May 27, 2006
TEMPE, Ariz. –
Some didn’t expect them to make the NCAA Tournament and many thought they would never get out of the regional, but the Florida State University softball team proved all the naysayers wrong. The Seminoles came alive at the right time and advanced to the NCAA Super Regional, but their stellar run was ended Saturday (May 27) as they lost 5-1 to No. 7 Arizona State.
The loss ended Florida State’s season with a 44-30 record. It was the 24th season the Seminoles had reached 40 wins and the 16th in the last 17 seasons. Arizona State moves on to the Women’s College World Series with 52-13 record.
“I told the kids that I’m really proud of them,” FSU head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf said. “There are only 16 teams remaining out of 300 or so Division I programs so to make it this far is quite an accomplishment. We don’t lose too much to graduation and we’ve got some good young kids coming in so I think it’s a great experience for our players. We went a step farther than we did last year and I told them next year we can go that extra step.”
Taking the loss was freshman Melissa May (San Diego, Calif.) as her ledger dropped to 8-7. The rookie was the winning pitcher in the Seminoles’ 2-0 victory over No. 8 Georgia to get FSU to the Super Regional. The left-hander surrendered two unearned runs to the Sun Devils on three hits with two strikeouts and no walks. Picking up her second victory over Florida State was Katie Burkhart as she improved to 29-6.
“Mel (May) did a great job, but the defense wasn’t what we’re used to,” Graf added. “She did a great job of keeping her composure. She pitched to where the defense should have made some plays to keep her in the game.”
Sophomore Tiffany McDonald (Belfair, Wash) came on in relief of May in the fifth, giving up three runs, but only one earned, with three strikeouts. Her national leading 329.1 innings pitched this season is an Atlantic Coast Conference and Florida State single-season record. The right-hander’s 57 appearances are second in FSU lore.
Down 4-0 in the sixth, Florida State started to mount a comeback. Right fielder LaShaun Davis (Marietta, Ga.) and left fielder Natasha Jacob (Coppell, Texas), hit back-to-back singles. Shortstop Yuruby Alicart extended her FSU single-season record with her 19th double to score Davis. Unfortunately, Veronica Wootson (Fontana, Calif.) struck out and first baseman Brittany Osmon (San Diego, Calif.) was robbed on a shallow pop fly to end the threat.
Errors proved to be the downfall of the Seminoles as they committed a season-high six miscues. After escaping the first inning after a pair of errors by Wootson that put runners on second and third, May pitched solid the next three innings, retiring six of the next eight batters she faced. The lefty worked out of a jam in the fourth, but wouldn’t be as fortunate in the fifth.
“We got beat by a better team this weekend,” Graf noted. “They put the ball in play and did what they had to do to win. I didn’t feel that we played our best; we made way too many errors today. Our hitters were trying a little too hard to make the big play instead of putting the bat on the ball.”
May hit the leadoff batter in the fifth then issued a single. Kaitlin Cochran was intentionally walked to load the bases then May got Rhiannon Baca to pop out. The next batter hit a sharp ball to Alicart at shortstop, but after bobbling the ball, her throw to home hit the runner, allowing the first run to score. May induced another grounder, but catcher BillieAnne Gay (Tallahassee, Fla.) couldn’t hold on as another run scored.
The Seminoles appeared to be out of the sixth unscathed after a two-out hit and a hit batter, but the throw from third baseman Michelle Snyder (Wenatchee, Wash.) to first hit the runner, allowing two more runs to score. The final ASU run came across on a solo home run by Mindy Cowles in the seventh.
Davis led the way with a pair of hits, including a double in the third inning. Jacob and Gay both picked up base hits in their final collegiate at-bats. Jacob finished her stellar career sixth in ACC history, and fourth in Seminole lore, with 271 hits. She’s also in the FSU top ten in at-bats (4th – 796), stolen base (6th – 69), runs (7th – 147), games (8th – 264), walks (8th – 74) and triples (10th – 15).
The future looks bright for the Seminoles as they bring back eight of 10 positions players and all three pitchers for next season.