Tallahassee, FL - Boosted by a clutch three-run home run from sophomore Briana Hamilton, the Florida State University softball team defeated Mercer in walk-off fashion in game one, 5-4, and never looked back as it won game two, 3-0, on Tuesday evening at JoAnne Graf Field.
In the first game, the Seminoles (21-21) won their first walk-off contest of the season when junior Shayla Jackson laced a double to right center in the seventh inning with sophomore Tiffani Brown on first base with one out. Brown flew around the basepaths and voraciously rounded third base as Mercer’s relay throw looked to beat her at home plate. Brown, however, was able to slide around the attempted tag by catcher Sarah Santana and provide the walk-off heroics.
“It feels good to finally get a walk-off win in our favor,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “We don’t know what kind of position we would be in if Bri (Hamilton) didn’t come through with that big home run. I definitely think today’s games were two good team wins – we provided hits when it counted and continued to get great pitching from (Jessica) Nori and (Sarah) Hamilton.”
The first game was somewhat turbulent at first for FSU. Down 2-0 in the bottom of the third, Jackson hit a big RBI to left center to cut the deficit to 2-1. Mercer responded with two runs in the fourth inning, including one where it failed a bases loaded suicide squeeze yet scored from third base as FSU was unable to tag Randi Rea in a rundown situation.
Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the fourth, Robin Ahrberg led off with a single through the left side, and Celeste Gomez followed with a hit by pitch to put two runners on base. Two batters later, Hamilton drove a 3-2 offering from Mercer starter Jenni Holtz (10-9) over the right field wall to tie the game at 4-4.
Shutting down the Bears for most of the game was FSU pitcher Jessica Nori (3-4). The Weston, Fla., native threw 6.2 innings of relief and did not allowed an earned run on six hits with a career-high six strikeouts. In Nori’s last six appearances, including three Atlantic Coast Conference starts, she has allowed just six earned runs in 32.2 innings pitched for a 1.29 ERA.
Jackson led FSU with two extra-base hits and two RBIs in game one, while Ahrberg added two singles.
Senior pitcher Sarah Hamilton (13-13) took over in game two, throwing her 17th complete game and sixth shutout of the season while allowing just two hits with 10 strikeouts. The Tallahassee native now is just 21 strikeouts away from breaking Tiffany McDonald’s school record of 939.
Like Jackson in game one, Gomez provided two doubles for the Seminoles in the second contest in the second and sixth innings. FSU outhit the Bears in the game, 5-2.
Morgan Bullock provided the first run of the game in the bottom of the second when she hit an important two-out, opposite-field single to left field to drive in Gomez and make it 1-0. FSU then manufactured its second run in the third when Ashley Stager hit an RBI groundout to the third baseman.
Gomez produced an insurance run in the sixth inning when she drove in Stager on a lining double down the left field line, creating the game’s final score at 3-0.
The Seminole return with another doubleheader on Wednesday beginning at 4 p.m. at JoAnne Graf Field versus North Florida. All FSU students with a valid ID will be treated to free pizza, and fans will be given leis as part of the Luau Night festivities.