May 14, 2004
Tallahasee, FL –
The fourth-ranked FSU softball team pounded out 11 hits and held off a seventh inning rally from No. 24 Georgia Tech (42-16) to advance into the winner’s bracket at the 2004 ACC Softball Championships with a 3-2 victory. Casey Hunter (31-3) didn’t allow an earned run as she struck out seven batters and issued just one walk in the Seminoles’ (55-9) victory. The win was FSU’s 14th of the season versus a top 25 squad.
Elisa Vasquez was the offensive star for FSU as she went 3-for-3 with a home run in the win. Back-to-back ACC Player of the Year Jessica van der Linden went 2-for-4 and also threw out a Tech runner at home to end the game. The win moves FSU into the winner’s bracket where they will face the North Carolina/Maryland winner at 3:00 p.m. Saturday.
“I think that was as good of a game as you will ever see,” said Dr. JoAnne Graf. “Georgia Tech played an awesome ballgame. Both teams did a good job. It was an unbelievable game that either team could have won. I am just thankful we came out the winner.
“This was a key win for us. If you win the first game, you can get some momentum and I think that is the case now. We did a good a good job getting that first win and hopefully that will help keep us rested. I thought our bats looked much better than they did last week and if we can keep scoring runs we will be OK.”
For Hunter it was her seventh straight win against an ACC team and she has now raised her streak of innings without an earned run to 58.1 as both runs versus the Yellow jackets come due to errors. Hunter has now allowed just two earned runs in her last 150.1 innings of work. With just one walk issued, it was also the 24th time in 2004 that Hunter has issued one or no walks in a game. She held Georgia Tech to just one hit through six innings before allowing two in the final frame.
“Georgia Tech is a good hitting team and you have to expect they will get some hits but this performance felt good,” said Hunter. “I felt like we started to get some momentum back and hopefully we can get on a roll.”
Georgia Tech put the pressure on Hunter right from the get-go. A walk and an error put runners on the corners with just one out for the Jackets. Liz Bartle then plated the first run of the game on a fielder’s choice as the throw home was not in time. Hunter recorded her first strikeout for the second out of the inning and then ended the top of the first on a foul out to third base.
“I wasn’t really too worried that they got a run in the first inning because I knew we could come back and get a run,” said Hunter. “We made a mistake that cost us but I trust my defense. I’m not a strikeout pitcher so I put them under a lot of pressure throughout a game. I think I wasn’t in control in the first and wasn’t hitting my corners like I would have wanted to.”
Florida State recorded a hit in the first but was unable to plate the run before opening the second with a solo home run. Vasquez sent a 0-1 offering from Georgia Tech starter Erin Voeltz (15-9) over the fence in left field evening the game at 1-1. The round tripper was the 40th of the year for FSU marking the first time in school history the Seminoles reached the 40 HR mark. The Tribe would later record a two-out hit by Kim Hoffer before LaShaun Davis drew a walk to put runners on first and second. Veronica Wootson followed with a single to load the bases but Voeltz shut down the rally on a foul out to third.
In the bottom of the third FSU once again threatened to take its first lead of the game. Lesley Palmer laced a one-out single off the fence in left and then Vasquez followed with her second hit, a single to right to put runners on the corners. Tatiana George brought the Seminole’s second run home as she chopped a grounder over the 6’0″ tall Tara Knudsen at shortstop.
The Seminoles extended their lead to 3-1 in the fourth thanks to a Georgia Tech miscue. LaShaun Davis started the frame with a bunt single and was moved to third on back-to-back bunts. van der Linden then sent a shot to second that was bobbled and allowed Davis to score as the All-America just beat out the throw at first. A walk and an infield single loaded the bases with two outs for the second time on the day for FSU but a foul out once again ended the threat and kept Georgia Tech within striking distance at 3-1.
All-ACC first baseman Beth Wade led off the fifth inning with a double to the gap in right field. Pinch runner Lena Sifen was then moved to third on a perfect sac bunt by Hoffer as the Seminoles searched for an insurance run but the Tribe couldn’t bring the run in stranding their 10th base runner of the game.
An error, a single and a sacrifice put Georgia Tech in business in the seventh as the Yellow Jackets put runners on second and third with two away. Kristin Kumar singled into center field as Tech looked to tie the game in its final at bat. Amy Hosier easily scored form third but van der Linden came up firing as Sara Wissman tried to score from second base. The senior All-America’s throw was right on the money and Vasquez applied the tag to end the game.
“I knew if I got the ball I was coming home regardless,” said van der Linden. “I knew if I was on the other team I would have tried to score. I was just trying to get the throw on a good hop to Elisa.”
“The throw was right there,” said Vasquez. “They are an aggressive running team so I knew they were going to send her and I just wanted to get the tag on her. All I was trying to do was get the tag and keep the game from being tied.”
Florida State is next in action at 3:00 p.m. when it faces the North Carolina/Maryland winner at the ACC Tournament May 15. For more information on the 2004 FSU softball team or the 2004 ACC Championship in Tallahassee please log on to the official athletic website of Florida State University at www.seminoles.com.