TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State University softball team got into an offensive rhythm and never looked back as it defeated Georgia Southern, 6-4, and Middle Tennessee State, 10-3, on Friday at the Garnet and Gold Tournament at JoAnne Graf Field.
The Seminoles (5-3) produced a combined 27 base hits in two games today. Against the Eagles (3-5), FSU tallied 12 hits and added 15 more in its victory over the Blue Raiders (1-3) in game No. 2.
“Our offense really got it going today, especially in the second game,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “We were happy with Jessica (Nori’s) performance in the circle in the second game, and overall we as a coaching staff are pleased with what our team showed. We have a difficult matchup tomorrow in Kentucky and we are certainly looking forward to playing them in what should be an entertaining game.”
Junior outfielder Shayla Jackson led the Seminoles with five base hits on the day, going 5-for-7 with two doubles, a triple and an RBI. Freshman Kelly Hensley continued her superb start, going 3-for-6 with one home run and two RBIs in the two contests. Tiffani Brown, Jen Lapicki and Courtney Senas added three hits apiece, with Senas hitting a grand slam for her first career round-tripper. The Wahiawa, Hawaii, native led FSU with five RBIs, and Brown continued her terror on the base paths with three steals.
Senior pitcher Sarah Hamilton (2-2) provided a spark for the Seminoles in the circle against Georgia Southern. She pitched four innings of relief and allowed one run on three hits with nine strikeouts. Her nine K’s on the day moved her past two former Seminoles for fifth place on the school’s all-time strikeout list – passing Leslie Malerich (1999-02) and Christy Larsen (1988-91).
Getting her first career victory in game two was redshirt freshman Jessica Nori (1-1). The Weston, Fla., native showcased her tremendous arm strength, allowing just one run on three hits while walking none in five innings.
Against Georgia Southern, Florida State was forced to rally in the bottom of the first inning after Marie Fogle homered to center on the second pitch of the game. Brown started the scoring when she advanced home on an illegal pitch from third base. On that very play, Shayla Jackson hit a sharp shot to the shortstop, who was indecisive on the play and did not make a throw. Brown reached base on an error from shortstop Jorie Walker, then stole her team-leading fourth base of the season before advancing home on consecutive illegal pitches.
FSU tied the game in the third inning on an RBI single by Hensley to make it 3-3. The batter before, Senas recorded a sacrifice fly to center to cut the deficit to 3-2. Later in the contest, Ashley Stager recorded a key sacrifice fly to make it 5-3 in the sixth, and Jackson later scored on a wild pitch to advance the lead.
FSU broke out the long ball in the second game against Middle Tennessee State. Hensley started the second inning with a solo blast to left field on a 1-1 inside fastball, putting the Seminoles ahead early. Later in the inning, Senas added a grand slam over the centerfield wall to put FSU ahead 5-0. Brown then singled up the middle and stole second base, then scored on an RBI single from Robin Ahrberg.
FSU padded its lead in the sixth when Jackson hit an RBI triple to left center, and sophomore Briar Stanley followed with a two-run single through the left side to put the game out of reach.
The Seminoles return with a 12:30 p.m. matchup against 24th-ranked Kentucky on Saturday afternoon at JoAnne Graf Field. Both teams are the remaining undefeated squads in the tournament. Championship play begins later Saturday, with the No. 1 vs. No. 4 seeds playing at approximately 2:45 p.m. and the No. 2 vs. No. 3 seeds playing 30 minutes afterward.