April 2, 2011
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Powered by strong pitching performances from Sarah Hamilton and Jessica Nori, the Florida State University softball team nearly came away with a doubleheader sweep on Saturday afternoon. Instead, it settled for a split against Virginia Tech, winning game one, 1-0, before falling in 10 innings in game two, 2-1.
“We competed for all 17 innings, but it was difficult to lose that second game,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “I thought our pitching today was outstanding with Sarah and Jessica in the circle. Both girls threw real well today and helped make both games what they were – pitchers’ duels. We always know we’re in for a battle when we play Virginia Tech, and that’s what both of today’s games were. We’re going to keep a positive approach and hopefully come out tomorrow with a big series win.”
Hamilton (10-12) pitched a brilliant first game, throwing her fourth shutout of the season in a complete game three-hitter. Hamilton struck out 10 batters, her third double-digit strikeout performance this season as well as her third-most this year. In six of her seven innings pitched, Hamilton struck out at least one batter, picking her spots and pounding the strike zone all afternoon.
The game-winning blast in game one came off the bat of senior Jen Lapicki, who launched a tape-measure solo shot to left field with one out in the sixth inning. Altogether, FSU produced five hits off Virginia Tech ace Jasmin Harrell (13-3), with Lapicki producing two of those hits. Senior shortstop Ashley Stager had FSU’s other extra-base hit off Harrell, hitting a double in the fourth inning.
Tiffani Brown led off the bottom of the first with an infield single, then advanced to second base on a groundout by Shayla Jackson. Two batters later, Lapicki hit a sharp liner to right field that was snagged by outfielder Marra Hvozdovic to prevent a run-scoring play.
With one out in the third frame, Morgan Bullock hit a hard single up the middle that bounced off Harrell’s glove. Brown pushed Bullock to second base on a groundout, then the Dacula, Ga., native reached third base on a wild pitch. Jackson ended the scoring threat with a groundout to the shortstop.
Another opportunity fizzled for FSU in the fourth inning. With one out, Lapicki singled up the middle and was moved to third base after Stager doubled off Harrell’s leg, with the ball landing toward the Virginia Tech dugout to put two runners in scoring position. However, FSU’s next two hitters were struck out as another chance was wasted for the Seminoles (17-18, 3-5).
Following Lapicki’s fifth home run of the year in the bottom of the sixth, Hamilton induced three consecutive groundouts to give the Seminoles a key win in game one.
In game two, starter Jessica Nori earned a no decision but had another fine start for the Seminoles. She stayed aggressive toward the Virginia Tech hitters, barely wasted any of her pitches, and allowed just one run on four hits in six innings pitched. Her low pitch count also makes her a viable option to get some time in the circle for Sunday’s rubber-game matchup.
Game two lasted 2 hours 45 minutes as FSU played its second 10-inning contest of the season, falling on the wrong end once again. The Seminoles are now 0-3 in extra inning games this season.
Brown led FSU on offense in the second game, going 2-for-5. Freshman Courtney Senas also had a pair of singles to give the Seminoles a boost at the sixth spot.
FSU started the scoring as Lapicki hit a fielder’s choice to second baseman Bkaye Smith that scored Brown from third base. Smith opted to throw home instead of getting the sure out at first base with one out, as a hustling Brown beat the tag to put FSU on top in the first inning at 1-0.
With one out in the seventh, Nori was replaced by Hamilton after surrendering a leadoff double to Dani Anderson. Hamilton came in and walked Betty Rose to put two runners on, then forced a foul pop-out and a lineout to come within one out of a save and a doubleheader sweep. However, Ashton Ward hit an RBI single to left field as Bullock’s relay from the outfield fell way short of home plate.
Both teams continued to struggle offensively for the majority of the extra innings, but the Hokies (27-9, 5-3) found some life in the top of the 10th when Ward led off with a double to left field.
Two batters later, Smith hit a slow-rolling single to Hamilton, and Richelle McGarva brought in the winning run on a sharp fielder’s choice to Kristie McConn at second base, who decided to throw to home plate instead of trying for what would have been a difficult double play. The throw and tag did not beat Ward, and FSU failed to score in the bottom half as it settled for a difficult split.
The rubber game occurs on Sunday with a noon start time at JoAnne Graf Field. After the game, there will be a home run derby that fans can register for while at the game.