March 13, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The No. 16 Florida State softball team kicked off its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule by splitting two games with No. 18 North Carolina Saturday at the Seminole Softball Complex.
FSU (22-3, 1-1 ACC) dropped the first of two games on the day as the Tar Heels (17-5, 1-1) rode the hot pitching of starter Danielle Spaulding and then exploded in the top of the eighth for a 5-0 win.
In the second game, junior Jen Lapicki made sure the Seminoles wouldn’t fall to 0-2 in conference play as she smacked the game-winning double in the bottom of the seventh to give the ‘Noles a 2-1 triumph.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight coming in,” FSU head coach Lonni Alameda sad. “This was going to be an opportunity to see where we are at against a ranked team with a great pitcher in Danielle Spaulding. She definitely dished us a great ballgame but we came back in the second game and made adjustments and got after it.
“That was great to see.”
Senior Terese Gober earned her 11th win by tossing seven innings with no runs, six strikeouts and just one walk. The McDonough, Ga. native allowed just three hits.
As for junior Sarah Hamilton, she lost a game for just the second time all season to start the day. Hamilton pitched 7 and 2/3 innings, giving up a season-high 10 hits while striking out eight Carolina batters. She also walked five.
In the second game of the double header, FSU was able to load the bases in the second after UNC jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately for the ‘Noles, the three runners on would be left stranded.
In the fifth, the Seminoles once again jammed the bags with three runners.
This time, there were no outs as Shayla Jackson stepped to the plate. FSU’s starting right fielder reached on a fielder’s choice and Ashley Stager was thrown out at home on a very close call. A batter later, there was no question as Tiffani Brown was forced out at the plate and Lapicki reached base.
With two outs, the ‘Noles couldn’t push any runs across and the score remained 1-0 in favor of the visitors.
The bottom of the seventh proved to be the half inning that mattered, though.
Brown got on base first and then Carly Wynn outran a sacrifice bunt to reach first. After Jackson’s perfect sacrifice bunt moved Brown and Wynn to third and second, respectively, Lapicki launched what would be the game-winning hit to the outfield that sent both home.
“It definitely was an exciting feel, especially after starting the day off with a loss,” Lapicki said about her first game-winner as a Seminole after transferring from Tennessee. “We just kept fighting and we are a team that battles from start to finish and we just work to always have each other’s backs.
“It was definitely one of the best feelings I have had out here.”
Lapicki’s two RBIs paced the Seminoles offensively while seven of the nine FSU batters all registered a hit.
In the 5-0 defeat earlier in the day, Wynn led the way by going 3-for-4. Jackson and Tory Haddad registered the other two hits for an FSU team that struggled against North Carolina pitcher Danielle Spaulding.
In that game, UNC put a runner in scoring position for the first time all day in the top of the fifth. With two outs and Tar Heels at third and second, Hamilton was able to prevent any damage as she forced a Kristie McConn-Haddad ground out.
The Tar Heels did the same in the seventh as they put two runners on with two outs. But once again, Hamilton escaped unscathed as she forced a pop-out to Haddad.
The top of the eighth was a different story.
After Hamilton hit a batter, the first runs of the ballgame came across the plate when Brittany McKinney crushed her first home run of the year. The long ball made it a 2-0 game before Spaulding brought in a few more with a two-RBI single.
Another Tar Heel run pushed their lead to 5-0 before Lauren Varsalona replaced Hamilton in the circle.
FSU matches up with UNC one more time on Sunday. The two will tussle at noon on JoAnne Graf Field.
“We are going to get to see Danielle (Spaulding) again tomorrow,” Alameda said. “We have to rise to the occasion and make some adjustments against her.”