April 30, 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The 21st-ranked Seminole softball team (44-14-0, 5-0-0) took another step towards clinching the ACC regular season title as they downed Virginia 4-0 in game one of a doubleheader in Charlottesville Tuesday. The win moves the Seminoles just one victory away from clinching the top seed in next week’s ACC Tournament to be held in Tallahassee, FL and drops UVa to 44-19-0 and 1-5 in the ACC.
The game featured two of the conference’s top pitchers in Florida State’s Leslie Malerich (26-10, 4-0) and Virginia’s Kristen Dennis. The two seniors are the favorites for ACC Player of the Year honors this season and Tuesday’s win marks the second consecutive victory for Malerich against Dennis. Malerich was masterful as she shutout out the Cavaliers for just the sixth time this season and recorded her 26th complete game and 11th shutout. She now has 98 career victories and is just two wins away from reaching 100 in her career.
Dennis (23-10) came out strong in the top of the first inning. The ACC Player of the Year candidate set down the Tribe in order with two strikeouts. After allowing 10 hits and six runs in the first inning in her last three starts, senior All-American Leslie Malerich was perfect in the bottom of the first. The Merrillville, IN native matched Dennis and set the Cavs down in order as the game moved to the second.
The Garnet and Gold looked to break through against Dennis in the top of the second as Kimmy Carter recorded the first hit of the game and was sacrificed over to second by Monique Marier. After Beth Wade drew a walk, Becky Brock came up with two on and two out. The third baseman fouled off three two-strike pitches before she was retired on a ground out to third.
Dennis came right back in the bottom of the frame and recorded UVa’s first hit of the game as she doubled off of the top of the fence in right center. The ball bounced back in to the field of play just missing putting the Cavs up 1-0. Malerich went on to strike out the next batter she faced before Hannah Owings reached via an infield single. Malerich recorded her third strikeout of the game before loading the bases on a two-out walk to pinch hitter Johanna Kaiser. The senior hurler came back and struck out her fourth batter of the game to end the Virginia threat.
The Cavaliers looked to get something going in the bottom of the third when Heather Filed led off the inning by singling to right center and moving to second when no one covered the base as FSU returned the ball to the pitcher. Malerich retired the next two batters before issuing an intentional walk to Dennis to put runners on first and second. Malerich got Stephanie Calhoun to fly out to left to end the inning.
The Tribe looked as if they would be able to get something going against Dennis in the fourth as Brandi Stuart reached on an error but was called out for leaving early on an attempted steal. Carter then reached on another Cav error but she was doubled off of first when Marier popped out to second base leaving the game tied at 0-0.
The Cavaliers once again put runners on in the fourth as they used a hit and a walk to put runners on first and second with two outs. Field then came up and sent a shot down the left field line that was headed for the outfield. Third baseman Becky Brock may a diving stab and pulled in the ball and dived to tag third to end the inning.
In the top of the fifth, FSU mounted another threat when Wade drew a lead-off walk and Shandra Colzie got on with a one-out bunt to put runners on first and second with just one down. Tatiana George then laced a shot to short that ricocheted off of Field’s glove. The error loaded the bases for Florida State brining up Jessica van der Linden. The sophomore was down to her last strike before she sent a single just over the glove of second baseman Jill Bumler scoring pinch runner Skyla Cox and Shandra Colzie and giving the Seminoles the 2-0 lead.
After scoring two runs in the fifth, the Seminoles looked to add to the lead in the top of the sixth as Carter led off with a double to right field. Marier sacrificed the catcher to third bringing up first baseman Wade. Wade took the second pitch she saw deep over the fence in right center extending FSU to a 4-0 lead. It was her third home run of the season and first since April 11 versus UAB. The two RBIs were her 14th and 15th of the year.
A two-out error in the bottom of the sixth opened the door for the Cavaliers to get back into the game as they went on to load the bases versus Malerich. After her defense missed the opportunity to end the frame, the senior came back to get the last out on a weak liner back up the middle preserving the 4-0 lead.
Virginia looked to take advantage of its last opportunity in the bottom of the seventh as Kelly McCabe started things off with a single. After Malerich got the first out of the inning, relief pitcher Erin Allinder singled to center field to put runners on first and second with just one down. Malerich came back to strike out Calhoun for her sixth of the game and then retired Owings to pick up the win.
The Seminoles and Cavaliers will complete their season series before wrapping-up ACC play at Maryland (30-18, 2-3) Thursday, May 2 at 5:00 p.m. as they attempt to become the first ACC team to ever complete the regular season at 8-0. The Tribe will close out the regular season with two home series versus Troy State Saturday, May 4 at 1:00 p.m. and No. 10 Florida Atlantic Tuesday, May 7 at 5:30 p.m. For more information on Seminole softball, please visit our official athletic website at www.seminoles.com.