March 16, 2004
Tallahassee, FL –
Even with a trip to California lingering just a day away, the third-ranked softball team didn’t lose its focus Tuesday night. The Tribe (31-3) completed a doubleheader sweep of Troy State (14-15) with a 6-2 win in the second half of the twin bill. The victory was the 12th straight win for FSU and the team will leave for California Wednesday morning in the midst of one of the hottest streaks in recent memory.
National player of the week Jessica van der Linden (15-2) was masterful on the hill as she allowed just one hit and two unearned runs while striking out 11 Trojan batters. Beth Wade continued to come through with big hits as her bases loaded triple provided the difference in the team’s 31st victory of the season. Both Natasha Jacob and Carly Brieske had multi-hit games.
“I was a little worried about tonight because Troy State is a very good team and we just got through a tough week and played a lot of games. With a trip to California coming and a homecoming for so many of our players, I wasn’t sure we’d be focused enough tonight,” said head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf. “I was glad to see this team come out and once again perform well and they showed me that they respected a good Troy State team by playing up to their capabilities. We are in a pretty good groove right now and hopefully that will continue at a great tournament like the Kia Klassic.”
After not scoring in the first inning, FSU broke out in the bottom of the second. Designated player Katie Fricke started the rally with a two out single through the left side bringing up center fielder Brieske. The sophomore came a couple feet away from homering as she doubled off the fence in deep center field scoring Fricke and staking FSU to a 1-0 lead.
van der Linden was cruising into the top of the third as she had six strikeouts and four consecutive K’s before uncharacteristically issuing back-to-back walks. With just one out, TSU looked to get back into the game and put together a rally. Number two hitter Stacy Dwyer was unable to advance the runners though as she popped out to shortstop Kim Hoffer. The Tribe looked to be out of the inning as Tamara Howren blasted a shot to deep center field. Brieske did a great job of getting in position on the hard hit ball but she dropped the ball as she seemed to slip on the warning track. The error cost FSU two runs and the Seminoles moved into the third trailing 2-1.
In the home half of the third FSU looked to at least even the game. LaShaun Davis had a great at bat to start the inning as she fell down 0-2, fouled off a handful of pitches and then pulled out a walk. Veronica Wootson followed with another hit as the freshman sensation drove a high pitch into left field. Jacob then loaded the bases as she beat out a throw on an attempted sac bunt. With the sacks full and nobody out, FSU sent All-American van der Linden to the plate. The senior drilled a bouncer to short and Davis beat the force play at home to tie the game 2-2. Trojan starter Michelle Grinage (5-7) got her first out of the frame on her third K of the night. Troy State got one out away from getting out of the third with minimal damage as TSU recorded the second out on a force at home then ended the inning on a pop up to second.
In the fourth FSU tried to take advantage of a Troy State error. The Seminoles opened the inning with a bunt single by Hoffer and Davis followed with a slap down the right field line. The Tribe was unable to score the run though as a foul out and a run down between first and second resulted in a double play before Hoffer touched home.
van der Linden opened the fifth with her fourth walk of the game, which was the most issued by the senior all season long. As she always does, the veteran fought back to get the next three batters to end the fifth and didn’t issue another walk the rest of the way.
The Tribe then put the game away in the fifth as Jacob led off with a single into right field and van der Linden followed with a bouncer up the middle to put runners on first and second with nobody out. A walk to Palmer loaded the bases with still no outs in the inning. Wade stepped into the box and promptly unloaded the bases as she tripled into the gap in right field putting FSU in front 5-2. Designated player Katie Fricke sent a shot to deep center that Troy State was able to handle but it was good enough to score pinch runner Carey Galuppi from third base with FSU’s sixth run of the night.
Florida State returns to action this weekend as they travel to Fullerton, CA for the prestigious Kia Klassic Tournament. The Tribe opens play Thursday, March 16, 2004 versus No. 24 Arizona State and then turns around and plays No. 20 Nebraska. The Seminoles conclude pool play versus UNLV Friday., March 17. The game versus the Running Rebels will be available via Game Tracker exclusively at www.seminoles.com.