March 1, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The No. 9-ranked Florida State softball team split of its two games on day two of the Easton Crimson Classic. The Seminoles defeated Purdue, 4-1, in the opener and fell to host school No. 11 Alabama in a tight 1-0 affair.
“I’m really proud of the way our team fought and competed today,” said head coach Lonni Alameda. “We faced challenges at the plate and in the field from a quality Alabama team and we stuck together as a family through it all. We had several opportunities to get some runs, but they made some great defensive plays. I’m glad we only have to wait until tomorrow to play them again.”
Florida State opened the scoring against Purdue with two runs in the second behind erratic pitching by Boilermaker starter Alex Whittemore. Twelve straight balls out of the strike zone to Victoria East, Ellie Cooper and Celeste Gomez loaded the bases for Briana Hamilton. Hamilton would be hit by the first pitch she saw to drive in an RBI.
Two batters later, Tiffani Brown would slap an infield single to the shortstop to drive another run to make it 2-0 Florida State after the second.
FSU would plate another run in the third by loading the bases with three singles by O’Brien, Schinella and Cooper. Gomez would drive a shot into the gap in right center but a diving snag by center fielder Andie Varsho resulted in simply a sacrifice fly.
O’Brien led off the fifth and crushed a 1-0 pitch deep over the right field wall for her eighth home run of the season. She now has 31 RBI on the season which is nearly twice what all opponents have managed against FSU this season (16).
Jessica Burroughs earned the win with another solid outing for the `Noles. She allowed only three hits, three walks and one run in her 4.1 innings of work to go along with three strikeouts. The redshirt freshman is now 8-0 on the season with a 1.35 ERA.
Purdue would get a run in the fifth as Burroughs allowed a single and a walk before being replaced by Jessica Nori. A fielder’s choice and a pair of Seminole fielding errors allowed the Boilermakers to push across their only run of the game.
Nori continued her scoreless innings streak by pitching the final 2.2 innings without surrendering a run to get her third save of the season. Nori now has eight career saves which is tied with Sarah Hamilton (2008-11) and Tiffany McDonald (2005-07) for the most in program history.
The matchup of two top-11 teams was everything you would expect as the game was scoreless until the fifth inning when Alabama’s Kaila Hunt hit a solo home run over the wall in left.
That would prove to be the difference as starting pitchers Lacey Waldrop and Alabama’s Jaclyn Traina locked into an epic pitcher’s duel with their defenses also making plays behind them. Waldrop finished with 6.0 innings pitched, surrendering only one walk, one run and six hits to go with nine strikeouts. It marked the sixth straight game where Waldrop has recorded eight or more strikeouts in a game.
Traina pitched well for Alabama in the circle. The senior scattered four hits and five walks in her 7.0 innings of work without giving up a run. She finished with nine strikeouts in the game.
FSU had several opportunities but just couldn’t find a way to push the runs across the plate. The Seminoles left 10 runners on base throughout the course of the game including leaving the bases loaded two different times. Alabama would take the bat out of O’Brien’s hands with intentional walks in both the fifth and seventh innings as the `Noles were starting to mount a rally.
The loss to Alabama ended a 17-game winning streak for the Seminoles dating back to the season-opening loss to Nebraska. It was tied for the ninth-longest streak in program history and the first time FSU had won 17 games in a row since winning 27 straight from March 22 to May 11, 2003.
The `Noles wrap up the tournament with one final game on Sunday against the Crimson Tide at 1:30 p.m. CT.
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