TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Sophomore pitcher Morgan Bullock enjoyed a quality start in leading the Florida State University softball team to a 7-1 win over Wisconsin in game one of Saturday’s Big Ten/Mountain West/ACC Challenge at JoAnne Graf Field. FSU fell in game two to Utah, 5-4.
The Dacula, Ga., native threw 6.1 innings in game one and allowed just one run on five hits while striking out four. Bullock (4-1) continues to surface as FSU’s No. 2 starter this season, shutting down the Badgers (5-3) throughout her entire start.
“I was impressed with the way Morgan threw today,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “For the most of the season she has continued to improve in the circle for us, and we are not surprised on her improvement this year just because she worked so hard in the offseason. Her performance was key in helping us split today’s games.”
Bullock was consistent all afternoon, not allowing a hit in three of her six innings pitched. Aside from allowing a solo home run in the sixth inning, only one runner managed to reach third base against the improved right-hander.
Three Seminoles (10-8) posted multiple-hit performances against Wisconsin. Seniors Robin Ahrberg (2-for-3) and Jen Lapicki (2-for-4) as well as freshman Courtney Senas (2-for-3) combined for six of FSU’s 10 hits. Including today’s loss to Utah, the Seminoles have now hit at least one home run in four consecutive games.
Lapicki’s run-scoring single to right center scored Senas from second base to give FSU a 1-0 advantage in the second inning. Senas reached base to lead off the inning on a bunt single. Later, Lapicki scored on a wild pitch, and Tiffani Brown followed with a key two-out RBI single to centerfield to put the Seminoles ahead at 3-0.
An overthrow by Wisconsin third baseman Shannel Blackshear brought home Lapicki from third base, extending FSU’s lead to 4-0.
In the top of the sixth, Karla Powell gave the Badgers their lone run when she hit a solo home run to left center, cutting the deficit to 4-1.
Ashley Stager put the game away in the bottom of the inning when she launched her fourth round-tripper of the year, a three-run shot that stayed just inside the left field foul pole to give FSU a 7-1 advantage. Stager has now hit all of her home runs in her last six games played.
An exciting back-and-forth affair resulted in an FSU loss in game two. Utah built a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning after Chalese Fankhauser’s run-scoring double. In the bottom half, however, Lapicki hit her second home run of the season on a full-count offering from Generra Nielson (6-8), making it 3-2.
Kelsi Hoopiiana padded Utah’s lead with a solo home run in the sixth to go ahead 4-2. FSU then responded as Senas hit a towering solo home run to left center in the bottom half. Ahrberg then singled up the middle, Stager was hit by a pitch and Lapicki singled to centerfield to load the bases. Briana Hamilton then drew a four-pitch walk to bring in the tying run with just one out, but the next two batters were unable to drive in the go-ahead run.
The game-winning hit occurred in the seventh when Tia Palauni hit a leadoff solo home run over the centerfield wall. Nielson then retired the side in the bottom of the seventh to earn the victory for the Utes (7-12).
Ahrberg and Lapicki once again led the way for FSU in game two, recording two more hits apiece.
FSU returns with matchups against Utah and Wisconsin on Sunday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., respectively. The Badgers and Utes square off once again at 9 a.m. at JoAnne Graf Field.