Feb. 22, 2012
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – A walk-off grand slam by Briana Hamilton in the ninth inning gave the Florida State University softball team an exciting 6-2 victory over UCF on Wednesday evening at JoAnne Graf Field.
Hamilton stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning after UCF starter Mackenzie Audas (2-4) intentionally walked freshman Erika Leonard to set up a force out at home plate. Following a first-pitch strike, Hamilton jumped on Audas’ second offering and launched a towering grand slam to give the Seminoles (10-0) their second walk-off victory of the season.
Hamilton, who hails from Woodruff, S.C., now has four home runs and 11 RBIs this season. Two of those round-trippers have been grand slams, with her first four-bagger of the year coming last weekend against Western Carolina. Her four RBIs also tie her career high set in that same game against WCU.
Hamilton, who finished 1-for-4, was not alone in guiding FSU’s one-run comeback. The top of the lineup performed well and produced key at-bats, as Shayla Jackson finished 2-for-5 while Tiffani Brown also recorded two hits and plated the tying run in the ninth inning.
After UCF took a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth on a fielding error, FSU responded quickly in the bottom half. Morgan Bullock led off by advancing to first base on a throwing error by UCF second baseman Danielle Brewer, then advanced to second base. After Bullock reached third base on a wild pitch, Brown hit a run-scoring single down the left field line on a 2-2 pitch to tie the game.
“UCF came in here having played a ton of Top 25 teams,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “We knew their pitcher was strong and knew we had to bear down and figure out how to get some big hits off her. It was good to see some character building tonight.”
From there, shortstop Maddie O’Brien walked before Leonard was intentionally walked by the Knights (4-6).
Jackson was partially responsible for FSU partaking in its second extra-inning game of the season. She led off the seventh with a double down the left field line, then scored on Leonard’s line-drive single to right center to knot the game at 1-1. Leonard attempted to advance to second base on the play but was thrown out by centerfielder Vanessa Perez.
Jackson also laced a triple to right center in the fifth inning with two outs, but was unable to score. It was Jackson’s 11th career triple, leaving her four shy of cracking the Top 10 career list at FSU.
Wednesday’s victory marked FSU’s second walk-off win of the season, already surpassing its total from last season. The Seminoles came away with a big win despite leaving 12 runners on base, their second most of the season.
FSU’s 10-0 record is now tied for the sixth-best start in school history, matching the 1988 team’s start.
Earning the victory for FSU was reliever Lacey Waldrop (5-0), who tossed four innings and allowed one unearned run. The Colonial Heights, Va., native pitched effectively in relief, as UCF’s lone run off the freshman was the result of a fielding error at first base. The run, however, ended Waldrop’s scoreless innings streak at 25 frames.
Starter Monica Perry took a no decision but was also very effective in the circle. Perry allowed one run on five hits in five innings pitched. She struck out a season-high nine batters, overpowering UCF with a barrage of fastballs. The Whitesburg, Ga., native fanned five of her first six batters faced and pitched well enough to keep FSU and its slow-starting offense in the game.
Together, Waldrop and Perry combined to strike out 13, the most by an FSU opponent this season.
FSU’s victory over UCF creates an 11-5 lead in the all-time series.
The Seminoles get a break from JoAnne Graf Field as they head to the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., for the Citrus Classic. FSU starts off by playing St. John’s on Friday at 12:15 p.m., followed by a 2:30 p.m. first pitch versus Wisconsin.
FSU does not play at home again until its conference opening series versus N.C. State on March 10-11.