TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Senior right-hander Sarah Hamilton’s sixth career no-hitter paced the Florida State University softball team to a five-inning, mercy-rule win in game one over Virginia, 8-0. FSU, however, lost a low-scoring affair in game two by a 2-1 score.
Hamilton (11-13) and an opportunistic Seminole (18-21, 4-7) offense made short work of the Cavaliers (18-20, 2-8) in a first game that lasted just 1 hour 24 minutes. The senior standout’s no-hit performance was her first of the season and moved her past FSU great Casey Hunter for second place on the all-time list. Hamilton only trails former USA Softball National Player of the Year Jessica van der Linden, who has nine no-hitters.
Spoiling her perfect game quest were two walks that she issued in the fourth and fifth innings. Hamilton was perfect through the first 3.2 frames, and totaled eight strikeouts in 17 batters faced.
Hamilton is setting herself up for more history on Sunday – she is looking to become just the second Seminole to reach 900 career strikeouts. Her gem this afternoon leaves her with 899 K’s, which ironically ties van der Linden for second place in school history. The Tallahassee native needs only 41 more strikeouts to break Tiffany McDonald’s school record of 939.
Helping the cause in game one was that FSU jumped on the Cavaliers early and often. The Seminoles scored three quick runs in the first inning, extending their record to 11-4 when scoring first and 8-3 when they score in the opening frame.
Junior Shayla Jackson led FSU with a 2-for-3 performance and two RBIs, which included her third triple of the season. Nearly every position starter recorded a base hit, as FSU produced 10 hits altogether to mark its most since recording a season-high 16 at Florida A&M on March 23. The 10 hits also tied for FSU’s most in 11 conference games this season.
The Seminoles started off well with three runs on two hits in the first inning. With Tiffani Brown on third base and one out, Jen Lapicki lay down an RBI bunt to the pitcher, who decided to throw home on a fielder’s choice as Lapicki sacrificed Brown to home plate.
Robin Ahrberg and Courtney Senas brought more runs in when each recorded nearly identical hits - bloop run-scoring doubles to right center that extended the Seminole lead to 3-0.
Jackson kept the offensive outburst going in the second inning when she tripled off the right center wall to drive in Morgan Bullock and Brown. After Lapicki reached base on a single and Ashley Stager doubled to left field, pinch hitter Briar Stanley recorded an RBI groundout to the shortstop to make it 7-0. Celeste Gomez then kept the trend going with a run-scoring single to left center to create an eight-run lead.
Virginia’s Melanie Mitchell (11-10) took the loss in game one after letting up six runs in one inning pitched. Mitchell then started game two and made her necessary adjustments to hold FSU to just five base hits.
Mitchell spoiled FSU’s goal of a doubleheader sweep by holding the Seminoles to just 2-for-12 with runners on base. FSU was only able to capitalize once with runners in scoring position in game two, going 1-for-5 with Briana Hamilton providing the lone hit on an RBI single to right center with two outs in the sixth inning.
Hamilton finished the second game with a team-best two hits, while Lapicki, Stanley and Bullock contributed with one single apiece.
Virginia got its first run of the day in the opening frame. After getting her first two batters out, starting pitcher Jessica Nori (2-4) surrendered a single to centerfield by Marcy Bowdren, followed by a single up the middle by Stephanie Harris. Erica Cipollini then drove in the game’s first run on a single to right center to give the Cavaliers an early 1-0 lead.
FSU looked to rebound in the second inning when Stanley and Hamilton were on first and second base with just one out. Senas and Bullock, however, recorded consecutive strikeouts to end the threat.
Another opportunity knocked in the sixth for FSU, as Hamilton’s run-scoring hit with two outs advanced a runner to third base with pinch hitter Robin Ahrberg stepping to the plate. Ahrberg, like many of today’s hitters in game two, was forced adjust to a wider struck zone and ended up striking out to preserve the Virginia lead.
Nori had a solid stat line despite enduring the loss in the second game, allowing only two runs on eight hits in a complete-game performance.
FSU faces Virginia in the rubber game tomorrow at noon at JoAnne Graf Field. Sunday’s game is youth day, with a free clinic running afterward for children who are in kindergarten to eighth grade.