March 11, 2004
Tallahassee, FL –
It took a while but the fourth-ranked Seminole softball team finally found a way to shake Notre Dame Thursday night. The Tribe committed three errors and stranded 11 runners but still managed a 4-3, 10-inning win over the Irish (12-7). The Seminoles recorded 11 hits including four for extra bases in the victory that improved the team’s record to 23-3 on the year.
At the plate, senior Beth Wade continued to be the star for Florida State. The fifth-year player went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI while hitting her fourth homerun of the year, which leads the team but it, was newcomer Kim Hoffer who had the game-winning shot. With two outs the shortstop, filling in for an injured Tatiana George, drove a shot over the head of the Notre Dame outfielder who made a great effort to get her glove on the ball but couldn’t haul it in. It was a sweet ending to for Hoffer considering she was 0-for-4 on the day before that at bat. Lesley Palmer also had a good night with two doubles, the second of which came in the tenth and ended up putting FSU in position to win the game.
Hunter pitched one of her best games of the year as all three runs allowed were unearned and outside of the third, she held UND without a run for nine innings. She walked just two batters and threw just 151 pitches in the 10 innings of work as her ERA dropped to 1.10 on the season.
Hunter worked a perfect top of the first and opened the door for Florida State to put pressure on the Fighting Irish in the bottom of the frame. Veronica Wootson led of the bottom of the frame with a bunt single and then moved to second on a passed ball. Natasha Jacob sacrificed the freshman to third before Jessica van der Linden brought her home on an RBI single to right field. The All-American came around to score on the next play as Palmer doubled to deep center to put FSU up 2-0.
Hunter breezed through the second, setting UND up and down 1-2-3. In the home half of the second the Tribe tried to build on its lead and stage a two-out rally. After Katie Fricke walked to start the inning, Irish hurler Heather Booth (6-2) got the next two hitters before back-to-back base knocks by Wootson and Jacob loaded the bases but FSU was unable to cash in as the game moved into the third with FSU still up 2-0.
Two Seminole errors in the third put Notre Dame in position to get back in the game. With just one down, two misplayed balls put runners on the corners for the Irish. Notre Dame took advantage as they halved the lead on Stephanie Brown’s RBI single, the first UND hit of the game. Another single loaded the bases for UND three hitter Megan Ciolli. Ciolli’s infield single tied the game and another base knock allowed UND to jump in front 3-2 before the Tribe finally made it out of the top of the third.
With two outs in the fourth, Wade took it upon herself to tie the game with one swing of the bat. The senior jacked her fourth homerun of the year over the wall in left center field. She now has as many homeruns in 26 games as she had in her previous three years, which encompassed 118 starts.
The Irish threatened to retake the lead in the fifth on two infield singles. With just one away, UND sent up the heart of its order with runners on first and second. Hunter got the Irish clean-up hitter to ground out for the second out of the inning and then ended the threat on a pop out to Wootson.
The Seminoles looked to end the stalemate in the home half of the fifth. Van der Linden laced a one-out triple to the warning track in center field putting the lead run 60 feet away from home. The Seminoles four and five hitters could not bring the run home though as FSU stranded its fifth base runner of the night.
The play of the game defensively came for FSU in the top of the sixth when UND catcher Mallorie Lenn laced a sure double to deep left field. Before the ball could slam into the fence Jacob tracked it down in a full sprint and reeled it in as it sailed over her shoulder on the warning track.
In the sixth, FSU mounted another threat to the Notre Dame lead. Wade led off with her second hit of the game, a single up the middle, and Booth then walked Katie Fricke on a 3-2 pitch. Back-to-back K’s brought Booth one out away from getting out of the sixth with the score still in tact and she did just that by inducing an infield pop up to strand two more FSU runners.
In the bottom of the seventh FSU once again put itself in position to win the game. A walk and an error put runners on first and second with nobody out. Booth got the first two outs of the inning bringing up FSU’s hottest hitter on the night in Wade. The senior sprayed a shot down the right field line that right fielder Nicole Wicks ran down and just corralled before it dropped in and won the game for the Seminoles.
In the top of the tenth UND got a one out single and a walk to put a runner in scoring position against Hunter who had held the Irish off the board for six straight innings. The FSU junior got the number five hitter looking at strike three for the second out and then ended the threat on a grounder to short.
The Tribe started the tenth off in style as Palmer doubled to deep center to put the game-winning run in scoring position with nobody out and Wade once again steeping into the batter’s box. The senior laid down a perfect sac bunt putting Palmer at third with just one out. Booth got the second out before Hoofer’s game-winning rip on a 2-1 pitch.
Friday marks the beginning of the 21st annual Florida State Invitational Tournament. Fifteen teams will descend on Tallahassee for the three-day event with games taking place at the Seminole Softball Complex and Messer Park. There is no admission charge for any of the games this weekend. For more information please visit the official athletic website for FSU at www.seminoles.com.