Feb. 11, 2006
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
When the Florida State University softball team decides to score runs, it does it in bunches. The Seminoles scored ten runs in the third and fourth innings to break open a close game as they defeated Nicholls State 11-3, in five innings, to wrap up the 2006 Early Bird Tournament.
Inclement weather forced the cancellation of the final two games of the tournament.
Florida State wins its second game in a row to up its mark to 2-1 on the young season. After winning its first game, the Colonels drop to 1-2. Sophomore Tiffany McDonald (Belfair, Wash.) came on in relief to throw the final three innings to get her first win of the season and improve to 1-1. NSU’s Alexandra Austin gave up seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings to take the loss.
The nation’s longest hitting streak continued as Natasha Jacob’s (Coppell, Texas) streak reached 27 games. For the third-straight game she collected a bunt single in the third inning. The All-America candidate is now tied for with Jen Feldmeier (Southern Illinois), Barb Marean (Massachusetts) and Chris Stuppi (Princeton) for the 11th-longest streak in NCAA history.
Deemed the visiting team after Nicholls State won the coin toss, the Seminoles picked up their first run in the top of the second inning. With one out, right fielder LaShaun Davis (Marietta, Ga.) hit a single into shallow right field. Senior Carly Brieske (Safety Harbor, Fla.) picked up her third hit in as many games as her double down the left field line scored Davis from first.
“I thought we were more focused and we came out pretty aggressive offensively,” said FSU head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf who is six wins short of becoming the second Division I coach to reach 1,100 fastpitch wins. “I told them before the game that I wanted them to look for better pitches and swing at more strikes.”
Jacob’s single was the start of an offensive outburst as the Seminoles struck for six runs in the third inning. Designated player Whitney Buckmon (Stone Mountain, Ga.) and second baseman Veronica Wootson (Fontana, Calif.) each followed Jacob with infield singles to load the bases. Shortstop Yuruby Alicart (Maracay, Venezuela) grounded into a fielder’s choice, but Jacob scored on the play.
Davis followed with her second hit of the day, a line drive down the right field line, to score Wootson from second and move Alicart to third. After Davis stole second, Brieske’s second single of the day plated Alicart. The next batter, freshman third baseman Michelle Snyder (Wenatchee, Wash.), belted the first home run of her career to make it a 7-0 FSU advantage.
“We got a lot of runners on early and we were able to be aggressive on the bases and that put them into some situations defensively they were ready for,” Graf noted. “I’m excited with the way our offense is starting to come around.”
Nicholls State put its first runs on the board in the bottom of the third inning. Kodi Butler and Leah Peterson started the frame with back-to-back hits to put runners on second and third. McDonald came on in relief for freshman Melissa May (San Diego, Calif) and got the first two batters out, but couldn’t get the final out before Amy Thibodeaux hit a grounder up the middle to plate both runs.
McDonald surrendered just one earned run, struck out one and gave up three walks. In her two plus innings of work, May struck out three batters and walked just one while giving up two earned runs on four hits.
Four more runs came the Seminoles way in the fourth inning thanks to some aggressive base running. Davis reached base for the third time in the game with a walk then stole second to put runners on second and third. Brieske grounded into a fielder’s choice but got caught in a run down long enough for Davis to score her third run of the game while Brieske moved up to third on a throwing error.
Snyder picked up her fourth RBI of the day with a single up the middle to score Brieske. Kim Hoffer (Houston, Texas) roped a triple to center field to score Snyder then crossed the plate herself on an RBI double by Melissa Wood (Lilburn, Ga.) to make it 11-2. NSU added a run in the fourth, but couldn’t come up with another to extend the game as it ended with the eight-run rule.
“The older players have to be the leaders out there,” Graf added. “When they set the tone it lets the younger players relax and then they can play their game and not fell like the games is resting on their shoulders.”
All 11 hitters that got into the game for Florida State reached base at least once with nine of the 11 collecting at least one hit. Davis led the way with a team-best three hits while Brieske, Snyder and Hoffer had two each. Those four, plus Jacob, were the Seminole representatives on the All-Tournament Team.
Davis set a career-high with three runs scored, while Brieske and Snyder each crossed the plate twice. Snyder was tops on the team with four RBIs, including three on the home run. The senior captain Brieske also drove in a pair of runs.
Florida State will be back in action on Tuesday (Feb. 14) as it takes on Georgia Southern at JoAnne Graf Field in a Valentine’s Day doubleheader starting at 4 p.m.