March 16, 2002
Fullerton, CA –
Senior pitcher Leslie Malerich led the 22nd-ranked Seminole softball team past its third-ranked opponent in three days as FSU beat No. 13 Washington (25-8) 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the Kia Classic Tournament Saturday. With the win, FSU (25-10) advances into Sunday’s semi-final against Texas (24-8) for the right to play for the prestigious tournament’s championship.
Malerich, who was a hard luck loser versus the Huskies in Tallahassee in February, pitched a brilliant game. She walked just three batters while striking out nine on the way to her third victory of the tournament and her 16th of the season. The senior All-American didn’t allow an earned run for 15th time in her last 19 outings and now has a record of 16-7 with a 1.05 ERA.
Florida State looked to get things going early versus the Huskies and starter Tia Bollinger (10-4). Tatiana George led the game off with a single up the middle and was sacrificed to second by Shandra Colzie. Jessica van der Linden then drew a walk giving FSU runners on first and second with just one out and clean-up hitter Brandi Stuart coming to the plate. The Seminoles top hitter smashed a line drive to first that looked to be heading into right before UW first baseman Amanda Oleson snagged it out of the air and doubled off George at second to end the inning.
The score remained 0-0 until the top of the second when the Tribe broke through against Bollinger and took a 1-0 lead. Kimmy Carter started things off after an epic battle with Bollinger as she singled the tenth pitch she saw up the middle after starting out 0-2. Elisa Velasco bunted Carter over to second before Bryttani Lindheim drew a walk. As Lindheim made her way to first, Carter took off from second and successfully stole third. The steal turned out to be a key play as Carter came in to score when Becky Brock beat out an infield single knocking in her third run of the season.
The Garnet and Gold added to their lead in the third with two outs and Stuart down to her last strike. The Cerritos, CA native, playing just 15 miles from where she grew up, singled through the right side of the infield but the ball got past the UW right fielder. As the ball rolled to the wall, Stuart rounded third and beat the tag at the plate giving FSU a 2-0 lead.
Washington cut the lead in half in the third when an error and a passed ball led to the Huskies first run of the game. Jamie Clark’s single to right center scored Becky Simpson and put the score at 2-1. Florida State got out of the inning when George caught a foul ball in far left field and threw down to first where Clark was tagged out after failing to touch second base on her way back to first.
The Tribe attempted to build on their lead in the fifth. After a George walk, Bollinger came back to strikeout the next two batters and the Huskies then intentionally walked Stuart. Carter next singled to short to load the bases with two down in the inning. Before Velasco got up to the plate, Washington brought in ace pitcher Ashley Boek to close down the rally. Velasco watched three balls before Boek came back to send it to a full count. Velasco then sent a grounder to short but Washington was unable to gun her down as the Hesperia, CA native beat out the throw giving FSU a 3-1 lead.
The game remained 3-1 until the bottom of the fifth when Washington staged a two-out rally to cut the Seminoles’ lead to 3-2. The Huskies threatened to do more damage as they had runners on first and second with two outs but Malerich got Oleson to line out to shortstop Lindheim ending the fifth.
Malerich retired the Huskies on four pitches in the bottom of the sixth and looked to close out the game in the seventh. After an error and a single allowed Washington to threaten, Malerich induced a two-out pop out to end the inning and give FSU the win.
Next up for the Seminoles in the Kia Classic semifinals is another familiar opponent in Texas. The Longhorns advanced past Cal State Northridge 2-0 behind freshman phenome Cat Osterman. The Seminoles downed UT 1-0 in Tallahassee in March and will look to sweep the series Sunday at 12:00 p.m. EST. Live stats for tomorrow’s Kia Classic semifinal between the Longhorns and Seminoles will be available at the link below.
Live Stats: FSU vs. Texas