April 16, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – The 23rd-ranked Florida State softball team ends its regular-season home schedule by facing rival and fourth-ranked Florida on Wednesday, April 17 at 6 p.m. in a matchup that will air on ESPN3.
The contest is the last non-conference game of the regular season for the Seminoles (34-14). Florida State is 21-12 in non-conference games this season, as senior outfielder Morgan Bullock leads the Noles in non-conference hitting with a .352 batting average in 33 games played. The Dacula, Ga. native has also taken the team lead in overall batting average at .366.
Florida State is looking to avenge a heartbreaking loss to the Gators (41-5) on March 27 in Gainesville. Bullock’s four base hits and an 18-strikeout performance by sophomore Lacey Waldrop helped give the Seminoles a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, but a two-run throwing error pushed the game to extra innings with two outs. From there, Florida’s Briana Little hit a walk-off grand slam to defeat Florida State, 7-3.
“Wednesday night should be another fun ballgame between us,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “We gave them all they could handle in our first meeting and hopefully we can close things out and give us some more momentum as we try to finish strong in the rest of the conference season. Our pitching is starting to pick back up and against a power-hitting team like Florida we will need another big performance from the circle.”
Florida State is looking to end a 10-game losing streak to Florida that spans back to 2007. The last time the Seminoles defeated the Gators was in 2006, winning 4-0 and 6-5 in a doubleheader in Tallahassee. Since the 2006 season, both teams have been ranked in the Top 25 on five occasions when playing each other.
Seminole shortstop Maddie O’Brien has homered in three consecutive games. Over her last six games played, the Palm Harbor, Fla. native is 9-for-18 with six runs scored and has raised her batting average by 39 points.
In-state rivals Florida State and Florida have a relatively short history compared to their other sports. The Gators lead the Seminoles 17-13 in the all-time series that dates back to 1997.
Florida State’s offense has been one of the best in school history with several student-athletes stepping up after a rash of early-season injuries. Junior Courtney Senas is hitting .364 with 13 home runs and 51 RBIs, while freshman Victoria East has been a vital boost with a .356 average, three home runs, 27 RBIs, 14 doubles and 10 steals in 11 attempts. Her 14 doubles are tied for sixth-most in a season in school history.
Junior Kirstin Austin has been another standout figure at the plate, batting .353 with three home runs, 21 RBIs, nine doubles and a .414 on-base percentage.
Waldrop is coming off her fourth shutout performance of the season in a 2-0 win over Virginia on Monday night. She has been prolific in her last 22 appearances since March 2, allowing just 19 earned runs and striking out 128 batters in 95.2 innings pitched, equaling a 1.39 ERA. Since March 2, opponents have hit just .174 off her.
Florida is batting .279 as a team, led by Kelsey Stewart’s .392 batting average. Lauren Haeger is first on the team with 13 home runs and 48 RBIs and also shows a .696 slugging percentage. Both Stewart and Haeger are the lone hitters batting above .300.
The Gators have a 1.72 ERA from the circle, with Hannah Rogers leading the way once again with a 23-3 record and a 1.48 ERA. Alyssa Bache is 7-0 with a 1.63 ERA, and Haeger can also pitch well with an 11-2 record and a 2.23 ERA.
Following Wednesday night’s game, the Seminoles begin a six-game ACC road trip facing Virginia Tech on the road this weekend on April 20-21. The first game of the Saturday doubleheader against the Hokies airs live on ESPNU at noon.