Feb. 27, 2004
Columbus, GA –
The 10th-ranked Florida State softball team (14-1) stayed perfect in pool play at the 2004 NFCA Leadoff Classic Friday night. The Tribe needed eight innings to defeat 15th-ranked Texas (9-7) 2-1 and stay with Washington for the chance to move into the gold bracket Saturday. Junior hurler Casey Hunter (7-0) won her seventh straight game to start the season behind a new season high 13 K’s. Elisa Vasquez delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the eighth as FSU defeated its first ranked opponent of 2004.
The Horns started the game with a leadoff single versus Casey Hunter (6-0) but the junior came back and got the next two hitters before Elisa Vasquez retired the side by throwing out Texas’ Tina Boutelle trying to swipe second. Florida State got a leadoff hit of its own in the bottom of the frame as Veronica Wootson started the Seminoles off with a single past the third baseman. Hurler Christina Gwyn (0-3) got two outs in the inning but Natasha Jacob was on third with the top-RBI producer Vasquez at the plate. The Horn hurler uncorked a wild pitch but Jacob was tagged out trying to score to end the FSU threat.
In the home half of the second, the bottom of the FSU order tried to get things going for the Seminoles. After retiring the first two batters, designated player Kim Hoffer reached on a bunt single. She moved to third on Beth Wade’s single into center field. The Tribe once again was unable to plate a runner from third as Gwyn got out of the jam.
Texas looked to score on its own two-out rally in the top of the third. Boutelle reached for the second straight time and then UT’s leading hitter Amber Hall followed with a deep double to left. With runners on second and third and two down, Hunter bounced back and got Tamara Poppe to ground out to end the threat.
The Horns picked up their fourth hit of the night on a leadoff single to start the fourth. Hunter then walked the second batter to put two runners on with nobody out. The Seminole hurler got the next two hitters but UT was able to move both runners into scoring position. The junior ended the threat though with a pop out to second baseman Veronica Wootson.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Seminoles put their first two runners on base both via Gwyn walks. The Horns then made a big play throwing behind Palmer at second and picking off the leadoff runner in scoring position in a 0-0 game. Texas got the second out of the frame on a Tatiana George pop up and then finished FSU off when Kim Hoffer grounded out to third.
Texas started the second consecutive inning with a bloop single into center field. Gwyn then moved up to second on a ground out as UT once again threatened to take the lead. Hunter then walked Hall who had doubled earlier in the game. With runners on first and second Hunter once again needed to pitch out of a jam to preserve the shutout and keep FSU in the game. The righty got Poppee looking at strike three and then got Wynter Turner the same way to once again keep her team in the game.
Hunter had one of her best innings of the night in the sixth as she set down the heart of the Texas order 1-2-3. The junior recorded two more K’s, which raised her total to nine with seven called third strikes.
In the home half of the sixth van der Linden drew a leadoff walk but FSU was unable to sacrifice the runner over as they popped up the bunt for the first out of the inning. Vasquez followed with a sharp single into left field moving van der Linden to second. The senior was then forced out at third for the second out of the inning and Gwyn got out of the jam with a ground out right back up the middle.
Wade started the bottom of the seventh with a walk before Carey Galuppi replaced her to run at first. The Tribe couldn’t cash in though as they failed to get a sacrifice bunt down and then a fly out and a caught stealing put an end to the seventh.
With the international tiebreaker in place, UT placed a runner at second to start the eighth. Boutelle made it to third on the second out of the inning before a Hunter walk placed runners on the corners. Chez Seivers then plated the first run of the night as her two-out single to right field put UT in front.
The Tribe came into the bottom of the eighth looking to at least tie the game with Wootson placed on second and number two hitter Natasha Jacob at the plate. Jacob drew Gwyn’s seventh walk of the game putting the winning run on base. Gwyn lost van der Linden on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases with nobody away. Lesley Palmer came through with an infield single that tied the game at 1-1 still leaving the bases juiced with no outs. Vasquez then popped a fly ball straight up into the air that the UT shortstop couldn’t locate allowing the game winning run to score.
Florida State returns to action versus No. 4 Washington (13-2) Saturday at 10:00 a.m. The game will be the final game of pool play for both teams. Live stats will be available for the contest at the official athletic website for FSU at www.seminoles.com.