February 22, 2011 - by
Softball Heads West

Feb. 22, 2011

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Coming off a successful 5-1 week and a runner-up spot at the Garnet and Gold Tournament, the Florida State University softball team is set for a tough five-game swing out West at the Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs, Calif.

With all times Eastern, the Seminoles (7-4) will begin their trip with a matchup against 25th-ranked BYU on Thursday, Feb. 24, at 1 p.m., followed by a game against Oregon State that is set to begin at approximately 3:30 p.m. on the same day.

On Friday, FSU plays one game against Northwestern at 6 p.m. FSU wraps up Saturday with consecutive games against Long Beach State and San Diego State at approximately 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., respectively.

“As a program this is going to be a great test to see where we are, and in our ability to travel cross-country and compete against some amazing talent,” said head coach Lonni Alameda, who picked up her 250th career win last week. “This is a `who’s who’ of tournaments and a good test to see where you stand versus the Top 25. We are always working to get better every time we get an opportunity and this is one weekend that we need to capitalize on and pull together as a team.”

FSU looks to build on its offensive efficiency from last week, where it compiled 39 runs on 54 hits in a six-game span. In that time, third baseman Tiffani Brown led the everyday starters with a .450 batting average (9-for-20) while adding 11 runs scored, one double, two triples and just one strikeout. The speedy sophomore has stolen eight bases in eight attempts this season.

Senior Ashley Stager and freshman Kelly Hensley also had impressive weeks at the plate, each finishing 5-for-13. Hensley added two home runs for the Seminoles, including a pinch-hit round-tripper against Florida A&M on Feb. 15.

Senior pitcher Sarah Hamilton hopes to duplicate her effort in the circle that led FSU to a quality victory over 24th-ranked Kentucky last Saturday. Hamilton pitched a complete-game shutout against the Wildcats, outdueling UK ace Chanda Bell by striking out seven and giving up just six hits in a 2-0 win that marks the team’s first Top 25 victory of the season.

Redshirt freshman right-hander Jessica Nori continued her improvement last week, finishing 2-0 in eight innings pitched. Sophomore Morgan Bullock also picked up a victory, while senior Lauren Varsalona pitched well in relief.

FSU is designated as the home team in three of its contests at the Cathedral City Classic – versus BYU, Oregon State and Long Beach State. The Seminoles are deemed as the visiting team against Northwestern and San Diego State.

FSU is a combined 11-6 all-time against this week’s competition, including 6-1 overall against Northwestern. The Seminoles are 1-0 against San Diego State and 3-2 versus Long Beach State, their most recent opponent. The Seminoles and 49ers (7-2) last met on March 20, 2008, at the Judi Garmin Classic in Fullerton, Calif. FSU fell in that contest, 6-2, but was led by current senior Robin Ahrberg’s 2-for-3 performance.

BYU begins the Cathedral City Classic with a 6-4 overall mark, showing close losses over nationally-ranked Stanford and Oregon. The Cougars are led by USA Softball Player of the Year candidate Jessica Fitu, a catcher who already has four home runs, four doubles and 16 RBIs.

Oregon State did not play last week, but opened its season with a 4-1 mark at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. The Beavers defeated Appalachian State, Western Michigan, North Texas and Bradley before losing to Nebraska.

Northwestern is 4-3 on the young season, led by Emily Allard’s .560 batting average and 14 base hits. The Wildcats have struggled in the circle thus far, showing a team earned run average of 3.90.

Long Beach State has gotten off to a fast start, which includes wins over Boise State, Loyola Marymount and Arkansas. Erin Jones-Wesley leads the 49ers with a 3-0 record and a 1.22 ERA in three games started.

San Diego State is looking to rebound after losing to two ranked teams in Missouri and Washington last week. The Aztecs also have wins over UCF, Utah State and North Dakota State.

Seminole fans can follow all five games on CBS GameTracker by accessing the FSU softball page on Seminoles.com.

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