April 6, 2011
ORLANDO, Fla. (seminoles.com) – A chaotic ending to a pitcher’s duel resulted in a walk-off 2-1 victory for UCF as it defeated the Florida State University softball team on Wednesday evening at the UCF Softball Complex in Orlando, Fla.
With Sarah Hamilton (10-13) dominating the Knights (13-22) throughout the evening, UCF managed to pull some late-inning heroics after compiling just one hit off the senior right-hander through the first six innings. In the seventh frame, the Knights’ first two batters went down for the first two outs, but Vanessa Perez gave UCF life on a single up the middle.
From there, FSU’s one-run lead dwindled away. Patrice Fee laced a sharp double down the left field line, causing left fielder Kelly Hensley to chase it down after playing further away from the line. Hensley tried to make a slide toward the traveling ball to prevent it from getting past her, but ended up kicking it to the side to buy more time for a hustling Perez to advance home.
The following play, Tiffany Lane hit a grounder to Briana Hamilton at third base, whose throw to Jen Lapicki at first base was wide and pulled her off the bag. The ball ended up tipping off Lapicki’s glove and allowed Fee to score on a throwing error.
The difficult loss drops FSU to 2-10 this season in one-run games. Hamilton took another undeserving loss, scattering just three hits on just one earned run while striking out nine of her 27 batters faced.
The former Chiles High standout did not allow a hit through her first 4 2/3 innings pitched until allowing a single up the middle by Lane. Hamilton was dominant all evening, showing good command of all her pitches while mixing them up enough to keep the UCF offense guessing. Despite issuing four walks, she pounded the strike zone in every spot and did a good job of getting ahead of most of her batters in the count.
She now has 891 strikeouts for her established career, just nine shy of becoming the second Seminole in history to amass 900 strikeouts.
Ashley Stager led FSU with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate, driving in the lone run for the Seminoles. Tiffani Brown and Robin Ahrberg also had one hit apiece as both teams combined for just seven hits.
UCF starter Diana Rojas (5-7) earned the victory after allowing one run on four hits in seven innings pitched. She managed just one strikeout, which ties a season-low for the Seminoles, but was aided by FSU’s hitters swinging early in the count, which helped make the game last just 1 hour 34 minutes.
Stager’s two-out, first-pitch swing in the sixth inning fell just beyond the outstretched arms of diving second baseman Natalie Lane to give the Seminoles a 1-0 lead. The play looked to be enough in a pitching-dominated game until UCF pulled off the win in the seventh.
FSU was looking to put some early runs on the scoreboard in the second inning, but came away empty. Stager led off with a bunt single between the pitcher and catcher toward the first-base side, and Ahrberg then reached base on a fielding error by second baseman Land. However, the next three Seminole batters could not advance both runners and UCF ended the frame unscathed.
Stager’s run-scoring single was helped by the base running of Brown, who singled up the middle to lead off the sixth and then stole second base for her team-leading 17th of the season. She was then advanced to third base by Lapicki on a key groundout to the right side to set up Stager’s big hit.
FSU returns to ACC play with a three-game home series against Virginia this weekend. Saturday’s doubleheader begins at noon and features Military Day, while Sunday’s single game begins at noon.