May 21, 2000
LOS ANGELES –
The No. 24 Florida State softball team fell 7-1 to
No. 3 UCLA Sunday afternoon in the championship game of the Los Angeles
regional of the NCAA Tournament at Easton Stadium on the campus of UCLA.
The Lady Seminoles ended their season at 51-27 while the Bruins, with a
record of 43-11-1, advanced to the Women’s College World Series.
Florida State catcher Andi Lyons gave the Tribe a boost early, throwing out
UCLA batting and steals’ leader Natasha Watley in the first inning. With
one out, Watley beat out an infield single to reach base. She was caught
stealing as Lyons drilled the ball to FSU shortstop Natalie Bennett. It was
only the fifth time all season that Watley, who has 32 steals, had been
caught stealing. The play was also crucial as All-American Julie Adams came
up to the plate next and ripped a double down the left field line.
The UCLA defense also came up big in the first inning. FSU’s Serita
Brooks, who reached base on a walk, was on third base thanks to a sacrifice
and wild pitch. Brandi Stuart hit a shot to center field but the Bruins’
Crissy Buck made an impressive catch to end the inning.
It was more Lady Seminole defense in the UCLA second. With one on and two
out, Bennett made a diving catch in short left field, on a ball hit
ironically by Buck, to end a potential Bruin rally. In the third, however,
UCLA took advantage of a couple of FSU mistakes. With two on and two out,
the Bruins’ Julie Marshall hit a slow roller back at FSU pitcher Leslie
Malerich, who bobbled the ball and Marshall reached first base safely. In a
heads-up attempt, Malerich, seeing that the runner at third had over-run the
base, threw the ball to third baseman Becky Brock. Brock was off-balance
and fell back while throwing the ball and the run scored. UCLA’s Lyndsey
Klein, who was hitting .400 with four RBI in the regional, came up to the
plate and hit a three-run rocket over the left field fence on a 3-2 count
for her ninth home run of the year and gave the Bruins a 4-0 advantage.
The Bruins used the long-ball again to put three more runs on the
scoreboard in the sixth inning. With two outs and one run already across
the plate, UCLA’s Julie Marshall hit a two-run blast to center for her 11th
home run of the year.
The Tribe could not get anything going offensively off of UCLA standout
pitcher Amanda Freed, who pitched a one-hitter with five strikeouts.
Courtney Dale pitched the seventh inning and gave up one run on two hits
from Brandi Stuart and Teresa Edenfield, one walk to Becky Wallace, one
hit-by-pitch at Jackie Hirschfeld’s expense and committed an error to let
Lyons reach base. FSU had just four base runners through the first six
innings as Lyons reached on a walk and Brooks reached base three times with
a hit and two walks.
With the loss, Malerich ended her record-sophomore season at 35-15. She
struck out two while all four UCLA runs were unearned. Malerich tied the
FSU all-time single-season marks with 35 victories (Toni Gutierrez, 1992)
and 41 games started (Kristy Fuentes, 1997) and set a new school record for
appearances with 58. Brooks set new FSU single-season records for hits with
99 and at bats with 247.
“I think we came out ready to play and gave UCLA a great game for awhile,”
FSU Head Coach Dr. JoAnne Graf said. “Then they (the Bruins) broke it open
and used their experience to pull it out. They’re a good ball club and very
deserving of advancing to the College World Series. I am very proud of how
our team came out here and performed.”
FSU was well-represented on the all-tournament team as Brooks, Lyons,
Malerich and Staci Brandon all received honors.
WP: Amanda Freed (25-7), LP: Leslie Malerich (35-15)