March 18, 2004
Fullerton, CA –
Despite not having first team All-American and reigning NFCA and USA Softball Player of the Week Jessica van der Linden due to illness, the third-ranked Seminoles still managed to get by No. 24 Arizona State (27-13) in the opening game for FSU (32-3) at the 2004 Kia Klassic. The Tribe got a brilliant pitching performance from junior Casey Hunter (17-1) and a key RBI single by All-American Elisa Vasquez to down the Sun Devils 1-0 Thursday morning.
The shutout was just the sixth time in 40 games that Arizona State has been held without a run and the win was just the second ever for FSU versus the Sun Devils. The victory was also the 13th consecutive win for FSU as they moved to 6-2 versus top 25 teams this season.
Hunter went the whole way for FSU as she struck out seven batters, issued just one walk and allowed only two hits. The outing was huge for the junior as she will be counted on to step up if van der Linden’s health doesn’t improve. Another player that was asked to step up in the All-American’s absence was Vasquez as the catcher was moved into van der Linden’s spot in the order. The Hesperia, CA native came through in a big way as she collected two of FSU’s three hits.
The Seminoles got off to the start they were looking for against Sun Devil hurler Bre DeSanta (9-4) in the first. Veronica Wootson drew a walk and then moved to second on a passed ball. Vasquez then followed with a big hit as she dropped a single into right field allowing Wootson to come around with the only run of the game.
Arizona State tried to capitalize on a walk and an error in the bottom of the second but they were unable to as they stranded two runners and the score remained 1-0.
The Seminoles squandered a Vasquez leadoff single in the fourth. The senior picked up her second hit of the game and was sacrificed to second but FSU was unable to score her as the game moved into the bottom of the fourth.
The Sun Devils had a lead-off single of their own in the fourth but like FSU a half inning earlier, they were unable to plate the run despite a sacrifice bunt moving the runner into scoring position.
The Tribe stranded its third base runner of the game in the fifth as Kim Hoffer tried to bunt her way aboard and knocked the ball out of the second baseman’s glove as she sprinted over to cover first. The Seminoles were able to move her over to second but that was as far as Hoffer got.
In the top of the sixth FSU attempted to stage a two-out rally in hopes of padding their lead. Lesley Palmer drew a walk and Beth Wade blooped a single into left center but DeSanta got out of the jam recording her seventh strikeout of the game.
ASU sent the top of the order up in the home half of the sixth but Hunter once again handcuffed the Sun Devil batters. The junior hurler struck out her fifth and sixth batters and recorded a pop out to end the sixth and move FSU within three outs of the win.
In their final at bat, ASU sent top hitter Phalen Wright up to the plate to lead off the inning. The Devils’ all-time leading homerun hitter lost the battle to Hunter though as she got caught looking at strike three. Arizona State put the potential tying run on as catcher Heidi Knabe recorded just the second ASU hit of the game on a single to right field. The Seminoles cut the lead runner down on a fielder’s choice for the second out of the inning and a ground out to short ended the game.
Florida State continues play at the prestigious Kia Klassic Tournament versus No. 20 Nebraska in a game scheduled to start at 4:00 p.m. EST. The Seminoles conclude pool play versus UNLV Friday, March 19. The game versus the Running Rebels will be available via Game Tracker exclusively at www.seminoles.com.