May 27, 2004
Oklahoma City, OK –
It may be a new Cal Bear team but the results are the same. The Golden Bears (51-11) continued their mastery over the fourth-ranked Seminoles (61-11) at the 2004 Women’s College World Series as sophomore ace Kristina Thorson (28-3) was virtually unhittable. The Washington native held FSU to just two hits, it’s fewest since the second game of the 2003 season, in leading Cal to a 4-2 opening round win at the World Series. The win was the 11th for Cal in 12 all-time meetings between the schools and it sent FSU into the loser’s bracket where the Seminoles will face No. 7 Washington Saturday at 3:00 p.m.
“We didn’t really hit well tonight at all,” said FSU head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf. “Jessica (van der Linden) had the only two hits in the game and I told the team a few minutes ago, everybody else has got to pick it up with the bats. We were only down two runs. We are pretty confident that we can score two runs so I didn’t feel we were ever out of the ball game, but we just didn’t make it happen at the plate.”
The Bears had the Tribe’s number all night as Thorson struck out 12 batters and issued just one walk. Florida State had just one hit, van der Linden’s two-run homer, through the first five innings and the only Seminole hitter to get a hit all night was the two-time first team All-American who singled again in the seventh to break Thorson’s streak of 17 consecutive Seminole batters retired.
“Kristina (Thorson) really settled down after the first inning and I think van der Linden was the only person who ended up getting the two hits so I really give her a lot of credit for not only pitching a great game, but for her effort at the plate,” said Cal head coach Diane Ninemire. “She is truly an outstanding player.”
“I give her (Thorson) credit, she’s a good pitcher,” said FSU first baseman Beth Wade. “I think she’s All-American. She did her job keeping us off balance pretty well. That’s her job. We didn’t make the adjustment as hitters.”
On the hill, van der Linden (28-8) struck out nine and didn’t issue a walk until the seventh inning but a three-run top of the third where she gave up four hits was her downfall. The Bears touched van der Linden for nine hits, the most she has allowed since 2002 when she gave up 13 in an 8-1 loss to Cal State Fullerton at the Kia Klassic.
“Being able to contribute my first at bat was really good,” said van der Linden. “It wasn’t my best pitching performance. I made some mistakes. They took advantage of that, and that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Cal got off to a great start as the Bears led off the game with a double and a bunt single on an attempted sacrifice. With runners on the corners, the Bears then swiped second putting two runners in scoring position with nobody away. van der Linden fanned the next two batters, and then escaped the threat on a fly out to shallow left field.
The Tribe couldn’t have asked for a better start themselves versus Thorson. Natasha Jacob drew a one-out walk, the only one Thorson would issue all game, to start off the first bringing up newly named USA Softball player of the year van der Linden. The senior, who has homered just three times all year, bombed a Thorson offering over the fence in left center for the 2-0 lead. It was her fourth HR of the year and the fifth of her career. The HR raised van der Linden’s RBI total to 55 on the year, which is a new FSU single season record.
The Bears broke through against van der Linden in the third as four hits, three singles and one triple, plated three runs and put Cal back on top 3-2. It was just the second time all season that van der Linden allowed two extra-base hits in a game.
“I thought we got in trouble in the first inning and Jess (van der Linden) got us out of it,” said Graf. “Then she hit a two-run home run. At that point I thought we had our momentum going pretty good, but in the third they came back and scored three runs.”
The bottom of the Bear line-up then extended the lead in the next inning. Light hitting Roni Rodrigues, who entered the game with a .191 batting average, launched a 1-0 van der Linden offering over the fence in center field. The two run cushion was more than enough for Thorson who allowed just one runner the rest of the way.
Florida State’s next game versus Washington will be shown live on ESPN2, an Internet broadcast will be available at Seminoles.com and live stats can be accessed at the official website for NCAA Championships at ncaasports.com.
“We’re going to play a really good team in Washington,” said Graf. “We played them earlier this year. I think Washington is going to come out and try to prove the same thing we are. We’re a better team than we (showed) tonight and I think Washington is going to try to prove that they’re a better team than they (showed) tonight. It’ll be a battle and both teams will play hard and give it everything they have.”
For more information on the 2004 FSU softball team or the 2004 WCWS, including tickets, please log on to the official athletic website of Florida State University at www.seminoles.com.