March 6, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – The Florida State University softball team produced 18 hits in 12 innings of play as it defeated Utah, 7-3, and Wisconsin, 9-0 (5), on Sunday afternoon in the conclusion of the Big Ten/Mountain West/ACC Challenge at JoAnne Graf Field.
“Today was a big day for us, in terms of getting our momentum and confidence going,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “We got two strong pitching performances, were able to do a ton of good things on the bases and produced plenty of runs offensively in both games. We’ve got a tough slate ahead of us next week and will need to do the little things like we did today in order to come out on top.”
The Seminoles (12-8) earned a comeback victory over the Utes (8-13) in the first game, trailing 3-0 through three innings before tallying four runs in a critical fifth inning. Sophomore Briana Hamilton, freshman Kelly Hensley and junior Shayla Jackson produced two base hits apiece as FSU pounded out 10 base hits as a unit.
The key point against Utah came in the fifth when Robin Ahrberg stepped to the plate with FSU trailing 3-2 and the bases loaded. On a full-count offering by Generra Nielson (7-9), the fifth-year senior showed her poise by hitting a two-run single to left field to provide the game-winning base hit.
The next inning, Hensley hit a two-run double the opposite way to right center to expand the FSU lead to 6-3. Later, Tiffani Brown reached first base on an errant throw by pitcher Naomi Amu, scoring pinch runner Kirstin Austin from third base.
Morgan Bullock (5-1) earned her second win in as many days after throwing a complete game and allowing three runs and two walks with four strikeouts. She helped strand nine Utes and worked her way out of various situations with runners in scoring position, showing her calmness in the circle. The Dacula, Ga., native now has three complete games this season.
Nielson took the loss for the Utes after allowing five runs on seven hits in five innings pitched. Reliever Joni Cook followed with two runs given up without recording an out, and Amu pitched the final inning without allowing a run.
FSU won the second game against the Badgers (5-5) in a five-inning mercy rule affair. The Seminoles scored in four of their five innings played, and stole a season-high seven bases to create better run-scoring opportunities. For the season, FSU has now stolen 36 bases in 37 attempts.
Senior pitcher Sarah Hamilton (5-5) earned a win against Wisconsin after giving up just one hit and striking out seven. It is the first one-hitter by Hamilton since she achieved the same feat on March 27, 2010, against Boston College.
Hamilton became the fifth pitcher in school history to amass 800 strikeouts in a career, now sitting in fifth-place all-time with 804. The Tallahassee native retired 15 of her 20 batters faced, with her only hit coming in the top of the fourth when she tried to make a play on a roller that would have been fielded by shortstop Ashley Stager.
Jackson became the only FSU player to record multiple hits in both games, going 2-for-2 with two RBIs and a run scored against the Badgers. Stager finished 2-for-3 with a run scored, and FSU did not record an extra base hit in the second contest as it relied on its base running abilities to bring home runs.
FSU begins a six-game trip away from home, beginning with a matchup at No. 24 Auburn at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 8. FSU then faces Penn State in Auburn on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET, followed by a four-game trip to the University of Alabama for the Easton SEC/ACC Challenge in Tuscaloosa.
Follow all of the FSU softball action next week on CBS GameTracker, as well as through updates on Twitter – @FSU_Softball.