Feb. 27, 2004
Columbus, GA – With half of the nation’s top 25 teams in attendance and the 2004 USA Olympic softball team milling around the South Commons, the 10th-ranked FSU softball team opened NFCA Leadoff Classic play in impressive fashion. The Seminole softball team recorded its most lopsided victory of the season as they used three home runs in a 10-0 win over Army (0-2). Pitcher Jessica van der Linden improved to 7-1 on the season as she fired her second one-hitter of the season. Tatiana George had a career day at the plate as the shortstop drove in a career high five RBIs and hit the first grand slam of her career as FSU moved to 13-1 on the season.
The Seminoles needed the lopsided victory to keep their hopes alive of advancing into gold bracket play Saturday. Despite being 1-0 in the prestigious tournament, fellow bracket mate Washington has already gone 2-0 beating Texas 6-2 and Army 8-0. The Seminoles need to keep pace with the Huskies if they want to move into the championship bracket.
The Tribe got off to a fast start in the top of the first as Army starter Chris Stauffer (0-1) walked the first two batters she faced. All-American van der Linden then singled home her team-leading 11th RBI of the year putting FSU up 1-0. After a double steal moved the runners up to second and third, Elisa Vasquez drew another walk to load the bases with just one out. That brought up George who returned from a recent injury in grand fashion. The junior smashed a home run down the left field line clearing the bases and extending the FSU lead to 5-0. The homer was George’s second of the season and sixth of her career. It was also her first ever grand slam. After Stauffer recorded the second out of the inning, the Tribe was back at it with the long ball as Beth Wade jacked her second of the year for a 6-0 lead. The six runs in the first inning were more than half the runs FSU had recorded all season in the first frame.
After van der Linden retired the side in order and all via a strikeout, the Seminoles went back on the offensive in the bottom of the second. Jacob and van der Linden both got on base again as each singled to put two on with nobody out. Florida State’s third straight single loaded the bases. With George coming up again in another bases loaded situation, Army went to the pen and brought in Julie Evans. Evans threw four straight balls as George drove in her fifth run of the day and put the Seminoles up 8-0. The hurler came back strong though and got out two outs and then was within one strike of escaping the bases loaded jam but LaShaun Davis came through in the clutch. The freshman beat out a throw at first that drove in another FSU run putting the Tribe in front 9-0.
Florida State added its third homerun of the game in the top of the third and it came from a fairly unlikely source. Natasha Jacob hit her first ever round tripper as she drove a ball off the fence in center and rounded the bases before Army could the speedy outfielder. The inside the park homer was the first of the year for FSU.
Florida State returns to action immediately after the Army game when they face 2003 World Series semifinalist Texas. The 15th-ranked Longhorns opened NFCA play with a loss to No. 4 Washington earlier in the day. For more information on the 2004 Seminole softball team, please log on to the official athletic website for FSU at www.seminoles.com.