May 21, 2011
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ATHENS, Ga. (seminoles.com) – In a day where there was a multitude of standout performances for the Florida State University softball team, it was pitcher Jessica Nori who stood out the most. The redshirt freshman from Weston, Fla., delivered two victories as FSU defeated Georgia State in game one, 6-1, and defeated UAB in the elimination game, 13-1, in six innings.
The two victories for the Seminoles (32-27) create the possibility of two matchups at No. 6 Georgia on Sunday afternoon. In order for FSU to move past the Athens Regional, it must defeat the Bulldogs twice tomorrow. Game one begins at noon, with the second game beginning at approximately 2:30 p.m. if necessary.
“I think we’ve been here before with our backs to the wall,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “It was a good opportunity to come out, put the ball and play and run the bases well. We played two very energetic ball clubs, and we are very excited to be able to come out and play on Sunday.”
Nori (8-5) combined to allow just one run in 9.1 innings pitched on the day. She stayed aggressive and attacked both the Panthers (36-25) and the Blazers (39-19) all day, allowing her defense to make several key plays in both games. Against Georgia State, she entered the game with the bases loaded in the fourth inning and induced a groundout to third base to preserve a 2-1 lead. She faced a similar situation two weekends ago against Georgia Tech, showing her poise by striking out one of the best hitters in the country in Kelsi Weseman.
Nori, who was a team manager for the Seminoles last season, finished the first game by allowing three hits and striking out two in the final 3.1 innings. Against UAB, she threw her third complete game of the season and allowed just four hits and one run. Prior to the seventh inning, Nori held the Blazers to just one hit before they added three more in the sixth inning after FSU took a commanding 13-0 lead.
FSU gave Nori plenty of run support today, combining for 19 runs and 22 base hits. Sophomore Tiffani Brown led the Seminoles by going 4-for-7 with two RBIs, and wreaked havoc on the basepaths by forcing rundowns that allowed her or other runners to advance bases. The Tallahassee native added three runs scored.
Ashley Stager was sound defensively, as the Trinity, Fla., native finished 3-for-6 with one home run. Stager hammered a two-strike offering down the left field line that scraped off the foul pole to give FSU a 3-0 lead against UAB. The round-tripper was Stager’s 10th of the season, becoming the first Seminole to record double-digit home runs since former player Kaleigh Rafter amassed 11 in 2009.
Shayla Jackson, Robin Ahrberg, Kristie McConn, Courtney Senas and Jen Lapicki also ended the day recording multiple hits. FSU batted .349 (22-for-63) in both contests combined, while UAB and Georgia State combined to go 8-for-44.
A large milestone was attained in the first game, as senior pitcher Sarah Hamilton reached the 1,000 strikeout mark when she caught Audrey Mason looking in the second inning on a changeup. She finished with seven strikeouts in 3.2 innings pitched before Nori relieved her.
In game one, McConn’s hard-fought at-bat resulted in FSU’s first run of the tournament, as the Broken Arrow, Okla., native hammered a full-count offering from Alana Thomas (9-11) to right center to plate Ahrberg from second base, making it 1-0. The Seminoles manufactured the run, as Morgan Bullock sacrificed Ahrberg to second base on a bunt before McConn stepped up with the big two-out extra-base hit.
In that same inning, Senas hit a chopper that shortstop Paige Nowacki mishandled, allowing McConn to score from second base and add to the lead. McConn rounded third base on the play and very well could have been thrown out, but catcher Maddy Stanton could not haul in Nowacki’s throw as McConn made a nifty hand slide to avoid the tag.
Georgia State threatened to score its first run in the third inning when its first two batters reached base. A fielder’s choice by Jessica Clifton resulted in a force out at third base with two runners still on and one out. On a full-count pitch, Brenna Morrissey hit a short one-hopper to Brown, who touched third base and threw Morrissey out at first base for a big double play. FSU was benefited by turning four doubles play today, including three against UAB in the second game.
FSU took charge against UAB starter Leigh Streetman (16-9) in game two, avenging a loss against the right-hander yesterday. Ahrberg and Bullock recorded consecutive RBI singles to put FSU ahead early, and a four-run fourth inning extended the Seminole lead to 7-0.
In the sixth frame, FSU piled on six runs. The scoring included a pinch-hit two-run single by Briar Stanley and an RBI single by Amber Bryant. The inning also included a stretch of six consecutive players reaching base.
Follow all of Sunday’s action on CBS GameTracker off the Seminoles.com softball page for up to date coverage.