March 13, 2006
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
There’s something about this year’s Florida State softball team that keeps it fighting until the last out has been recorded. For the second time in four days, the Seminoles rallied late in the ball game, this time using a two-run seventh inning for a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over No. 25 North Carolina in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams on Monday (March 13).
Florida State improved 19-9 on the year, 1-0 in the league, as it won its 14th ACC opener in 15 years of conference play. North Carolina dropped to 19-7 overall, 0-1 in the loop.
“I felt like we were hitting well the whole game, they were just making good plays and balls were going right at their defenders,” FSU head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf said. “I was hoping with the last at-bat that we could get something going. The bottom of the order came through and got some key hits when we needed them.”
Getting her fourth-straight victory was right-hander Tiffany McDonald (Belfair, Wash.) as she improved to a league-best 12-5 on the year. The sophomore threw her ACC-leading 12th complete game, giving up just one unearned run on three hits with six strikeouts and one walk. UNC starter Lisa Norris took the loss, dropping her to 7-2 on the year.
For six and a half innings it looked like the one unearned run was all the Tar Heels would need for victory. Florida State was out-hitting North Carolina 4-3 and had several scoring opportunities but couldn’t get the tying run across. Keeping the Seminoles in the game was McDonald as she retired 20 of the last 24 batters she faced after giving up one run in the opening frame.
“Tiffany did a fantastic job,” Graf noted. “That’s a big ACC win for her and we’re really happy for her. Really the only run they scored we made two errors on so I felt like we gave them that run.”
Down to its last at-bat, first baseman Kim Hoffer (Houston, Texas) started the Seminoles’ seventh-inning rally with a one-out single. Catcher BillieAnne Gay (Tallahassee, Fla.) poked a single to right-field in her only at bat of the game as she came in during the sixth inning.
Pushing the first run across was rookie third baseman Michelle Snyder (Wenatchee, Wash.) as her single to left field scored Hoffer with the tying run and put Gay on third with the go-ahead marker. Snyder and Melissa Wood (Lilburn, Ga.) posted a team-best two hits. All-America candidate Natasha Jacob (Coppell, Texas) lifted a 2-1 offering from Norris into the left field to score Gay with the winning run.
“This is part of our learning process,” Graf added. “These kinds of games give us the confidence that we can win the close ones and come from behind. The more you continue to improve like that, the more it’s going to help us as the season goes along.”
Florida State and North Carolina continue their three-game set on Tuesday (March 13) in a 4 p.m. doubleheader.