Austin, TX - The 19th-ranked Florida State softball team hung right with No. 4 seed Texas through four innings until four runs in the fifth were too much for FSU to overcome as it fell 4-0 on Sunday afternoon in the NCAA Super Regionals at McCombs Field.
The loss effectively puts an end to the Seminoles’ (44-19) season that was highlighted by their first NCAA Super Regional appearance since 2006. A leadoff home run in the fifth by Texas’ Karina Scott and a two-run shot by Taylor Thom highlighted a four-run inning that was more than enough to get past Florida State as it struggled all afternoon with Longhorn (49-8) starter Blaire Luna (30-5).
Luna recorded her fourth no-hitter of the season, as Florida State was no-hit for the first time since April 23, 2011 against Maryland. She struck out 13 of her 21 batters faced while allowing one walk.
“Blaire Luna is a great pitcher. At this point in the season for her to throw a no-hitter is good for her,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “They made some great adjustments at the plate just like teams going to the Women’s College World Series should be doing. I’m extremely proud of this season and all that we accomplished. I think we are a storied team in all the adversity we had to overcome. We had a lot of heart and chemistry and that was helped out a lot by our seniors.”
Overcoming injuries all season to put Florida State in a position the program had not been in several years, the offense was unable to do much with the command displayed by Luna in the circle. The Seminoles did a good job of working the count in several at-bats but were unable to muster any momentum-changing plays at the plate.
Sophomore pitcher Lacey Waldrop (24-10) took the loss despite pitching well once again. The Chester, Va. native allowed one earned run on five hits with three strikeouts in 4.1 innings pitched. Her 24 victories this season are the most by a Seminole since Terese Gober had the same amount in 2009.
Florida State seniors Monica Perry, Morgan Bullock and Kirstin Austin ended their careers on Sunday afternoon. Perry enjoyed another fine season as a Nole, finishing 19-9 with a 1.95 ERA. The Whitesburg, Ga. native practically saved Florida State’s season at the South Alabama Regional by tossing 10 shutout innings and earning the biggest win of the season after defeating the Jaguars in the elimination game.
Bullock ended a career year finishing first on the team with a .346 batting average. She finishes her four-year career with a solid .313 batting average and ignited the Seminoles in several ways on the offensive end in her final year.
Austin showed remarkable improvement in her three years at Florida State, highlighted by leading the Seminoles in hitting in ACC play the last two seasons. The Temple Terrace, Fla. native batted .333 this season and became a stalwart left fielder. For her career, Austin finishes with a .306 batting average.
In the second inning of game one, Texas threatened to score when Kim Bruins led off with a single and eventually reached third base with one out. Waldrop forced Karina Scott to line out to second base on a nice catch by Kelly Hensley, then Victoria East made a nice back-handed pick at first base off a sharp grounder from Gabby Smith to end the top of the second.
For the third consecutive inning, East made a sharp defensive play to end the fourth inning. In the top of the fourth, Taylor Thom led off with a double down the left field line. After Waldrop induced a flyout to Mandy Ogle, Kim Bruins lined out to Maddie O’Brien at shortstop for the second out. Speedy slap-hitter Torie Schmidt came to the plate and slapped a grounder to East at first base, who made the pick and dove to the bag to just beat Schmidt down the line to finish the frame.
Hensley drew a walk to begin the bottom of the fourth, giving Florida State its first base runner of the game. Nothing was done with the leadoff walk as Bullock grounded into a fielder’s choice, then was caught stealing. O’Brien then struck out to end the bottom of the fourth.
Following Texas’ four-run fifth inning, the Longhorns nearly added more runs in the sixth. Texas had both runners in scoring position with no outs, but pinch hitter Erin Shireman struck out swinging for the first out. Austin then made a great catch on a line drive in left field off the bat of Stephanie Ceo, then threw out Rachel Scott at second base for the double play.
While Florida State loses three key seniors, several valuable performers will return to their health to assist a strong core that comes back next season. The ACC regular-season champions will be expected to challenge once again for the conference crown and perhaps go somewhere it has not been since 2004 – the NCAA Women’s College World Series.
Stay tuned to Seminoles.com as well as Florida State softball’s Twitter handle (@FSU_Softball) and Facebook page (Facebook.com/FSUsoftball) to keep up with all the offseason coverage heading into the 2014 year.