Gainesville, FL - A phenomenal pitching performance by senior ace Sarah Hamilton (16-16) was spoiled on Wednesday evening as the Florida State University softball team fell at fourth-ranked Florida, 1-0, at Pressley Stadium in front of 1,409 fans in Gainesville.
The Seminoles (26-24) outplayed the Gators (44-8) through most of the contest, sparked by Hamilton’s third one-hitter this season. The renowned senior hurler also posted one-hitters earlier this season in victories over South Alabama and Wisconsin.
"Sarah was incredible tonight. She pitched her heart out and gave it everything she had," head coach Lonni Alameda said. "We fought hard against our rival, and although we came up on the losing end, I'm proud of the way our girls played tonight."
This time the FSU all-time strikeout leader went up against a bitter rival and a top-five ranked opponent on the road. However, UF’s potent offensive lineup that showed a .336 batting average entering tonight’s affair was no match for the Tallahassee native. Hamilton threw six strong innings and struck out six while walking four. UF batted 1-for-19 (.053) overall.
FSU out-hit UF, 6-1, including two extra base hits by Shayla Jackson and Jen Lapicki. However, the Seminoles stranded all of their runners that managed to reach base against the duo of pitchers Stephanie Brombacher (17-1) and fast-throwing Hannah Rogers (S, 3). The result was the fourth 1-0 loss Hamilton has endured in the circle this season, and drops FSU to a tough-luck 3-13 record in one-run games this year.
Hamilton’s only blemish came in the second inning, when Aja Paculba took a one-out pitch for a solo home run to left field. After the lone run, Hamilton retired 14 of her next 18 batters faced.
The Seminoles did not go down without a valiant effort in the top of the seventh. Facing Rogers with one out left to go in the game, Celeste Gomez took a two-strike pitch for a bloop single the opposite way in right field. Briana Hamilton then stepped to the plate and hit a chopper that froze first baseman Megan Bush, resulting in a fielding error and putting runners on first and second base.
Freshman Courtney Senas then stepped up and showed poise with two strikes against one of the country’s best pitchers – hitting a single through the right side as pinch-runner Kirstin Austin was held up rounding third base. With the bases loaded, Morgan Bullock hit a grounder to third base that ended the one hour, 31 minute contest.
Some of Florida’s most heralded hitters, including Michelle Moultrie and Megan Bush, had no such luck tonight against Hamilton. She pitched another sound game with precision throwing, holding the top four of UF’s batting order to a combined 0-for-11 performance.
After fanning twice in the first inning, Florida began to adjust to Hamilton as it tacked on a run in the second frame. After Brittany Schutte grounded out to start the second, Paculba took Hamilton to a full count before jumping on an offering that landed over the left field wall, giving UF a 1-0 lead. The Gators threatened to score again after drawing consecutive walks, but No. 9 batter Kasay Fagan fouled out to Celeste Gomez behind the plate to end the inning.
FSU finishes its regular season with a three-game series at 17th-ranked Georgia Tech this weekend, an opportunity to add more quality wins. The Seminoles face the Yellow Jackets in a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m., followed by the regular-season finale at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Seminole fans looking to travel to next weekend’s ACC Championship in Atlanta can already make plans for FSU’s first-round matchup. No matter the outcome this weekend, FSU will face Virginia Tech as either the No. 4 or No. 5 seed next Friday, May 13, at 7:30 p.m. Details on the ACC Championship will be announced next week.