May 10, 2012
Chapel Hill, NC – Last year the Seminole softball team captured the ACC crown as the underdog. This year the Seminoles are the No. 2 seed and ranked 19th in the nation, either way the goal is the same and that is to bring home the championship. FSU (46-13) took the first step towards that goal with a convincing 6-2 win over NC State (23-31) in the opening round of the 2012 ACC Softball Championship.
Florida State set an ACC Tournament record by drawing 13 walks and used a five-run first inning to advance to the semifinals versus Georgia Tech Friday at 1:00 p.m. Redshirt junior Monica Perry (21-5) was nearly perfect in the circle and redshirt freshman Maddie O’Brien drove the offense with three RBI.
“It’s nice to get a win and jump out in the first inning and score some runs,” said head coach Lonnie Alameda. “It’s one of those games you’d like to finish off early but NC State hung around and it went seven. We got the jitters out and I think we are ready to roll.”
Perry got the start for the Seminoles in the circle and went five innings allowing just two hits. The Whitesburg, GA native struck out three and issued just one walk. Perry extended her scoreless innings streak versus the Wolfpack to 16 innings this year as she allowed just five hits and struck out 10 versus NC State in 2012.
“NC State is a very solid team. I just thought I was hitting my spots well today,” said Perry. “The defense really did a great job behind me. They turned a big double play and I felt I got a little bit lucky there. That makes it easier on me.
“Getting a big lead like our offense provided today takes a lot of pressure off the pitching staff. After you get a five-run lead I feel like I can just go out there and pitch my game and not worry about throwing a bad pitch that might tie the game or give up the lead. It helped me to go out there and hit my spots knowing if something does drop in that’s alright because we still have a lead.”
The Seminoles recorded just six hits but one was a two-run blast in the first from O’Brien. The Palm Harbor, FL native drove in three runs in the game and hit .444 with seven RBI this season against the Wolfpack.
“There isn’t anything different about playing NC State that has allowed me to have success,” said O’Brien. “It is just about looking for your pitch and when you get that pitch driving it. We have to continue to step it up. It wasn’t our best game offensively. If we want to win this whole thing we have to step it up when we have opportunities.”
Florida State got off to a good start in the first thanks to NC State walks and the long ball. Two Wolfpack pitchers combined to walk five batters and give up a two-run homer and a two-run double to dig themselves an early hole. When all was said and done the Seminoles put up five runs on three hits in the bottom of the inning with two coming on O’Brien’s home run.
“Shayla (Jackson) did a good job getting things started in the first by getting on base,” said O’Brien. “I was just trying to move her around or drive her in with a single or double. I was just trying to make contact. I got that outside pitch I was looking for and I just hit it hard.”
Despite piling up the walks, the Seminoles were unable to add to their lead until the bottom of the fifth. O’Brien picked up her third RBI of the game when she drew a bases loaded walk to push the Seminoles sixth run across the plate.
“We had two other innings where we loaded the bases and we left 12 runners on base so we need to do a better job of capitalizing on those situations to win this tournament,” said Alameda. “When you play good teams you have to take advantage of those situations.”
Waldrop and Jessica Nori locked down the victory for FSU with Nori picking up her fourth save. Nori came into the game with a 0.54 ERA in 16 relief appearances and needed just two pitches to record the final out of the game after NC State brought the tying run to the plate with the bases loaded in the seventh.
“I thought Monica did a good job of mixing speeds today and it was nice to see Lacy (Waldrop) come in and do some things and then Jessica closed it out when they had the ACC Freshman of the Year (Renada Davis) at the plate,” said Alameda.
Florida State will look to get back to the championship game for the fourth time in Alameda’s four seasons as the Seminoles coach when they take on the Yellow Jackets Friday. The game will be shown live on RSN and fans in Tallahassee can also follow the semifinal game on their phones and tablets via the Watch ESPN app or online on ESPN3.