a lead off single then stole second base. Buckmon’s second hit in as many innings allowed Jacob to score. Alicart, who reached on a fielder’s choice, moved up to second on Wootson’s second hit then came around to score when Osmon’s grounder was misplayed.
“It’s a fast infield and couple of our slappers were able to get some high chops to get on base,” Graf added. “We’ve got a hard infield at home so we’re somewhat use to playing on this surface so we were able to take advantage of that and want to continue to do that tomorrow.”
Coastal Carolina got on the board in the fourth inning when McDonald issued three-straight one-out walks to load the bases. Alicart couldn’t get Danyelle Gerdts’ grounder out of her glove fast enough as the first runner came home. The Lady Chanticleers added a run in the seventh on a solo home run by Kelly Feely.
Florida State got a run back in the fourth when Buckmon picked up a bunt single, then stole second and third. Wootson brought her home with her third hit of the day, a double into the left field gap.
Four of the top five hitters in the FSU’s line-up picked up two or more hits as the Seminoles pounded out 13 on the day with seven of the nine players collecting a hit. Leading the charge was Wootson and Buckmon as they had three a piece, while Jacob and Osmon added a pair. Buckmon and Alicart were tops with two trips across the plate and Osmon drove in a team-best two runs.
The Seminoles have not played Georgia, seeded first in the regional and 11th nationally, since 2003 when they dropped a 5-4 decision in eight innings. FSU took a pair of games from Georgia Southern on February 14.