AUBURN, Ala. (seminoles.com) – Despite out-hitting the opposition, all it took was one swing of the bat for No. 24 Auburn to put away the Florida State University softball team as it won 5-3 on Tuesday evening at Jane B. Moore Field.
Kelsey Cartwright’s grand slam in the third inning gave the Tigers (19-2) an insurmountable 5-0 lead and a sizeable advantage for starting left-hander Jenee Loree (5-1) to work with. FSU starter Sarah Hamilton (5-6) took the loss despite pitching well aside from Auburn’s five-run inning.
Hamilton threw against the Tigers a year after striking out a career-high 20 in nine innings of a 1-0 loss against Auburn in Tallahassee.
The Seminoles (12-9) outhit Auburn, 10-4, and were boosted by the offensive production of sophomore Tiffani Brown and senior Jen Lapicki. Brown finished 3-for-4 with three singles – her fourth three-hit performance this season. Lapicki added three hits on two singles to continue her hot streak at the plate. FSU fought back with three runs in the ninth before falling short.
Performing well in defeat was reliever Morgan Bullock, who threw two shutout innings while allowing just one hit with two strikeouts.
The Seminoles’ first big chance came in the top of the third. Kelly Hensley led off the frame with a groundout to shortstop Lauren Guzman, but Bullock reached based on a hit-by-pitch. Brown then slapped a single through the right side to put one runner in scoring position, but the next two batters failed to advance both runners and ended the threat.
The damage was done in the bottom of the third inning when Auburn produced five runs. Two of the first three batters were hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs, and Amber Harrison drew a walk to bring in the game’s first run. After Hamilton induced a pop-out to third base, Kelsey Cartwright hit a grand slam that very nearly went foul down the left field line. In the same at-bat, Cartwright tried to lay down a bunt that popped up toward Briana Hamilton in foul territory toward third base, but the sophomore came up just short after she tried to make the outstretched play while hustling near the opposing dugout.
Sarah Hamilton managed to settle down after that at-bat, forcing a flyout and a strikeout to end the inning.
FSU threatened again in the top of the fifth, as Brown reached base on a single to the right and then was sent to third on a walk from Courtney Senas. With runners on the corners and two outs, Robin Ahrberg hit a sharp shot that Loree snagged and tossed for the final out of the inning.
Hamilton struck out four more in tonight’s contest, marking 808 K’s for her career. The Tallahassee native scattered just three hits and walked four in four innings pitched.
With two outs in the sixth inning, Briana Hamilton hit a ground-ball single that third baseman Kyndall White could not handle on the run, and Shayla Jackson made good contact in her third consecutive at-bat for a single through the right side to put Hamilton in scoring position. But FSU was unable to muster another hit to keep it scoreless heading into the bottom of the sixth.
In the seventh, Brown and Senas recorded consecutive singles and a walk to Ahrberg loaded the bases with one out. Ashley Stager came through with an RBI single, followed by another run-scoring single from Lapicki. Briana Hamilton then cut FSU’s deficit to 5-3 with an RBI fielder’s choice play, but FSU could not bring home any more runs as it fell in its first true road contest of the season.
The Seminoles return with a matchup versus Penn State on Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET in Auburn, Ala. FSU will then head to the Easton SEC-ACC Challenge in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for two matchups apiece against nationally-ranked Alabama and Mississippi State.
For further information, visit: www.seminoles.com