May 16, 2003
Gainesville, FL –
The season came to an abrupt end for the 10th-ranked Florida State softball team (46-11) Friday morning. After winning 27 straight games, FSU lost back-to-back games at the NCAA Region 4 Championship as they were eliminated from postseason play by sixth-seeded Oregon State (33-30) 2-1. The loss ended the Seminoles’ run of three straight regional finals.
“We are really disappointed. This is not the way we wanted to end our season,” said head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf. “No offense to Gainesville but we wanted to end it in Oklahoma City. I thought our defense and pitching were great but our hitting wasn’t there. When you don’t hit you can’t win ball games. We didn’t do that this weekend. We picked a bad time.
“This was a great season for us and I am proud of the kids. We had a great run winning 27 straight games and taking home the ACC Championships. We will learn from this and start again next year.”
The loss was the first for starter Casey Hunter (27-6) since March 14 when she lost to Louisiana-Lafayette at the KIA Klassic. The sophomore had reeled off 15 straight victories heading into the tournament but held the Beavers without a run after a shaky first inning.
“Casey did a great job today just like Jess (van der Linden) did a great job yesterday,” said Graf. “I don’t think we lost because of our pitching. It came down to not executing at the plate.”
The Seminoles made Oregon State starter Monica Hoffman (23-14) work in the first but the Beaver ace got the best of the Tribe as she struck out the side and put just one runner on via a walk. OSU started off the home half of the first with a slap single to short. The southpaw got the next two hitters before an infield single and a diving stab by Brandi Stuart put runners on the corners but kept OSU off the scoreboard. The shutout didn’t last long though as the next hitter Vanessa Iapala singled up the middle plating two runs for Oregon State.
“I always have problems starting off the game I guess due to nerves. I just wasn’t hitting my spots,” said Hunter.
“I think you worry about the first inning of every game,” said Graf. “They got a couple off us early but in a game like this we should have scored more. We started off being able to hit but we just couldn’t score the runs.”
Hoffman, working with a 2-0 lead, got the first two hitters before Lesley Palmer reached on an error. FSU tried to rally as Shundra Colzie singled to short to put runners on first and second with two down but Hoffman got Natasha Jacob looking at strike three to end the threat. Hunter made quick work of OSU in the bottom of the second setting down the Beavers in order.
For the first time FSU went down in order as Hoffman got the Tribe 1-2-3 in the top of the third. The Beavers went right back to work in the home half of the inning as Clare Burnum reached again this time on a free pass. She was wiped off the bases moments later though as she was called out for leaving early. Hunter then got the next two batters to retire the side.
Florida State put its lead-off hitter on in the fourth as Elisa Vasquez reached on OSU’s second error. Stuart then sacrificed her to second Hoffman before striking out Beth Wade looking for the second out. The hurler came within one strike of getting out of the inning before 2003 ACC Tournament MVP Lesley Palmer singled to right driving home FSU’s first run of the tournament. Shundra Colzie came up with another FSU hit putting runners on first and second as the Tribe tried to even the game. Pinch hitter Carly Brieske wasn’t able to get a run home as the Beavers came to the plate in the bottom of the fourth with their lead cut in half.
Hunter, with some great help from her defense, set OSU down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fourth highlighted by a ranging stab by Jacob in left field and a stellar play on a high chopper by Stuart at second.
Shandra Colzie led off the fifth with her first hit of the game, an infield single to second. She was sacrificed to second by Tatiana George but Hoffman once again got a key out as she fanned Jessica van der Linden for the second out. After walking Elisa Vasquez on four straight pitches, Stuart came to the plate looking for her first hit in the NCAA’s. Just as she did versus van der Linden, Hoffman struck out a huge batter as she retired Stuart swinging moving the 2002 first team All-American to 0 for 6 with three Ks in the regional.
The Beavers looked for some insurance in the bottom of the sixth as they put the first two hitters on base via a single and an error. With nobody out and the heart of the OSU order coming up, the Beavers put themselves in great position as they sacrificed the runners to second and third. After an intentional walk loaded the bases, Hunter moved one out from getting out of the jam as she caught Vanessa Iapala looking at strike three. She ended the sixth on the next pitch as Hunter fielded a shallow pop up to the circle.
With FSU down to possibly the last three outs of its season, the first two batters couldn’t get anything going versus Hoffman. With FSU one out away from elimination, George worked a 3-1 count off the Oregon State starter before her liner was snared to end the game.
For more information on the 2003 ACC Softball Champions, please log on to seminoles.com, the official home for Florida State athletics on the internet.