March 9, 2012
The 22nd-ranked Florida State University softball team returns to JoAnne Graf Field for a weekend tilt with ACC opponent North Carolina State to begin conference play. FSU faces the Wolfpack (12-10) in a Saturday doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m., followed by a noon game on Sunday.
The Seminoles (17-3) face an important weekend of play after playing some good competition in their near week-long stay in Hawaii. FSU defeated UC Santa Barbara twice at the Bank of Hawaii Invitational Tournament, but also lost three one-run decisions versus No. 19 Hawaii (twice) as well as Radford.
Highlighting the weekend promotions is another youth day following this Sunday’s game. Between innings for the noon first pitch, several prizes will be raffled off including Louisville Slugger bat bags, bats, a Jessica Mendoza autographed bat and much more.
Last season, FSU defeated the Wolfpack in two of three games on the road in Raleigh to begin conference play. The Seminoles won the first game by a 3-2 score, but fell in the second contest 4-2. In the rubber game, FSU pulled through with a 7-2 victory following former player Robin Ahrberg’s two home runs.
“N.C. State provided a real test for us last season and this season they’ve already owned some impressive wins,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “They’ve always been well-coached and will be a good challenge for us to open conference play with.”
Overall, FSU leads the series by a 16-9 count. N.C. State has started its season in up-and-down fashion, owning a signature victory at nationally-ranked Georgia but also showing losses to Pitt, Kent State, Texas-San Antonio and College of Charleston.
One of the top hitters for the Wolfpack is junior Bethaney Wells, who has a team-leading four home runs and 22 RBIs. Senior shortstop Katie Mansilla leads N.C. State with a .365 batting average.
The Wolfpack have been steady in the circle, showing a 2.30 team ERA. Emily Weiman has a team-best 1.90 ERA but is 7-8 this season.
Despite No. 22 FSU finishing 2-3 at the Bank of Hawaii Tournament last week, what stood out to many was the tremendous pitching by redshirt junior Monica Perry, freshman Lacey Waldrop and freshman Bailey Schinella.
The three Seminole pitchers combined to allow just three earned runs in 28.2 innings pitched from March 2-4, spear-heading a formidable trio that is emerging as one of the nation’s best. The trio also combined for 40 strikeouts while surrendering just 12 base hits against UC Santa Barbara (2), No. 22 Hawaii (2) and Radford.
Redshirt freshman Maddie O’Brien broke out in a big way in FSU’s 13-4 mercy-rule win versus UC Santa Barbara on March 4. The Palm Harbor, Fla., native registered a season-high six RBIs and two home runs, including a walk-off three run-home run in the bottom of the sixth that gave the Seminoles the needed advantage to end the game.
O’Brien’s six runs driven in are the most by a Seminole since former player Kaleigh Rafter had six RBIs on April 25, 2009, versus Virginia.
For those who cannot make it out to JoAnne Graf Field this weekend, both games of Saturday’s doubleheader will be video streamed on Seminoles.com All-Access. As usual, every game can also be followed on both CBS GameTracker and on FSU softball’s official Twitter handle – @FSU_Softball.