May 30, 2004
Oklahoma City, OK –
It seemed like the theme of the 2004 Women’s College World Series for No. 4 Florida Sate was a lack of hitting and that ended up being the team’s downfall in Sunday’s quarterfinal. The Seminoles (62-12) could muster just four hits versus LSU ace Kristin Schmidt (37-6) as the Tigers (56-11) beat the Seminoles, 2-1, marking their second win over FSU this year, and eliminated the Tribe from the 2004 WCWS.
Florida State, which had one of its most prolific years at the plate entering the World Series, could muster just 10 hits in three games and the team struck out 27 times in 21 innings. The 10 hits overall were just one fewer than Cal and LSU each recorded in wins versus Florida State.
“We have to credit LSU,” said FSU head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf. “They called a great game against us. I felt like with only giving up two runs to their team and getting out of a couple of jams, I felt pretty good because we hit their pitcher pretty good early in the game, but it seemed our hitting got worse as the game went on. I don’t think we were really swinging at good pitches, letting a lot of good pitches get by. I thought they (LSU) did a great job.”
When the Seminoles did get hits at the WCWS most came from All-American Jessica van der Linden who went 5-for-7 and accounted for half of the Seminoles’ hits at the WCWS. Three of the 10 hits were home runs as the Tribe homered in every game at the World Series. FSU came to Oklahoma City 29-0 when it hit a home run but was 1-2 this weekend in that situation.
“Great softball game,” said LSU head coach Yvette Girouard. “Kristen Schmidt, what can I say about her that I haven’t said about her? All year long, she’s just done a phenomenal job for us. We came out attacking in the first inning and I thought that set the tone for us. I guess our kids wouldn’t be denied today. This was a great Florida State team and I think we took a little wind out of their sails, but then they battled right back.”
LSU opened the first with a hit right away as Lauren Castle blooped a single over short and into shallow left field. All-American LaDonia Hughes then followed with a slap sac beating out the throw to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Camille Harris followed with a single through the middle to load the bases but an error on the throw to home allowed everybody to move up a base and put LSU in front 1-0. FSU starter Casey Hunter came back to get the next two outs via a grounder and a strike out before loading the bases on a hit by pitch. The Seminoles seemed to be out of the inning on the next play as Stephanie Hill pounded a ball into the ground right in front of home plate. Instead of just touching home and ending the inning on the force out, catcher Elisa Vasquez turned to first and Hughes barreled into the back of her and the umpires called everyone safe. After a protest from head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf, the umpires reversed their call and ruled a force out on the play wiping the run off the board and ending the inning.
“If they scored two or three in the first inning, I would have felt different, but I think the umpire, once she got convinced, made the right call,” said Graf. “I felt pretty good at that time.”
After all the controversy settled down in the top of the first, Veronica Wootson kept it simple in the home half of the inning. The freshman All-American led off the game with a bomb over the fence in left field. It was her team-leading eighth homer of the season and it was the second time this year that Wootson led off the game with a home run.
Hunter almost made it out of the second with just the third 1-2-3 inning for FSU in the entire WCWS but a wild pitch on a third strike allowed Lauren Castle to reach but she was called out when she left base early as LSU’s would-be fifth hit landed in shallow left field. The play was ruled dead and the inning was over.
Schmidt struck out the side in the bottom of the second as the bottom of the Tribe line-up, which was 6-for-8 versus Schmidt in the first meeting, struggled early in the game.
The Tigers continued to pressure the Seminoles defense as Hughes chopped a hit down the third base line that looked to be heading foul but Kim Hoffer tried to field it and the ball hit off her glove and allowed Hughes to get all the way to second. The All-American couldn’t advance off second on a shallow fly ball to center field for the first out but she did move up on the second out, which was a grounder back to the hill. Hughes ended the inning standing on third as a foul out to catcher Elisa Vasquez ended the top of the third.
Schmidt retired the first two Seminoles she faced in the third raising her streak to seven straight Seminoles retired before she issued a two-out walk to van der Linden but the Tribe left her sitting on first as Lesley Palmer popped out to the catcher to end the third.
For the 16th time in the last 18 innings FSU’s opponent put a runner on base and for the third time in four innings versus LSU it came in the first batter of the inning. Leigh Ann Danos started the inning with a hit into right center and pinch Lauren Uhle was sacrificed to second. She then moved to third on a ground out to short but Hunter couldn’t close down the threat as nine hole hitter Sara Fitzgerald singled through the left side plating the go-ahead run for the Tigers.
Once again FSU was unable to get the opponent out 1-2-3 as another error on what would have been the third out put a Tiger on base for the fourth time. Hunter did get out of it on the next pitch though as a ball was sent between the hurler’s legs and shortstop Tatiana George fielded it and touched the base simultaneously to end the top of the fifth.
FSU again put the leadoff runner on base in the sixth as Hunter walked Danos to start the inning. Then a double moved the runners to second and third and ended the day for Hunter. That brought van der Linden in the circle as FSU tried to keep its National Championship dream alive. van der Linden lost the first batter she faced to load the bases as LSU threatened to break the game open. The USA Softball Player of the Year got the first out on her first K of the game. A huge gaff on the bases allowed van der Linden and FSU to get out of the mess as a pop to short got FSU its second out and the runner on third for some reason did not return to third where George threw to complete the double play and end the inning.
“I wasn’t really on my game today,” said Hunter. “I made a few mistakes and they took advantage of it as hitters should. I don’t think I felt rusty, but of course, I wasn’t on top of my game.”
After she bailed FSU out of the bases loaded jam, van der Linden sent a one-out double into right center for her fifth hit of the WCWS. The All-American had five of the 10 hits for FSU at the World Series. The double was also the 10th of the year for van der Linden who now has 10 or more doubles all four years at Florida State. No other Seminole could figure out Schmidt though as the LSU senior fanned the next two batters to end the threat and move three outs from eliminating FSU from the WCWS.
After van der Linden K’ed Hughes for the first time in her last 76 plate appearances, another error by the Tribe defense put another Tiger runner on base. Leslie Klein then sent a slow roller to short that she beat out at first. Both runners moved up a base on a double steal before a foul out gave the Tribe the second out of the inning. Another foul out, this one to catcher BillieAnne Gay ended the threat as LSU stranded its 10th base runner of the game.
The Tribe tried to rally in the seventh as pinch hitter Katie Fricke singled with one away but once again Schmidt was dominant getting two more strikeouts to end the game.
“You can’t say we didn’t get our breaks and our opportunities,” said Graf. “We just didn’t put any pressure at all on their defense. We just did not put the ball in play. I thought Casey (Hunter) and Jess (van der Linden) did a great job.
“I don’t feel like we hit consistently well up and down through our batting order as we have all year,” continued Graf. “Again, you face better pitching when you get here sometimes than what you face during the season but we’ve got to get people on base. Ultimately that’s what cost us. We didn’t get enough runners on base.”
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.