May 20, 2004
Tallahassee, FL – On a night where All-American Jessica van der Linden became just the second FSU player ever to record 50 RBIs and Veronica Wootson scorched Long Island (27-27) with three hits and three runs scored, it was junior hurler Casey Hunter (33-3) that stole the show. The junior baffled the Blackbirds all afternoon as she pitched her fourth no-hitter of the year and the fifth no-no of her career. She led No. 4 FSU (58-9) to a 4-0 win over LIU in NCAA Region Four play as she fanned six hitters while issuing just two walks. Hunter faced just one batter over the minimum and no LIU batter made it past first.
“I think it is great we as a team started the tournament off the right way,” said Hunter. “It wasn’t my best day but I was able to hit the corners enough to get the job done. None of my pitches were consistent throughout the game.”
“Hunter pitched a very nice game and obviously we didn’t hit too many balls hard,” said Long Island head coach Roy Kortmann. “I thought Jackie Brown did a pretty good job. She kept the ball in pretty good spots I think Florida State hit three or four balls relatively hard other than that most of their shots found little alleys or holes. My hat’s off to Hunter.”
Florida State’s All-American van der Linden went 1-for-2 with two RBIs including her 19th game-winning RBI of the year as she continued to plate runs at a record pace. Wootson provided the spark for the FSU offense all day long as she went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a triple. Elisa Vasquez drove in a run as did Tatiana George who went 2-for-3 on the day. The win was a big one for the Tribe after dropping its first game of 2003 regional play on its way to a 0-2 showing.
“The first game of any tournament is the one you worry about the most,” said Florida State head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf. “We were favored and I didn’t want our kids to be lackadaisical and they did a great job really paying attention to the game. Long Island has a great ball club and they are very aggressive. They don’t give up.
“Obviously Casey throwing a no-hitter definitely helped. Veronica was the sparkplug of the day getting the first two runs. That kind of set the stage for us to get a head and we relaxed a little bit.”
The Seminoles took an early lead in the first off LIU starter Jackie Brown (10-8). All-region freshman Wootson led the game off with an infield single and then swiped second. Natasha Jacob’s fly ball moved her to third and Wootson came home on van der Linden’s 50th RBI of the year. She is only the second Seminole ever to record 50 or more RBIs. Lesley Palmer followed with another infield single and pinch runner Carly Brieske moved to second on a walk to Elisa Vasquez. Tatiana George then singled to short but Brieske was thrown out at home trying to score on the play to end the inning.
“Veronica is a very instinctive base runner and with her speed you want to be aggressive,” said Graf. “Anytime you score the first run with our pitching staff and our defense it gets you up a little bit. Veronica has been our sparkplug and our leadoff all season long. She has done a great job and she did that again today. She is the one player that ignites us and gets us going.”
The top of the Tribe line-up went back to work in the third as Wootson and Jacob both reached on infield singles. van der Linden then drove in her second RBI of the day with a single up the middle but Jacob was thrown out at third on the play. After a line out to left, Elisa Vasquez reached on an error putting runners on the corners but Brown got out of the inning on a foul out.
Wootson led off the fifth with her third hit of the game and her seventh triple of the season. Jacob followed with a bunt single, which she advanced to second on when nobody was covering the bag. After an intentional walk loaded the bases, Brown got the first out when she struck out Carly Brieske. Vasquez got the job done though as her deep fly to center plated the Seminoles’ third run of the contest. Tatiana George scored another run off Brown when her single to left field scored the Tribe’s fourth run of the game.
Florida State is next in action at the 2004 NCAA Tournament Tallahassee Regional versus Cal State Northridge Friday. The Seminoles and Matadors (34-17) will meet at 3:00 p.m. in a winner’s bracket game. FSU has never beaten CSUN in three previous meetings. For more information on the 2004 FSU softball team or the 2004 NCAA Tallahassee Regional, including tickets, please log on to the official athletic website of Florida State University at www.seminoles.com.
2004 NCAA DIVISION I SOFTBALL REGIONAL NO. 4 AT TALLAHASSEE
GAME FOUR: Florida State 4, Long Island 0
Florida State Head Coach Dr. JoAnne Graf
“Basically, the first game of any tournament is always the one you worry about the most. We were favored, they were not and I didn’t want our team to take them lackadaisically. I think they did a great job coming out and really paying attention to the game. Long Island has a great ball club. They’re very aggressive and they don’t give up. Obviously Casey (Hunter) throwing a no-hitter definitely helps and makes life a lot easier.”
“Veronica (Wootson) was a spark plug, getting us the first two runs. I think that set the stage. We got ahead early and it allowed us to relax. Veronica’s been our spark plug and our leadoff hitter all year and she has done a great job at that and she did that again today. Getting us up two runs kind of relaxed everybody a little bit. Anytime you got a player who ignites you, it gets you going and she did that today.”
“Veronica is a very instinctive base runner and with her speed, being aggressive and making those plays. Anytime you score the first run with our pitching staff and our defense, it just kind of peps you up a little bit.”
Florida State Pitcher Casey Hunter
“I think it’s great when you get to start the tournament off that way. I think it just adds momentum to the team, so we can come out stronger the next game.”
“It wasn’t the best of days, but I was hitting the corner so it worked good enough to get the job done. Things showed up sporadically. Every once and awhile I had a fast ball, once in a while I had a curve, but nothing was really consistent the whole game.”
Florida State Second Baseman Veronica Wootson
“I look at it as that you have to leave everything on the field, we’ve got to put everything into the game and that’s what I did today.”
Long Island Head Coach Roy Kortmann
“(Casey) Hunter pitched a very nice game. Obviously, we didn’t hit too many balls hard. I thought our kid Jackie Brown did a pretty good job. She kept the ball in pretty good spots. I think Florida State hit three or four balls relatively hard, but other than that most of their hits found the little alleys found the holes. They ran the bases very well. They’re very, very aggressive and that put a little pressure on us. On the offensive end, obviously we struggled. We were a little tense in the first couple innings with our swings. She (Hunter) was bringing the ball a little bit, but we were a little tight. We loosened up a little bit as the game went along, but we really never had the chance to get anything started, so my hat off to Hunter. She did a real nice job.”
“We didn’t come here believing we were going to lose any games. We’re the eighth seed and everybody else believes we are going to lose, but I have a great group of kids who battle. We’ve played a lot of good teams the last few years. We don’t want to lose, but we are going to forget about it and go after it tomorrow.”