April 10, 2004
Orlando, FL –
The UCF Golden Knights came into Saturday’s doubleheader with FSU on a 15-game winning streak and a chance to prove they belong among the nation’s best versus No. 3 FSU softball (43-4). The Knights gave the Tribe everything they could handle and took the Seminoles to nine innings but Veronica Wootson’s two-out blast in the bottom of the ninth won the game for FSU as the Seminoles’ secured their 11th consecutive victory.
Jessica van der Linden (19-3) was brilliant in relief of Casey Hunter who fell ill in the second inning. van der Linden went eight innings allowing just two hits, no walks and striking out 12 batters. She also recorded an RBI single in the fifth that helped FSU even the game at 1-1.
Florida State put runners on in both the first and second innings but was unable to advance either past second base as Lindsay Enders (15-4) held the Tribe at bay. The Golden Knights top hitter Stephanie Best then led off the second with a single into shallow left center. After the hit, FSU starter Hunter was removed from the game due to heat related problems and van der Linden took the circle. A sac bunt and hit batter put UCF base runners at first and second with just one away. van der Linden got the next hitter swinging but she couldn’t get out of the inning as Nikki Green dropped a single in front of left fielder Natasha Jacob scoring Stephanie Best from second base.
Florida State didn’t have another base runner until the top of the fourth before Beth Wade sent a two-out single into the gap in right. Carly Brieske then drew her second straight walk as the Tribe tried to put together a two-out rally but Enders got Tatiana George watching strike three to end the top of the inning.
van der Linden used three strikeouts to close out the fourth raising her total to six in three innings. The Seminoles started the fifth looking to capitalize on a UCF error that put Kim Hoffer on first. Carey Galuppi sacrificed her to second before Enders got Veronica Wootson to pop up to short for the second out of the inning. After hitting Natasha Jacob, van der Linden stepped into the box with an opportunity to add to her team leading RBI total. The senior lined two balls just foul of the bag at first that looked like they would go for extra bases and tie the game. The senior didn’t get extra bases but she did tie the game as she singled up the middle plating Kim Hoffer with van der Linden’s 38th RBI. Both base runners moved up on a steal but the Tribe was unable to cash in as Enders got out of the jam.
The Golden Knights went quietly in the bottom of the fifth as van der Linden set down UCF in order and added two more strikeouts. Seven of the last 11 batters she faced were all K victims.
For just the second time all day and the second straight inning, FSU puts its lead runner on as Wade was hit by a pitch and they once again executed a perfect sac bunt, this one by Brieske, moving pinch runner LaShaun Davis to second base. Tatiana George then flied out to center moving Enders one out away from closing the top of the sixth. Hoffer looked like she had broken the tie game open as she singled into shallow right field and Dr. JoAnne Graf sent Davis home from second. Michelle Schmidt fired a bullet home and pegged Davis as she tried to slide under the tag preserving the tie.
Former Seminole Bryttani Lindheim put UCF in business in the bottom of the sixth as her one-out single brought up UCF’s top hitter in Best with a runner on base in front of her. The Golden Knight’s home run leader was unable to even get her bat on a van der Linden pitch as the senior All-American got her looking at strike three and retired her on three straight pitches. The Seminoles ended the inning as BIllie Anne Gay threw out a would-be base stealer at second base.
The Tribe got a bunt single in the seventh but was unable to move Natasha Jacob around as UCF came up looking to win the game in the bottom of the seventh.
UCF started the inning with a pop out to first before an error allowed the game-winning run to get on base. The runner moved to second when van der Linden hit her third batter of the day giving the Knights a chance to win the game on any hit to the outfield. UCF’s number eight hitter popped out to short for the second out of the game and then van der Linden recorded her 10th K of the game to end the threat.
Wade drew a one out walk in the top of the eighth but FSU was unable to get anything going as UCF came up to bat with the top of their order in the home half of the inning. It was the ninth base runner stranded by the Seminoles on the day.
The top three hitters in the UCF order went down 1-2-3 in the home half of the eighth. It looked like the Seminoles would follow suit in the top of the ninth as the first two hitters were easy outs for Enders and the UCF defense. Wootson then stepped in having gone 0-for-4 versus Enders. The freshman took a first pitch strike and then blasted a shot out of the park and over the left field wall. The bomb was her fourth of the year and staked UCF to a 2-1 lead.
The Golden Knights sent Best to the plate trailing by a run to start the home half of the ninth. The junior entered the game with a .467 average and singled in her first at bat but has been a van der Linden K victim her last two times to the plate. van der Linden got Best swinging again. The Golden Knight clean-up hitter came into the game with 15 strikeouts in 120 at bats but had three in three at bats versus the FSU All-America. The K was van der Linden’s 11th of the day and the most since fanning 14 Troy State batters March 16. She went on to finish the day with 12 after fanning one of the final two batters she faced.
The Seminoles will complete its UCF doubleheader at 4:00 p.m. before returning back to Tallahassee. The Tribe will complete their season series with Florida A&M at home Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m. For more information on the 2004 FSU softball team please log on to the official athletic website of Florida State University at www.seminoles.com.