Palm Springs, CA - The Florida State University softball team split its doubleheader on Thursday afternoon, defeating No. 25 BYU, 6-4, before losing to Oregon State, 6-5, at the Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs, Calif.
“We picked up a good win today against BYU, although some missed opportunities hurt us in the second game,” FSU head coach Lonni Alameda said. “This team continues to learn things daily, and we did some things today that we can build on as well as some things we can learn from. We’re looking to come out sharp tomorrow and get another quality victory. Every team in this field is a quality opponent and there is so much for us to gain while we’re here.”
The Seminoles (8-5) used three long balls in both games combined to their advantage. Trailing 4-3 in the third inning against the Cougars, senior Jen Lapicki drove in the go-ahead run when she smashed a two-run home run to left field on a full-count offering from pitcher Paige Affleck (4-3). Fellow senior Ashley Stager followed with an RBI groundout – a sharp shot up the middle that resulted in a diving stop and throw-out by second baseman Kristi Delahoussaye – to add a key insurance run in the fifth.
Pitcher Sarah Hamilton (4-3) pitched her fifth complete game of the season against BYU to get the win. The Tallahassee native scattered four hits and gave up four runs while striking out seven. Two of Hamilton’s runs were unearned in the first contest, with a four-run third frame by the Cougars being her only blemish as she continued to mix her pitches well and keep the offense guessing.
The victory against BYU marks the second Top-25 win this season for FSU. The Seminoles defeated No. 24 Kentucky last weekend, 2-0, with Hamilton in the circle. She now has 60 strikeouts in 43.2 innings pitched this season, holding the opposition to a .204 batting average.
Junior Shayla Jackson was the lone Seminole to record multiple hits against BYU, going 2-for-3 with a double. FSU helped itself in the running game, stealing four bases in the contest.
FSU went up 3-0 in the second inning, starting with freshman Celeste Gomez’s infield single to the pitcher that scored Lapicki. After Gomez stole second base while Jackson stole third base, senior Mallory Borden drove in the game’s second run on an RBI groundout to second base. Another infield single by Courtney Senas to the shortstop capped the strong inning.
Following BYU’s four-run outburst in the third inning, Hamilton closed the game out by retiring 12 of her final 13 batters faced.
FSU fought back against the Beavers but fell short in an exciting seventh inning. Tiffani Brown continued her hot stretch at the plate by finishing 3-for-4 to raise her batting average to .400 (18-for-45) through the first 13 games. She has now hit safely in six consecutive games.
Stager, Robin Ahrberg and Kelly Hensley added two hits apiece. Stager tallied her first home run of the season on a two-run round-tripper to left field in the third inning, helping FSU retake the lead at 3-2. Previously, Ahrberg hit an RBI single to centerfield to score Brown as FSU tallied all three runs with two outs.
The Beavers came back with a run in the fourth and three more in the fifth inning, as FSU’s four errors proved costly in providing unearned runs.
In the sixth, FSU climbed back in the game when pinch-hitter Briana Hamilton drove the first pitch she saw over the centerfield fence, a two-run homer that cut the deficit to 6-5. FSU threatened again in the seventh with runners on first and second base with just one out, but the Seminoles could not muster another hit.
FSU returns with just one game on Friday afternoon, facing Northwestern at 3 p.m. PST. The Seminoles wrap up with two games on Saturday against Long Beach State and San Diego State at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., respectively.