LOS ANGELES, Calif. (seminoles.com) – Spectacular pitching throughout the UCLA Regionals this weekend just wasn’t enough for the 20th-ranked Florida State University softball team as it fell once again to San Diego State by a 1-0 score to end a fulfilling 2012 season.
The Seminoles (47-16) came into the weekend boasting the nation’s 11th-best earned run average, a mark that lowered even more thanks to some superb pitching by FSU ace Monica Perry. The Whitesburg, Ga., native was clicking on all cylinders this weekend, and gave FSU one of its biggest victories of the season earlier in the day when the Seminoles eliminated 11-time national champion UCLA by a 2-1 score in the Bruins’ (36-20) ballpark.
In three games at the UCLA Regionals, FSU allowed just one earned run in 20 innings pitched, equaling an incredible 0.35 ERA. Perry allowed one earned run in 16.1 innings pitched while walking just two and striking out 11 in her three appearances.
In FSU’s four nationally-ranked wins this season that include victories over UCLA, North Carolina twice and LSU, it was Perry who pitched in the circle. Perry (22-6) delivered a complete-game performance against UCLA and let up just one run and six hits with six strikeouts. The biggest hit of the game for FSU came on Briana Hamilton's solo home run in the second inning, her 12th of the season, to give FSU a 2-0 advantage.
Head coach Lonni Alameda now owns 14 Top 25 victories since coming to FSU in 2009, as UCLA is ranked 14th in the latest ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll.
Against San Diego State, FSU’s pitching allowed just one base hit in 22 at-bats, as starter Lacey Waldrop, Jessica Nori (4-4) and Perry proved to be effective against another talented offense. The Aztecs’ (32-23) lone run came on a fielding error by FSU that scored pinch runner Roshana Lavery in the fourth inning.
The Seminoles struck out a season high 14 times against San Diego State starter Bailey Micetich (17-7), who earned two wins over FSU this weekend and scattered five hits in Saturday evening’s elimination game. Shayla Jackson ended her successful career in style, recording two singles while Maddie O’Brien, Courtney Senas and Briana Hamilton also produced a base hit. Senas’ went extra bases with her second triple of the year.
“At the end of the game someone has to win and someone has to lose,” head coach Lonni Alameda said of her team’s season-ending loss. “We accomplished a lot of good things this season. I’m really proud of the way Monica pitched this weekend. In the end, things didn’t go our way, but we’ll take a little time off and already start preparing for next year.”
Jackson finishes her career at FSU as the team’s batting champion in her final year, hitting .304. The Pembroke Pines, Fla., native went 4-for-8 in this weekend’s NCAA Regionals, and finishes with a .324 career batting average.
In FSU’s first game against the Bruins, an illegal pitch by UCLA starter Jessica Hall (19-14) created FSU’s first run of the game, scoring Tiffani Brown from third base in the first inning. Brown led off the inning with a lining single to right center on a 2-2 pitch, then was pushed to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Jackson. After O’Brien walked and eventually advanced to third base on the illegal pitch, Senas battled in her at-bat but wound up flying out to right field.
O’Brien would finish the UCLA game with three walks.
Hamilton jumped all over a 1-1 fastball in the second inning for her 12th home run of the season, a solo shot to centerfield to make it 2-0. The round-tripper moved Hamilton into a tie for second place on the single-season home runs list at FSU, tying her with former player Yuruby Alicart.
In the fourth inning, Perry allowed a leadoff double to Andrea Harrison in what was UCLA’s first base hit of the game. B.B. Bates followed with a groundout to the right side that advanced Harris to third base, but a subsequent ground ball to second base was hit too hard to bring home a run. Perry ended the inning by inducing a pop-out to Kellie Fox.
Perry showed her true mettle in the remaining three innings of play. In the fifth, Talee Snow recorded a double down the left field line with one out and a runner on first base to put two runners in scoring position. The next batter, Katie Schroeder, hit a shallow fly ball to Tiffani Brown in short right center in what became a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1. Perry then forced Stephany LaRosa into an inning-ending groundout to prevent further damage.
Drama ensued in the seventh after Perry forced a popout and a strikeout for the first two outs of the inning. Talee Snow’s hard-fought at-bat resulted in a single through the right side. Schroeder then swung at the first pitch and hit an in-between infield hit that put runners on first base and third base with two outs. Finally, LaRosa grounded out to Maddie O’Brien at shortstop to end an exciting ballgame.
FSU’s 47-16 overall record marks the most wins by a Seminole softball squad since the 2004 season, highlighting another successful season. The season-ending loss also marks the final games for FSU seniors Shayla Jackson, Mallory Borden and Amber Bryant.
Throughout the offseason, stay updated with the FSU softball team through all its communication outlets, including the team’s Facebook page, @FSU_Softball on Twitter and Seminoles.com.