March 1, 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
The 18th-ranked Seminole softball team fought back from a four-run deficit and scored five times in the final two innings to down Kansas and open the Sunshine Classic with a 5-4 win. Senior Kimmy Carter went 2-for-3 and extended her team-leading RBI total to 19 as she knocked in two versus Kansas (4-7) including the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh. Fellow senior Leslie Malerich relieved starter Jessica van der Linden with one out in the first and allowed just two hits in picking up her seventh win of the season.
Florida State, now 15-6 on the season, fell behind early when its hottest pitcher of late, van der Linden, got into trouble in the top of the first inning. The Jayhawks used four hits and were aided by three more FSU errors as they burst out of the gate to a 4-0 lead. It was the shortest outing of van der Linden’s career as she retired just one batter before being replaced by Malerich who came in and put out the fire.
The score remained 4-0 into the bottom of the sixth inning as Kansas starter Kelly Campbell held the Seminole batters without a hit for 4 2/3 innings before Brandi Stuart broke up the no-no with a double down the left field line. In the sixth, Tatiana George singled to left center to start the inning and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. That brought up van der Linden, who moved into center after starting the game on the mound, who tripled down the left field line scoring George. After Stuart was intentionally walked, Carter singled up the middle scoring van der Linden with her first RBI of the day.
Malerich (7-5) held the Jayhawks off the board in the top of the seventh as the Seminoles entered the bottom of the frame trailing 4-2. Florida State entered the game with a 0-4 record this season when trailing after six. Catcher Julie Jordan led off the inning by singling the first pitch she saw down the left field line. After pinch-hitter Bryttani Lindheim walked, George was hit by pitch which loaded the bases.
With one out and the bases juiced, FSU’s leading hitter, Stuart came to the plate. She sent a shot to short, which was thrown away at first allowing both pinch-runner Shundra Colzie and Lindheim to score. That brought up FSU’s top run producer in Carter who had already cut the lead to 4-2 with an RBI in the sixth. The co-captain took a 2-2 pitch to left field, scoring George and giving FSU the 5-4 victory.
The win was FSU’s first tournament opening win in four tries this season and gave the Seminoles a rallying point as they go against No. 22 Mississippi State and Texas Saturday.
“I think a win like that could help this team,” said head coach JoAnne Graf. “We didn’t play very well for five innings but the kids came through and you have to give Leslie credit for coming in early and keeping us in this thing.”
The Seminoles return to action Saturday, March 2 at 12:00 p.m. as they continue play at the Sunshine Classic Tournament by facing No. 22 Mississippi State. The Seminoles will then take on Texas in a game scheduled to start at 2:00 p.m. There is no admission charge for regular season games played at the Seminole Softball Complex and Sunshine Classic games will be played all weekend. For more information on Seminole softball, please visit our official website at www.seminoles.com.