April 6, 2012
BLACKSBURG, Va. (seminoles.com) – The No. 21 Florida State University softball team fell to Virginia Tech in a back-and-forth affair, 11-5, on Friday evening at Virginia Tech Softball Park in Blacksburg, Va.
In what looked to be an impressive comeback for the Seminoles (33-8, 8-2) after trailing 4-0 through the first inning, a seven-run outburst by the Hokies (28-12, 7-2) in the sixth inning pushed them within ½ game of FSU for the top spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
FSU made a valiant effort in its comeback bid, using four runs in the fourth inning to take a 5-4 lead following Briana Hamilton’s seventh home run of the season. However, after a smooth start to the sixth inning in which starter Monica Perry (15-4) retired the first batter of the inning, the Hokies took advantage of a subsequent Seminole fielding error that opened the floodgates for the frame.
Following the error, Kristen Froehlich walked and Dani Anderson advanced on a passed ball. Betty Rose then stepped to the plate and drew an intentional walk to load the bases with one out and set up an easy force play at home plate. Pinch hitter Logan Spaw provided one of the biggest hits of the night when she hit a two-run blooper to right field to allow the Hokies to regain the lead at 7-6.
Later in the inning, the dagger occurred during Kylie McGoldrick’s at-bat as she lined a bases-clearing three-run triple to centerfield to put the game away. Virginia Tech’s seven runs in the frame were aided by just three hits.
The Seminole offense backed its pitching quite well with nine hits in 30 at-bats, outhitting Virginia Tech on the evening. Freshman Erika Leonard went 2-for-3 with her seventh double of the season, while junior Kirstin Austin continues to swing well from the No. 9 spot. Austin finished 2-for-3 with an RBI double and has now batted .379 over her last 13 games played. Friday was Austin’s second multiple-hit game of the year.
Shayla Jackson extended her hitting streak to seven games, going 1-for-4 with a single. FSU’s nine base hits were its most in a conference game this season.
Redshirt junior Monica Perry (15-4) took the loss after allowing seven runs in 5.1 innings of relief on five hits. Six of her seven runs allowed were unearned, only raising her ERA by a tenth to 1.22 for the season. Perry retired 13 of her first 14 batters faced before Virginia Tech found its rhythm in the sixth.
Tiffani Brown added one base hit and recorded two stolen bases to reach 32 for the season.
FSU appeared headed for a good start in the first inning, but ended up scoring no runs after having runners on first and second base with one out. Jackson’s single to centerfield and Maddie O’Brien’s walk gave hope for an early lead, but a strikeout and foul-out by the Seminoles diminished those thoughts as Virginia Tech escaped a minor jam.
A forgettable bottom half of the first inning for FSU included four runs on four hits for the Hokies. Lauren Gaskill led off the game with a single up the middle, and scored the game’s first run on a wild pitch. Three batters later, Kelsey Mericka hit a 1-2 pitch over the centerfield wall to extend the Virginia Tech lead to 3-0. Rose capped the scoring with an RBI double to centerfield, making it 4-0.
FSU started swinging the bats with efficiency with two outs in the second inning. Leonard lined a sharp double down the right field line, and Austin continued her steady hitting with a lining double over centerfielder Gaskill’s head to score Leonard and cut the deficit to 4-1.
A four-run fifth inning was the response the Seminoles needed, as Austin started the rally with a leadoff single to left center. Brown then followed with an infield single to the right side, and both runners ended up scoring on a Jackson groundout in which Virginia Tech first baseman Courtney Liddle’s throw to home plate was mishandled by catcher Betty Rose, resulting in both runs scored.
After Maddie O’Brien walked in the fifth with just one out, Hamilton lifted a 2-1 offering from starter Jasmin Harrell deep over the left field wall for her seventh home run of the season to give FSU the lead at 5-4. Harrell would exit the game allowing five runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings pitched.
Virginia Tech reliever Bailey Liddle (8-3) earned the win by pitching 2.2 shutout innings in relief.
The Seminoles will attempt to take two on Saturday as they face Virginia Tech in a doubleheader beginning at noon.