TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (seminoles.com) – The Florida State University softball team endured another difficult day as it fell in both games on Saturday against No. 2 Alabama (L, 8-0) and Mississippi State (L, 8-7) at the Easton SEC/ACC Challenge in Rhoads Stadium.
“Today we had some things that didn’t go our way,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “There are a lot of talented pieces to this team and we’ve got to find a way to get the three aspects of the game in sync. I have a lot of confidence in this bunch and I know that we can correct this slide and get back to playing softball the Florida State way.”
The Seminoles (12-12) had their best chance to earn a victory in the second game against the Bulldogs (12-11). FSU produced 12 base hits in 31 at-bats and held a 6-3 lead through four innings. Mississippi State, however, accrued four runs in the top of the fifth – highlighted by a three-run go-ahead home run from Ali Bainbridge.
Another home run by Chelsea Raines in the sixth gave the Bulldogs a two-run cushion, but FSU fought back with a sacrifice fly from Jen Lapicki in the bottom of the sixth to stay within striking distance. FSU was unable to finish its rally, as five of the next six batters were retired in the sixth and seventh innings.
Lapicki continued her impressive showing at the plate. She now holds an eight-game hitting streak after finishing 2-for-2 with two RBIs and a home run against Mississippi State. She recorded FSU’s lone hit in the first game against Alabama, hitting a single off one of the nation’s top pitchers in Kelsi Dunne.
Courtney Senas had a career-high three hits in the nightcap, finishing with a double and two RBIs. Robin Ahrberg went 2-for-4 with one RBI and a double, and second baseman Kristie McConn added two hits and an RBI. The three doubles recorded by Senas, Jackson and Ahrberg marked a season-high for the Seminoles.
Mississippi State got a run in the first frame when Sam Lenahan hit an RBI groundout to shortstop Ashley Stager, making it 1-0.
Shayla Jackson led off with a double to centerfield that nearly got out of the park in the second inning. Amber Bryant moved her over on a single through the left side, and Jackson then scored on a throwing error by catcher Lenahan on an attempted squeeze play. McConn provided a big hit with a two-strike, RBI single to left field, and Senas later hit an RBI single to right field.
Courtney Nesbit knotted the game at 3-3 in the third inning on a two-run home run to left field. However, Lapicki responded with a solo home run to right field in the bottom half, giving FSU the lead back at 4-3. It was Lapicki’s third home run of the season, as she shows a team-leading .379 batting average on the year.
McConn added her second base hit in the fourth inning, and consecutive RBI doubles by Senas and Ahrberg extended FSU’s lead to 6-3 before Mississippi State ignited another rally and earned the victory. Mississippi State’s Shana Sherrod (1-0) got the win in relief after allowing one run in the final 3.1 innings pitched.
In game one, senior pitcher Sarah Hamilton (5-9) took the loss with an odd stat line – allowing just two hits in four innings pitched but giving up seven runs and six walks. Alabama did most of its damage with two outs, where it scored seven of its eight runs.
Opposing pitcher Dunne (10-1) allowed one hit in five innings pitched and struck out eight. The Tide totaled just three hits in the shortened contest.
Alabama began its first round of at-bats with two runs in the opening inning, both coming on bases-loaded walks. Cassie Reilly-Boccia and Jackey Branham each drew the run-scoring walks as Hamilton had a couple close calls work against her in both at-bats. The Tide did not register any hits in that inning, with Hamilton striking out three.
FSU threatened in the bottom half as Stager led off with a walk and Lapicki singled through the left side. Jackson pushed both runners over on a sacrifice bunt, but two batters lately Kelly Hensley ended the inning after hitting a hard grounder toward the middle that was fielded nicely by shortstop Whitney Larsen.
The game was broke open in the fourth inning when Alabama’s Larsen hit a 1-0 offering for a grand slam over the left field wall to create a 7-0 advantage. Hamilton surrendered her first hit of the game in the same inning, a leadoff double down the left field line by Branham.
Alabama ended the game in the fifth when Courtney Conley delivered an RBI double to the left center gap.
The Seminoles end their five-game trip away from home on Sunday with another matchup against No. 2 Alabama at Rhoads Stadium. First pitch is set for 1:30 p.m. CT.