TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Trailing 1-0 in the fifth inning, the Florida State University softball team found a way to produce some big hits and roll past Virginia, 6-1, on Sunday afternoon at JoAnne Graf Field.
The Seminoles (19-21, 5-7) and Cavaliers (18-21, 2-9) were locked in another pitchers’ duel through the first five frames, with winning pitcher Sarah Hamilton (12-13) and Virginia ace Melanie Mitchell (11-11) consistently getting hitters out with good pitches in the circle.
However, after Virginia managed to pull ahead on a two-out, bloop single to left field by Stephanie Harris in the top of the fifth, the Seminoles found some life in their bats. From there, FSU pounded out six of its eight hits over the final three innings to wear down Mitchell and propel it to the second ACC series victory of the season.
“It was big for our team to get this series win,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “Virginia came up with a deflating hit there in the fifth, but our team managed to fight back and come through with some big hits and big runs late in the game. Today’s game is a great learning experience for our team, and we’re hoping that our big performances in some crucial situations today can become contagious for the rest of the season.”
The first run for FSU was caused by a throwing error from Virginia first baseman Harris. After Morgan Bullock reached base with one out on a single, she stole second base and then traveled to third on a single up the middle by Tiffani Brown. From there, Brown got in a rundown between first and second base to try and push Bullock home, distracting Harris and forcing her into a bad throw toward Bullock as she tried to keep the Dacula, Ga., native from scoring. Bullock then crossed the plate and Brown reached third base on the miscue.
The game-winning hit occurred when junior Shayla Jackson subsequently stepped to the plate. The Pembroke Pines, Fla., native sliced a single to left field to score Brown. Later, freshman Celeste Gomez added an insurance run on a sacrifice fly to right field.
Jackson finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, while senior Ashley Stager led FSU’s offense with two hits and three RBIs. Stager’s three-run double to left center in the sixth essentially put the game out of reach, hammering a pitch to the gap that brought home Brown, Jackson and Jen Lapicki in a bases-loaded situation. The big play came with two outs.
In FSU’s four-game week, Stager batted 5-for-13 (.385) with two doubles, four RBIs and seven total bases.
Capping off an impressive week was senior pitcher Sarah Hamilton, who once again gave FSU an opportunity to win after shutting down the opposing offense. Virginia managed just six hits, all singles, off the Tallahassee native. Hamilton registered a complete game and struck out 10 batters – her fourth double-digit strikeout performance this season. Her first strikeout of the game against Alison Pittman in the first inning made her the second Seminole to reach the 900 career strikeout mark. Hamilton now trails all-time leader Tiffany McDonald by just 30 K’s.
The former Chiles High standout also did not allow an earned run today against the Cavaliers. In three starts this week, she went 2-1 with a 0.38 ERA and struck out 27 batters in 18.2 innings pitched.
FSU gets ready for back-to-back doubleheaders at home beginning Tuesday, April 12, at 4 p.m. in makeup games against Mercer. The Seminoles then face North Florida in a doubleheader on Wednesday at JoAnne Graf Field beginning at 4 p.m., with the games being deemed Luau Night.