May 3, 2011 - by
FSU Faces No. 4 Gators

May 3, 2011

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. ( – After nearly 10 days from its last game due to final exams, the Florida State University softball team returns to the field in an important matchup at No. 4 Florida on Wednesday, May 4, at 5 p.m. at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.

The contest between the two rivals will air live on Fox Sports Florida in the South Florida region only, due to the conflicting Tampa Bay Lightning playoff game. FSU fans in North Florida can catch the game on tape delay on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Florida, as well as on Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. on Sun Sports. Larry Vettel and Kristina Hilberth will be on the call.

For any FSU fans in the Gainesville/Ocala region, the game can be seen live on Cox Channel 21.

“Wednesday provides a big opportunity for our ballclub,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “Going down to Gainesville is always a challenge because of the talent of their team and the atmosphere that we face. We have been playing much better as of late and hope to come away with a great nonconference victory.”

FSU looks to capitalize on playing its second top five opponent this season, having already faced then-No. 2 ranked Alabama earlier this season in Tuscaloosa. One of FSU’s best wins this year came against another Southeastern Conference opponent in Kentucky, defeating the 16th-ranked Wildcats by a 2-0 score on Feb. 19 behind some excellent pitching from hurler Sarah Hamilton.

The Gators (43-8, 18-7) hold a 14-13 edge over FSU in the all-time series that dates back to 1997. FSU, however, has not defeated its in-state foe since winning both games in the 2006 season, carrying a seven-game losing streak.

The Seminoles (26-23, 8-9) will look toward Hamilton to help snap the aforementioned streak. The Tallahassee native has already attained the most career strikeouts in school history, and is eyeing the 1,000th K mark as she shows 963 punchouts over her four-year career. With likely four starts remaining this season, including ACC Championship play, and possibly more in the postseason, Hamilton has a chance to place herself in a category of her own.

According to the latest national rankings, Hamilton is 20th in the nation with 247 strikeouts, 21st with 9.2 strikeouts per seven innings and 25th with just 4.59 hits allowed per seven innings.

FSU has played some of its best softball toward the end of the season, winning eight of their last 10 contests. At the plate, the Seminoles have averaged nearly six runs per game during that span, and have gotten a boost from both Hamilton (5-2, 0.83 ERA) and redshirt freshman Jessica Nori (3-0, 1.17 ERA).

On the offensive end, junior Shayla Jackson and sophomore Morgan Bullock have provided good plate appearances in the batting order. Jackson is 18-for-37 in her last 10 games, and is batting .348 with one home run, 13 doubles, three triples, 26 RBIs and 78 total bases this season. She is also the 15th toughest player to strike out in the nation, fanning just once every 26.8 at-bats.

Bullock has been productive as well, going 13-for-27 in her last 10 games with six RBIs, two doubles, nine runs scored and four multiple-hit performances.

Florida is among the most potent offensive units in the nation, leading the NCAA with nearly two home runs per game (1.96) and a .619 slugging percentage. The Gators average nearly eight runs per game.

Junior shortstop Megan Bush is third in the nation with 20 home runs, while freshman Brittany Schutte is ninth with 17 round-trippers. Bush is also second nationally with 1.41 RBIs per game and third with 0.39 home runs per game.

UF is batting .336, with six starters batting above .300. Michele Moultrie shows a .441 average, while Kelsey Bruder is hitting .405 with 16 home runs and 60 RBIs.

The combination of pitchers Hannah Rogers and Stephanie Brombacher make up one of the best starting duos in collegiate softball. Rogers is 27-5 with a 1.67 ERA, 162 strikeouts in 193 innings pitched and is holding opponents to a .193 batting average. Brombacher is 16-1 with a 0.96 ERA and has recorded six shutouts in 19 games started.

Following Wednesday’s game, FSU concludes its regular-season with another challenging matchup at 17th-ranked Georgia Tech this weekend.

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