April 9, 2003
Tallahassee, FL –
The first game of No. 14 FSU’s twin bill with UCF had everything. Two pitchers who carried no-hitters into the sixth inning and one who carried it into the ninth. A future All-American who needed just three years to tie a career doubles record and a current 1st Team All-American whose walk-off triple in extra innings won the game. When all was said and done the Seminoles (31-9) tied the tenth-longest winning streak in school history (12 games) as they downed the Golden Knights (28-22) 2-1 in nine innings on Brandi Stuart’s two-out, walk-off triple.
Sophomore sensation Casey Hunter (20-5) pitched eight innings of no-hit ball and struck out 11 batters as she reached 20 wins for the first time in her FSU career. Her outing versus UCF marked the 14th time in her 23 starts that she has held a team to three hits or less. Newly announced ASA National Player of the Year finalist Jessica van der Linden’s seventh inning double tied the all-time career record at Florida State as she now has more than a year to set a new record with 39.
After hitting the first batter of the game, Hunter came back and struck out UCF’s next batter. She then lost Stephanie Best, the Knight’s top hitter, on a 3-2 pitch to put runners on first and second with just one down. The stand-out sophomore got her second K of the inning after a long battle with Jenna Wansa then hit her second batter of the frame to load the bases. The right-hander came back though and got out of the jam on a foul out to Beth Wade at first.
Golden Knight starter Dottie Cupp (13-9) struck out the first batter she faced in the bottom of the first and then got Tatiana George on a pop up to second base. She proceeded to retire the Tribe in order as she got the third out on a ground ball.
After facing six UCF batters in the first, Hunter had a much easier time in the top of the second. The Belleville, IL native retired the side in order and recorded her third strike out of the game. In the bottom of the frame, Cupp struck out the side as she faced the minimum number of Seminole hitters for the second consecutive inning.
For the second straight inning Hunter started off with a strike out as she rung up her fourth batter of the game. She then recorded K number five as she tried to match Cupp by striking out the side in the top of the third. Hunter didn’t get the strikeout but she did get the Knights in order for the second straight inning. Cupp began the bottom of the inning just where she left off as she struck out the side again retiring six batters in a row via the K.
Just like she did in the second and third innings, Hunter retired the side in order again in the top of the fourth as she set down her tenth straight batter. She also raised her K total to six for the game. The Tribe started to get the bat on the ball in the fourth as Cupp’s strike out streak came to an end but they still couldn’t manage a hit. The Knight’s defense made back to b back great plays on hard hit balls and the game moved to the fifth still scoreless.
Hunter continued to set down UCF batters as she retired the Golden Knights in order again in the fifth and her streak of consecutive batters set down hit 13. She recorded another K in the process also to up her total to seven. Despite the fact that FSU continued to make good contact versus Cupp, the senior pitcher kept cruising through the FSU line-up. She retired FSU 1-2-3 for the fifth straight inning as she retired her 15th consecutive batter.
Hunter’s streak came to an end in the top of the sixth as she walked the Knight’s first batter to give UCF its first base runner since the first inning. After recording her eighth strike out, she walked Best to put two on with just one down in the frame. An error on a sacrifice bunt loaded the bases again as Hunter had to claw her way out of the first jam since the top of the first. The Golden Knights broke the scoreless tie as Cupp helped her own cause with a sacrifice fly to move all the runners up a base and stake UCF to a 1-0 lead. Hunter then walked her fourth batter of the game to load the bases again but she got out of the inning on a ground ball to retire the side.
Lesley Palmer tried to rally the Tribe after FSU fell behind 1-0. Her lead-off double down the left field line was the first hit of the game for either team. Shundra Colzie then sacrificed pinch runner Robyn Larson over to third as the Seminoles looked for the tying run. Pinch hitter Carly Brieske was unable to plate the run as Shandra Colzie came up needing a hit to tie the game up. Colzie didn’t get the hit but her hard hit chopper was misplayed by the UCF defense allowing Larson to score with the tying run.
Florida State’s second error of the game allowed UCF to put the leadoff runner on again in the top of the seventh. Elisa Vasquez erased the threat though as she combined with Brandi Stuart to pick off the runner at first. She then got the next two hitters on ground outs to keep the no-hitter alive through seven innings.
Florida State sent its 3-4-5 hitters to the plate in hopes of winning the game for FSU in the bottom of the seventh. Jessica van der Linden started things off in historic fashion as she doubled to left center. The two-bagger was the 38th of her FSU career and tied the all-time career doubles record set by Corrie Williams. The All-American candidate was sacrificed to third by Vasquez as Stuart came up with a chance to win the game. The senior drove a ball deep enough to right to send van der Linden home but the throw by Rachelle Schmidt was perfect and the Knights gunned the runner down at the plate and sent the game into extra innings.
Florida State committed another error in the top of the eighth but Hunter struck out the other three batters as she raised her K total to 11 and put FSU in position to try and win the game once again in the bottom of the frame. Beth Wade did her part as she led off with a single and Larson sacrificed her over to second. Cupp got Shundra Colzie turning away from strike three but a heads up play on the bases by Wade allowed Natasha Jacob to reach via a fielder’s choice. Shandra Colzie was unable to bring the runners home though as she sent a hard chopper back up the middle that Cupp handled to end the threat.
Hunter’s bid at a no-hitter came to an end with the first hitter she faced in the ninth as Simmons singled through the right side. Hunter came back and retired the next three batters to send the game to the bottom of the frame. Tatiana George led off the inning with FSU’s fourth hit of the game as she singled through the left side. Van der Linden then sent a deep fly ball to center that looked like it might clear the center fielder’s head but Jania Shinhoster made a great stab to make the out. Cupp then retired Vasquez bringing All-American Stuart to the plate. The senior laced a triple down the right field line scoring Wade from first and sending the Tribe to their 12th straight win.
After Florida State completes its second game of the twin bill versus UCF, the Tribe will hit the road again. The Seminoles will head to South Carolina to play two games versus Furman Saturday, April 12 at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. For more information on the 2003 Florida State softball team, please log on to seminoles.com, the official athletic home for Florida State on the internet.