May 20, 2005
AUBURN, Ala. – The Florida State softball team picked a good time to play its most competitive game of the season.
After dropping eight of the their last nine outings and squeezing into the NCAA Softball Championships with a 33-26 record, the Seminoles upset tournament host and 18th-ranked Auburn (49-27), 5-0, Friday evening at Jane B. Moore Field. In fact, it was Florida State’s first victory over a ranked team since defeating then-No. 25 Fresno State on February 26. By nights end, pitcher Casey Hunter threw a two-hitter, Natasha Jacob extended her hit streak to 21 games, and two players hit home runs for the Seminoles.
“This season has been a growing process for us,” said Dr. JoAnne Graf, who has taken her teams to 18 NCAA Championships, including six straight, “and I think we have come a long way. We have not played consistently this year, but tonight we came together and did. We are going to use this momentum to carry us through the rest of the weekend. We feel fortunate to have come out a winner in this game.”
Senior pitcher Casey Hunter was the gem for the Seminoles after dominating in the circle; she gave up no runs, two hits, two walks and retired eight Tiger batters. Hunter, who recorded her eighth two-hitter of the season, needs 18 more strikeouts to become Florida State’s all-time leader.
“I have been to four straight NCAA Softball Championships so I pretty much know what to expect,” said Hunter, who had a no-hitter going until the fourth inning. “Getting the lead is great for me, it makes my job a lot less stressful and it helps me relax. Once I realized that the offense was going to produce then I was able to relax and pitch my game.”
FSU accumulated nine hits and Jacob paced the Seminole offense with a 2-for-2 effort. Center fielder Tatiana George and sophomore second baseman Veronica Wootson were 1-for-4 with a home run each. George’s solo shot in the top of the fourth inning was the seventh of the season for the Fontana, Calif., native and it established a new individual career high.
The Seminoles tacked on runs in the top of the second, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. In the second, George reached base on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on a Brittany Osmon shot down the left side. Florida State’s first run of the game was recorded on the next play when the catcher threw down a ball that got past the shortstop and George raced to home plate for the 1-0 lead.
In the fourth, George led off with a home run to center field (2-0) and Wootson followed with a two-run bomb in the fifth inning for the 4-0 advantage. The Seminole touched home one last time in top of the sixth when sophomore LaShaun Davis led off with a double, stole third, and got home on an Osmon sacrifice fly to right field.
Florida State will play the winner of the Baylor/Florida A&M contest on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. (ET). Live stats and Internet radio will be available.
“I told the team that once you reach the post-season, it all starts over,” said Graf. “So far, we are 1-0 and I would like to keep the momentum. This game tonight was the first of many we need to win in this tournament.
The game was delayed for more than an hour in the second inning due to a combination of rain and lightning.
Florida State met Auburn for the second time in an NCAA game … The Tigers lost to the Seminoles, 2-1, in Tallahassee in 2002 … Auburn fell to 3-11-1 all-time against Florida State all-time.
Senior pitcher Casey Hunter had eight strikeouts against Auburn and is within 18 Ks (17 to tie) of becoming the all-time Florida State leader.
Left fielder Natasha Jacob extended her hit streak to 21 games after going 2-for-2.
Friday’s game marked the 17th time that the Seminoles shutout an opponent in NCAA Regional play. Last season, Florida State recorded three shutouts during its run to the Women’s College World Series.
Hunter has appeared in four straight NCAA Regionals and tallied her second win in post-season play. In 2004, she recorded a no-hitter against Long Island.
Tatiana George’s home run tonight established a new four-year career high for the center fielder. She now leads the Seminoles in home runs with seven on the season.
Hunter has pitched eight two-hitters on the season.
FSU is now 2-2 vs. Southeastern Conference schools on the season and 4-1 vs. teams at the Auburn Regional.
FSU is also 34-23 in NCAA Regionals.
With two home runs vs. Auburn, the Seminoles now have three multi-home run games in their last six appearances. They are now 4-1 on the season when hitting multiple home runs.
The win snaps a four-game losing streak dating back to game one of a doubleheader vs. BYU on May 6.
Hunter took a no-hitter in the fourth inning.