TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – The Florida State University softball team took another step in the right direction on Saturday, defeating 24th-ranked Kentucky, 2-0, before topping Middle Tennessee State, 11-1, at the Garnet and Gold Tournament at JoAnne Graf Field.
The Seminoles (7-3) won an entertaining pitcher’s duel in their first game of the afternoon against the Wildcats (7-2). The contest featured two of the better pitchers in the nation – FSU’s Sarah Hamilton (3-2) and Kentucky’s Chanda Bell (3-1). Bell was working on a perfect game in her previous start in the tournament against Georgia Southern before losing the bid in the seventh and final inning.
“Sarah came out and pitched great for us once again,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “This team continues to improve and we have another shot to beat a solid ballclub in Kentucky tomorrow. Yesterday it was our hitting that stuck out for us, and today our pitching carried us in both games. We are very excited to have another opportunity in playing a quality SEC school.”
On Saturday, Hamilton got the best of the duel by throwing a complete-game shutout. The Tallahassee native allowed six hits, struck out seven, and walked two against 28 Kentucky batters. The senior leader changed her speeds all afternoon, throwing the Wildcats off balance throughout the game.
Bell was also impressive after surrendering just three hits. She allowed two runs in six innings and struck out four.
FSU’s first big opportunity against Bell and the Wildcats came in the bottom of the fourth inning. Sophomore Tiffani Brown led off the inning with a hard triple to the left center gap, then advanced home on a single to centerfield by Kelly Hensley. Jen Lapicki then stepped to the plate and hit a double down the left field line to plate Ashley Stager, who reached base earlier on a hit-by-pitch. The run-scoring hit by Lapicki created the final 2-0 score.
Brown led the Seminoles with three hits on the day, going 3-for-6 with three RBIs, three runs scored and one stolen base. Freshman Courtney Senas and Lapicki added two hits apiece, with Senas swiping three bases.
In the second game, FSU trailed early on a solo home run by the Blue Raiders’ (1-5) Kayla Toney. However, the Seminoles bounced back quickly when Brown’s single in the bottom of the first inning brought in Senas, who stole consecutive bases in Brown’s at-bat.
Four more runs were scored in the second frame, including two on Robin Ahrberg’s single to centerfield. Brown and Ahrberg then scored on throwing errors to extend FSU’s lead to 5-1. In the sixth, Brown added a two-run single, and Hensley later scored on another of Middle Tennessee State’s five errors in the game.
Redshirt freshman pitcher Jessica Nori (2-1) took the win after allowing one run in three innings of the mercy-rule affair. Lauren Varsalona and Morgan Bullock also came in relief and pitched one shutout inning apiece.
FSU gets a rematch with No. 24 Kentucky on Sunday afternoon at approximately 12:30 p.m. to determine the champion of the Garnet and Gold Tournament. The consolation game features Middle Tennessee State and Georgia Southern at 10 a.m.