March 11, 2011
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (seminoles.com) – The Florida State University softball team suffered a difficult loss on Friday evening, losing to Mississippi State, 9-8, in 10 innings in a near-three hour game that took place at Rhoads Stadium as part of the Easton SEC/ACC Challenge.
The Seminoles (12-10) let a 7-2 lead slip away in the seventh inning, allowing the Bulldogs (11-10) to score five runs in the frame – including four with two outs and a 7-3 lead. In that inning, Mississippi State’s Chelsea Raines led off with solo home run to make it a four-run game. The next two batters grounded out and struck out, but Mississippi State ignited a strong comeback with the game nearly in hand for FSU.
With two outs, Ali Bainbridge singled to centerfield, and eventually advanced to third base as the next two batters were hit by a pitch and walked, respectively. With the bases loaded, Courtney Nesbit hit a two-run single through the left side to trim the deficit to 7-5. Sam Linehan then followed with a game-tying two run double to the right center gap. Morgan Bullock, who was forced to re-enter as pitcher during the inning, then induced a groundout to third base to preserve the tie.
Starter Sarah Hamilton (5-7) took the unnecessary loss simply by being the last pitcher in the contest. She re-entered in the eighth after Raines hit a leadoff double to right field. Hamilton induced a sacrifice bunt to put the winning run on third base with one out, and later would intentionally walk No. 1 hitter Bainbridge to create a force out situation. She then got Heidi Shape to foul out to short left field, and forced a groundout on a 3-1 pitch to give FSU life.
Amber Bryant provided a big hit in the 10th inning when she drove in Kirstin Austin, who started off the inning at second base as part of the international tie-breaking rule. The run-producing single gave FSU an 8-7 advantage going into the bottom of the 10th.
With a runner starting on second base, Raines pushed a drag bunt through the right side, splitting the middle infield for a base hit to put runners on the corners. On an 0-2 pitch, Jessica Cooley then hit a soft grounder to Hamilton, who threw to catcher Robin Ahrberg at home plate to force a run-down. However, a throwing error occurred on the play to bring in both runs and complete Mississippi State’s comeback.
The game was the longest played by FSU since playing North Carolina in 11 innings on March 14, 2010, at JoAnne Graf Field.
Tiffani Brown led FSU with three hits, while Ahrberg and Jen Lapicki added two hits apiece. It is Lapicki’s fourth multi-hit performance in her last six games. FSU recorded 11 base hits in 41 at-bats, while Mississippi State went 12-for-38 as a team.
Briana Hamilton whacked a two-run homer to give the Seminoles an early 2-0 lead in the second inning. The Woodruff, S.C., native hit her second round-tripper of the season on a 2-0 offering from starter Kylie Vry, taking the pitch the opposite way for a line-drive shot over the right center wall. Lapicki scored on the play after reaching base on a sharp double down the left field line.
In the same inning, Bullock and Kelly Hensley were issued back-to-back walks. Brown then grounded out to the pitcher but plated Bullock, and Courtney Senas reached first by reaching out for a single into left field. The frame was capped by Ahrberg’s two-run double, making it 5-0.
Mississippi State recorded a run in the bottom of the third inning on a two-out, RBI single by Kaili Smith. The hit just snuck past a diving Brown at second base, driving in Bainbridge from second base. Nesbit fouled out to end the inning on a hustling play from Lapicki, who snagged the ball near the third-base dugout.
Lenahan trimmed Mississippi State’s deficit to 5-2 with a leadoff home run over the centerfield wall in the fourth inning. Hamilton, however, bounced back strong by striking out three straight to help the Seminoles regain control of the inning.
A costly error by Mississippi State shortstop Bainbridge off the bat of Ahrberg brought in two unearned runs for FSU, creating a 7-2 lead. Ahrberg hit a sharp grounder to Bainbridge, but the ball passed right through her legs to drive in Bullock and Brown from second and third base, respectively.
The Seminoles return with a 2:30 p.m. ET matchup at No. 2 Alabama on Saturday, followed by a 7:30 p.m. contest against the Bulldogs at Rhoads Stadium.