April 5, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – The 21st-ranked Florida State University softball team is looking for a bounce-back effort as it heads into an important ACC series on the road at second-place Virginia Tech this weekend. First pitch for game one is on Friday at 7 p.m., followed by a doubleheader beginning at noon on Saturday.
The Seminoles (33-7, 8-1) own the ACC’s best conference record with the Hokies (27-12, 6-2) trailing by 1 ½ games. Virginia Tech is the only team in the conference that owns a winning record versus FSU all-time, showing a 14-12 edge dating back to its first season in the ACC in 2005.
“We’ve had several good games with Virginia Tech over the years, and this season they’ve got another strong ballclub,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “Our team just needs to regain our focus and mentally and physically prepare ourselves for a crucial conference series on the road that has large implications in the ACC standings.”
Last season, both teams split their meetings at 2-2. The Hokies traveled to Tallahassee and took two extra-inning affairs in the regular season, while FSU needed a seven-inning gem from all-time strikeout leader Sarah Hamilton to get past Virginia Tech in the first game, 1-0. The Seminoles, however, responded with a 9-2 win over the Hokies in the first round of the ACC Championship in Atlanta.
FSU is coming off a 9-1 loss at the hands of in-state rival Florida on Wednesday, with sophomore Kelly Hensley leading the way offensively with an RBI double and a single. Within the conference, the Seminoles recently took two of three from nationally-ranked North Carolina, including a 3-1 victory at home in front of a national audience on ESPNU.
The Seminoles have three everyday position players batting above .300 this season. Junior second baseman Tiffani Brown has been FSU’s catalyst as she recently snapped an 11-game hitting streak. Brown leads FSU with a .319 batting average and ranks eighth nationally with 30 stolen bases. Over the last 12 games Brown has batted .405 with 11 runs scored and two triples.
FSU is currently 17th in the latest NCAA RPI rankings, while Virginia Tech is 35th. The Hokies own some impressive wins this season, including a 3-0 decision over then-No. 15 Oklahoma State in Auburn, Ala. Virginia Tech is 5-0 on the road in conference play, owning three wins at Maryland and two at N.C. State.
Like FSU, Virginia Tech’s offense isn’t predicated on power. The Hokies have 22 home runs this season and are hitting .248 as a unit. Kylie McGoldrick leads the team with a .302 batting average, while Kelsey Mericka is its top run-producer with 26 RBIs.
Pitcher Jasmin Harrell, who faced FSU last season, has had a good season in the circle. She is 17-8 with a 1.64 ERA, and has struck out 119 batters in 153.2 innings thrown. No. 2 starter Bailey Liddle is 7-3 with a 2.61 ERA.
FSU will continue its theme from Monday and wear its specially-made military shirts as part of Virginia Tech’s Military Appreciation game this Friday. The three-game set is an unconventional Friday-Saturday series due to Easter Sunday.
Follow this weekend’s action by accessing the live stats page on hokiesports.com. Fans can also follow FSU softball’s official twitter handle – @FSU_Softball – for in-game tweets.