Tallahassee, FL - The Florida State University softball team has only played six games in the young season, but freshman Kelly Hensley has already made her presence felt with her bat.
The Niceville, Fla., native came through in a big way for FSU as it defeated Florida A&M, 8-5, on Tuesday evening at JoAnne Graf Field. With the Seminoles (3-3) clinging to a 6-5 lead and one out in the sixth inning, Hensley took an 0-1 pitch from reliever Jenn Lindsey and smashed a two-run round tripper over the left center wall to give FSU some critical insurance runs.
Hensley begins her Seminole career with four hits in her first seven at-bats this season, including two extra-base hits.
Providing some quality relief and allowing FSU to climb back from a 5-1 hole were pitchers Morgan Bullock (2-0) and Sarah Hamilton. Bullock earned the win and allowed one run on one hit in 2.1 innings pitched against a fast Rattlers (4-1) team, and Hamilton picked up her seventh career save to move into a tie with former Seminole Casey Hunter (2002-05) for second on the school’s all-time list.
Hamilton prevented any chance of a Rattler comeback by pitching 2.2 innings and allowing just two hits with four strikeouts. She entered the contest with FSU up just one run in the fifth and retired her first three batters, as well as eight of her 11 batters faced.
“Sarah gave us another big performance tonight,” said head coach Lonni Alameda. “She and Morgan stepped up for us, and Kelly’s home run in a sometimes difficult situation really ignited our team and helped us pull out the win.”
Designated player Robin Ahrberg had another good performance at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a walk and a double. Making her first career start behind the plate was freshman catcher Celeste Gomez, who finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs and managed three pitchers well during the contest.
Both teams produced nine hits apiece in the contest, while Florida A&M stranded nine runners overall. Starting pitcher Whitney Robinson (2-1) took the loss after allowing six runs and seven hits in four innings pitched, but finished 3-for-3 with an RBI at the plate.
FSU opened its scoring in the bottom of the first when Tiffani Brown crossed the plate on a wild pitch. Brown reached third in one swing of the bat on a lining triple down the right field line. Ahrberg then hit a double to centerfield and Ashley Stager followed with a walk to a put a runner in scoring position, but FSU could not produce another hit to end the inning.
After missing an opportunity with runners on the corners in the second inning, FSU came back with three runs in the third. Shayla Jackson cut FSU’s deficit to 5-2 on a key two-out RBI triple to the left-center gap. Ahrberg reached base earlier in the inning on a single down the left field line before hustling around the bags to score on Jackson’s hit. Two batters later, Gomez stepped to the plate and hit a tailing line-drive triple down the right field line to score two more, making it 5-4.
After holding Florida A&M scoreless for the first time in the fourth, FSU took advantage. Courtney Senas got the inning started with a triple down the left field line, but was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice. The momentum then swung in the next two at-bats, when Ahrberg and Stager each drew walks that caused first-and-third rundowns and allowed Brown and eventually Ahrberg to score and give FSU the 6-5 lead.
The Seminoles return with the Garnet and Gold Tournament this weekend at JoAnne Graf Field. FSU welcomes Middle Tennessee State, Kentucky and Georgia Southern to Tallahassee, and begins the tournament with matchups against the Eagles and Blue Raiders at 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., respectively, on Friday.