April 2, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Playing before a national audience on ESPNU, the 22nd-ranked Florida State University softball team made quite an impression on television as it defeated No. 23 North Carolina, 3-1, in front of nearly 700 fans at JoAnne Graf Field on Monday night.
With the Seminole Softball complex in Tallahassee being the debut spot for ESPNU’s ACC Monday Night Softball package, the Seminoles (33-6, 8-1) showed off their excellent pitching as starter Monica Perry (15-2) mowed down the Tar Heels (24-10, 3-3) for most of the night. The redshirt junior from Whitesburg, Ga., threw a complete game and struck out 11 while allowing just one run on six hits.
“Tonight was a big night for our program, and we had an energetic crowd that got behind Monica (Perry) and helped her through a big performance on national TV,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “Monica was a true workhorse for us tonight and made very smart pitches, and we provided her some important insurance runs that gave us a much-needed cushion.”
Perry’s outing marked her fourth double-digit strikeout performance this season, as her 11 K’s were tied for her second-most this season. Earlier in the year on March 4 in Honolulu, Perry struck out a season-best 13 versus nationally-ranked Hawaii, and also struck out 11 on Feb. 25 in a near-perfect game effort versus Marshall.
During her outing on Monday, Perry continuously hit her spots and often rattled UNC’s potent offense. The start of the game began inauspiciously for the Seminoles, as Perry allowed a leadoff double to Kelli Wheeler off the centerfield wall, but she managed to get out of the inning unscathed and helped set the tone for the rest of the game.
Helping Perry in the circle was an opportunistic bunch on the offensive end. With the first 2 ½ innings scoreless, FSU rode the momentum of junior Kirstin Austin’s key one-out RBI double to the left center gap to give FSU the lead at 1-0. Throughout the at-bat Austin stayed right with UNC starter Lori Spingola (18-8) on her pitches before connecting on a well-placed opposite field shot.
Like on Sunday in game one, FSU utilized UNC’s errors to its advantage. Before Austin’s at-bat, Erika Leonard hit a sharp grounder up the middle that slipped through the legs of centerfielder Amy Nece to allow Leonard to reach third base. With two outs in the inning, Shayla Jackson contributed with an important run-scoring single to right field to give FSU a 2-0 lead.
In the fourth inning, the Seminoles crossed the plate for an unearned run when Briana Hamilton attempted to advance to third base following a wild pitch strikeout by UNC. As Hamilton went to slide into the bag, first baseman Constance Orr’s ball was underthrown and skidded past third baseman Haleigh Dickey to score Hamilton and give FSU a 3-0 lead.
UNC’s only response was an RBI double down the left field line from Wheeler in the fifth to make it 3-1.
Tiffani Brown was consistent again at the plate, going 2-for-3 to extend her hitting streak to 11 games. FSU put together seven hits off Spingola, who took the loss after throwing six innings and allowing three runs with five strikeouts.
FSU’s series win over the Tar Heels is its first at home since 2004. The Seminoles are now 56-23 all-time versus UNC, and Alameda now owns 12 Top 25 victories as FSU’s head coach, including six versus the Tar Heels when they’ve been ranked.
The Seminoles are back home for a game against in-state rival and fourth-ranked Florida on Wednesday, April 4, at 6 p.m. The contest will air live on Sun Sports, and special gameday T-shirts as well as the team’s first set of trading cards will be given out.