May 10, 2004
Ypsilanti, MI –
In what is becoming an all too familiar situation, the second-ranked Florida State softball team (54-9) lost its fifth game of the season in the opponent’s final at bat as two errors in the bottom of the seventh inning sunk the Tribe again. Eastern Michigan (18-31) took advantage of a hit batter, an error in the outfield and a booted ball in the infield to upset the second-ranked Seminoles 6-5 and send FSU to its fourth loss in the last six games.
Jessica van der Linden (24-6) was the hard luck loser on a day when the senior All-America set a new single season strikeout record as she fanned 15 batters and raised her career total to 320. She is now just two strikeouts away from tying a career record as well.
Kim Hoffer, Beth Wade and van der Linden all had multi hit games but the Tribe stranded 11 runners on the day keeping the game close all day. Of Florida State’s four runs only two came around thanks to RBIs and those were recorded by Veronica Wootson and Tatiana George.
The Seminoles looked to get off to another good start in the first as Veronica Wootson walked and stole second to lead off the inning. Natasha Jacob followed with a ground out but Wootson took off for third and the throw sailed into left field allowing the freshman to come around with her team leading 62nd run of the year. Wootson is now just one run away from scoring the second-most runs in one season in FSU history. Jessica van der Linden followed with a single and a stolen base putting another runner in scoring position. A long drive to the warning track in right field was the second out of the inning for Eastern Michigan starter Krissy Threet but the shot did move the runner to third. Tatiana George then came up and smoked a shot past the third baseman plating another FSU run and extending the Tribe’s lead to 2-0.
A leadoff walk and sac bunt put FSU back in business in the second but Threet got a grounder for the second out, which moved Kim Hoffer to third. Natasha Jacob then came up and laid down a bunt single. As the throw went to first, Wootson took off for home but was thrown out on the play to end the inning.
Eastern Michigan went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the second but van der Linden recorded her third K of the game giving her 308 on the season, which is a new single season record at FSU.
Florida State puts its leadoff hitter on base for the third straight inning as van der Linden recorded her second hit of the game and her third hit of the day. The senior moved up a base on a wild pitch she then advanced to third on Vasquez’s sacrifice bunt for the first out of the inning. van der Linden then came home on a wild pitch where an errant throw allowed her to reach safely.
Eastern Michigan got its first base runner of the day as the Eagle leadoff hitter drew a walk to open the third. Kayla Bluthhardt followed with a double to left center that Natasha Jacob made a great effort to haul in. The shot scored the runner from first cutting the Tribe lead to 3-1. Another single put runners on the corners with just one away as EMU looked to cut further into the FSU lead. EMU then swiped second putting both base runners in scoring position for the Eagle’s top hitter Nikki Denman. The sophomore went down swinging for the second out of the frame. A controversial play call then allowed two more EMU runners to score as the Eagles tied the game. A shot to short looked to hit off the base runners foot, which would have ended the inning but the umpires ruled that the ball hit the short stop and both runs counted tying the game 3-3.
The Tribe looked to regain the lead in the top of the fourth as Beth Wade led off with a hard hit single and was followed by a bunt base hit by Kim Hoffer. Both runners moved up a base on a fielding error putting two Seminoles in scoring position with nobody out. After a ground out, Threet went to work versus the top of the order. The 6’0″ EMU hurler walked Veronica Wootson to load the bases but a force at home put EMU one out away from escaping the Seminole threat. The hurler then ended the inning as she got All-American van der Linden to pop out to third to end the inning.
For the fifth time in six innings, FSU put its lead runner on as Beth Wade recorded a single to start the frame. Kim Hoffer then showed bunt but pulled back and dropped a hit into shallow right field putting runners on first and second with nobody away. The Seminoles tried to swipe third on a dropped pitch but pinch runner Julie Tiggis was tagged out before she could get her hand on the base. An error kept FSU in business though as a bobbled force out at second put two on once again this time with one away and Wootson made EMU pay. The freshman singled into left field plating Kim Hoffer with the Tribe’s fourth run and breaking the 3-3 tie in the process. A pop out and a walk to van der Linden loaded the bases once again as Vasquez stepped in with two away. The senior was unable to plate another run as FSU stranded its seventh, eighth and ninth runners of the game.
Eastern Michigan tried to stage a two-out rally in the sixth as two infield singles put FSU’s one-run lead in jeopardy but van der Linden put down the Eagle uprising as she Ked her 13th batter of the game to send the game into the seventh inning with the score still 4-3.
In the top of the seventh, Florida State put two more runners on via walks but the second came with two outs. LaShaun Davis then came through with a clutch hit as she singled to center field scoring a run and giving FSU a 5-3 advantage.
The Eagles cut the lead to 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh and had runners on second and third with two away as they threatened to either tie or win the game against new FSU pitcher Casey Hunter. The game looked to be over on a ground ball to second but an error allowed the ball to roll into center field and both runners came around to score.
Florida State is next in action when it opens postseason play as the No. 1 seed at the ACC Tournament in Tallahassee May 14. The Tribe will face the Georgia Tech/NC State winner at 5:30 p.m. Friday. For more information on the 2004 FSU softball team or the 2004 ACC Championship in Tallahassee please log on to the official athletic website of Florida State University at www.seminoles.com.