Feb. 10, 2005
Tallahassee, Florida – Playing without NFCA All-American senior pitcher Casey Hunter, the 10th-ranked Florida State softball team split a doubleheader against cross-town foe Florida A&M Wednesday evening at Lady Rattlers Field to open the 2005 season with an even 1-1 record. The Seminoles had to rely on freshman pitcher Tiffany McDonald and sophomore hurler Amy Harrison in place of an ill Hunter who managed to throw a successful first inning in the opener before leaving the game permanently. FSU defeated the Lady Rattlers 5-2 in the first performance, but fell 10-7 in the night cap.
“I was real pleased how we played the first game,” said head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf, who started her 27th season at FSU tonight. “I thought we were real aggressive on the bases, we hit well, played good defense, and Tiffany McDonald did a fantastic job pitching in place of Casey Hunter. Casey tried to go, but she just couldn’t because she was too sick. I thought Tiffany did an awesome job for her first time.”
Since 1984, FSU is 20-2 in the season opener and tonight marked just the fifth time in the program’s history that the Tribe lost the second game of the season after tallying an impressive 17-4 record during the previous 21 outings. In fact, Florida State owns an 83-6 all-time series record against the Lady Rattlers and the later contest marked the first time in the program’s history that FAMU has posted 10 runs against a Seminole squad.
“I think it was good tonight because we played a lot of people,” Graf commented. “The players and coaches saw a lot of things we need to work on and it’s nice to play a real game because game situations are hard to replicate in practice. The players know they need to be a little tougher mentally, especially in the second game. I can’t even remember the last time someone scored 10 runs on us. So, we’ll gather ourselves and work on some things in practice tomorrow before we begin play this weekend.”
Game One Recap – Florida State 5, Florida A&M 2
The Seminoles opened the scoring in the top of the third inning and tacked on three runs after freshman Whitney Buckmon got things started with a leadoff single followed by a sacrifice bunt by junior catcher BillieAnne Gay that advanced Buckmon to third. Gay reached base on an error by the second baseman and NFCA All-American Veronica Wootson followed with a triple that scored two runs. Senior Tatiana George later stepped in and hit a grounder that brought Wootson home for the three-run, two-hit inning.
Another run was added in the fourth inning when sophomore LaShaun Davis drew a leadoff walk and freshman first baseman Brittany Osmon followed with an RBI double to give the Seminoles the 4-0 lead. The Lady Rattlers, behind an FSU error, tallied two runs in the bottom of the fourth and inched within two runs.
The Tribe’s speedy left fielder, junior Natasha Jacob, jumpstarted the seventh inning with a triple and George registered her second RBI of the game on the following play after grounding out to shortstop and advancing Jacob home for Florida State’s final run of the game.
Freshman Tiffany McDonald pitched six solid innings in her rookie debut, striking out three batters in the three-hit performance.
Game Two Recap – Florida A&M 10, Florida State 7
Despite out-hitting the Lady Rattlers 12-10, Florida State’s two errors in the bottom of the fourth inning proved costly for the Seminoles as FAMU defeated the Tribe for only the sixth time in the two team’s 89 meetings, 10-7.
Sophomore pitcher Amy Harrison, who appeared in just six innings last year, struck out three batters in three innings before Tiffany McDonald entered the game and pitched the remainder of the contest. She gave up just two earned runs and retired two batters.
The Seminoles recorded the first score of the game when Tatiana George reached base on a single. Clean-up hitter and senior third baseman Lesley Palmer followed George with a double that brought her home for the 1-0 lead.
The second inning found freshman catcher Melissa Wood on second base when she was hit by pitch and later advanced a base thanks to a passed ball. Osmon doubled and scored Wood, followed by a single from junior Kim Hoffer that advanced Osmon to third base. With runners on second and third, Wootson sacrificed a fly to right field and brought Osmon home and Hoffer later scored when Jacob had an RBI single. Florida State owned a comfortable 4-0 cushion before the Lady Rattlers stormed back with four runs in the bottom of the second and made the game even at 4-4.
Florida A&M went on to total six runs in the fourth inning to take the 10-4 lead. Florida State staged a late comeback in the top of the fifth thanks to a three-run, two-hit performance behind George’s single and Palmer’s double. Wood had an RBI when she scored Buckmon, who had reached base after being hit by a pitch, and Florida State came within three runs, 10-7.
However, the Lady Rattlers shut out the Tribe in the sixth and had three straight outs in the seventh inning as FSU’s hopes of a comeback fell short.
George and Palmer had three hits each and Jacob totaled two, respectively. George also scored two runs.
Florida State will be back in action Friday, Feb. 11, when it hosts the 2005 Seminole Classic with games at 2:30 (Missouri) and 5:00 p.m. (Nicholls State) at the Seminole Softball Complex.