Tallahassee, FL - The Florida State softball team lost a thrilling ACC matchup against North Carolina on Saturday afternoon, falling to its conference rival by a 5-4 score in game one of the three-game set at JoAnne Graf Field.
The Seminoles (24-10, 3-1) dropped their first conference game of the season in what was an exhausting day for both squads. First pitch began at 9 a.m. due to inclement weather in the area, and a 2 hour, 55 minute lightning delay took place until play resumed at 12:23 p.m. in the top of the second inning. In total, the game lasted five hours, 37 minutes.
Sunday is now scheduled as a doubleheader set to begin at 10 a.m. and approximately noon. The time for both games is subject to change based on the projected weather Sunday morning.
Florida State left a season-high 15 runners on base on Saturday, finishing 0-for-4 at the plate with the bases loaded and going 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
“We couldn’t capitalize on some things today, but you have to give credit to UNC’s pitcher,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “It was an exhausting day for both teams and it was quite the battle out there. They are one of our biggest rivals and our team played with a lot of heart today, we just couldn’t get it done. We’ll look to come back Sunday and take this series.”
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Noles were off to a good start in their one-run rally when Bailey Schinella and Erika Hoffner each recorded consecutive infield singles. Victoria East then hit into a fielder’s choice at shortstop that resulted in Schinella getting forced out at third base. UNC starter Lori Spingola (13-8) showed her true mettle when she recorded back-to-back strikeouts by FSU’s Kelly Hensley and Maddie O’Brien to close out the victory.
The loss for the Seminoles drops them to 2-4 in one-run ballgames this season. Leading Florida State on the offensive end was senior centerfielder Morgan Bullock, who finished 4-for-4 for her first career four-hit performance as a Seminole. Bullock now joins teammates Tiffani Brown, Stephanie Hartness and Courtney Senas as the players who have recorded four hits in a game this season.
Seminole starter Lacey Waldrop (10-4) took the loss after allowing four runs, with only two being earned, on four hits with five strikeouts in 4.1 innings pitched. Monica Perry came in relief and allowed one run in 2.2 innings pitched but surrendered a key two-run home run by Amber Parrish of the Tar Heels (22-10, 4-0) in the fifth inning.
Florida State is now 56-24 all-time against UNC, including 30-18 as an ACC member.
Florida State recorded 12 base hits in the contest, marking its 12th double-digit hit performance of the season. Senas and O’Brien each recorded solo home runs to give Florida State 36 for the season. The Seminoles have now homered in 21 of their 34 games this year.
UNC struck first in the top of the first inning on a sacrifice fly from Haleigh Dickey to left field, plating Erin Satterfield to give the Tar Heels an early 1-0 advantage. Florida State attempted to respond in the first inning, loading the bases with one out on two walks and a hit batter. However, Kirstin Austin’s attempted sacrifice fly to left field went awry as East was called out for leaving early from third base on the tag-up.
A couple of miscues hurt the Seminoles in the top of the second inning. UNC leadoff batter Kristen Brown struck out swinging but advanced to first base on a passed ball. With one out, she scored on a pinch-hit single by Kati Causey to make it 2-0. Another passed ball brought in another run from third base to finish the scoring at 3-0.
East stepped up in the bottom of the second inning with a two-out RBI single to right center, plating Bullock to cut the deficit to 3-1. The base hit extended East’s hit streak to nine games.
Bullock contributed to another run in the bottom of the third when she singled to right center on a 1-2 pitch, bringing home Hensley to make it 3-2 North Carolina. With two outs in the top of the fifth, Parrish delivered a two-run home run to left field to extend North Carolina’s lead to 5-2.
The Seminoles clawed back with a couple runs in the bottom half of the sixth. With one out, Senas drove a 2-0 offering from Spingola to left field for a solo home run, her 10th of the season. Two batters later with two outs, O’Brien delivered her fourth round-tripper of the season on a solo shot to left center to make it a one-run ballgame.