April 25, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – On a beautiful April day in Tallahassee, the No. 18 Florida State softball team swept a doubleheader against Virginia, 3-1 and 12-4 (6), in front of one of the largest crowds at JoAnne Graf Field this season. The pair of wins improves the Seminoles’ record to 37-13 and 13-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and extends their winning streak over the Cavaliers to nine straight as the visitors from Charlottesville slip to 25-19 and 2-14 in the league.
“We had a good crowd today and that’s always nice when you’re playing at home and when it’s senior weekend,” Florida State head coach Lonni Alameda said. “I think today was good for our momentum since we’ve had a lot of one-run ballgames. It’s nice to get those runs and have good base-running. I think this gives us a lot of confidence as we head into the ACC Tournament.”
Picking up win number 23 in the second game was junior Terese Gober (23-8) who gave up four earned runs on seven hits with an impressive 11 strikeouts. She is now averaging a 1.26 ERA with 186 punch outs this year.
In the higher-scoring second game, the Noles were out to an early 3-0 start after the first inning thanks to a Kaleigh Rafter two-RBI double to right center that scored Carly Wynn and Shayla Jackson. The senior would also score thanks to an RBI-single to center by Ashley Stager.
The Cavaliers made a solid effort in the second to take a slight 4-3 lead thanks to a two-RBI single from Sarah Tacke, an sacrifice fly from Lauren McCaskey and a solo home run to left center hit by senior Casey Steffan.
But the inning truly belonged to FSU as leadoff batter Brittany Joseph drew a walk, followed by a Wynn single that would put runners on first and second with no outs. Jackson would also pick up a single up the middle to load the bases as Rafter stepped up to the plate.
Wasting no time at all, the senior from Guelph, Ontario, took a mighty slice at the first pitch to send the ball nearly to the parking garage across the street in left field. The grand slam was the first for Rafter as a Seminole and her 10th home run of the season. She is now tied for fourth all-time at FSU for single-season homers.
“When I hit it I had a pretty good inclination that it had enough to get out,” Rafter said. “Before the pitch I was just thinking `get something deep, score a run.’ I was expecting an away pitch but she ended up throwing one inside and I just tried to get the barrel to it and I did.”
The last time a Nole recorded a grand slam was at last year’s ACC Tournament in game one against Boston College when then-senior Brittany Osmon picked one up in the bottom of the ninth to defeat the Eagles.
A few more runs would plate in the third to extend the lead to 9-4 for Florida State while Virginia was unsuccessful in what would be the final three innings as seven of 13 batters Gober faces would strike out.
In the bottom of the sixth, Jackson was on base on a fielder’s choice that sent Wynn to the dugout and would steal her sixth base of the year with Rafter at the plate. The Seminole catcher would fly out to left with designated player Courtney Rosen on desk. The junior drew a walk followed by a Stage RBI single hit hard at the shortstop who stood no chance at fielding the ball. Jackson would score as FSU would place runners on first and second.
A wild pitch from Cavaliers’ pitcher Stephanie Coates moved the runners into scoring position and both would score as senior Michelle Snyder’s hit to the left fielder would bobble out of her glove, ending the game an inning early with a 12-4 Florida State victory.
In the earlier game, the Seminoles took a 3-1 edge over the Cavaliers on four hits, one RBI and four Virginia errors. Florida State scored early in the first as junior Carly Wynn singled to the shortstop and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from freshman Shayla Jackson. Wynn would plate as the Cavaliers second baseman made a fielding error that allowed Ashley Stager to reach first safely.
The final two runs were also unearned and came in the bottom of the fourth. Snyder managed to steal home as sophomore Kristie McConn followed up a stolen base of her own with a score thanks to Joseph’s sacrifice fly to center.
Sophomore Sarah Hamilton recorded the win in game one and is now 14-5 this season. The Tallahassee native struck out 12 batters while giving up just one hit and one run, unearned. She continues to lead the pitching staff with a 0.99 ERA and 223 strikeouts.
The series will wrap up with a single game at Noon tomorrow as the three Seminole seniors are honored on Senior Day at JoAnne Graf Field.