OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (Seminoles.com) – No. 8 seeded Florida State softball’s daunting offense faced a formidable foe in No. 1 seed Oregon and fell on Thursday afternoon, 3-0, in its opening game of the 2014 Women’s College World Series at ASA Stadium in Oklahoma City.
The Ducks (55-7-1) used their short game all afternoon to put runners on base, then came through with timely hits that gave them the cushion needed to win the all-important first game. Oregon was also paced by staff ace and Pac 12 Pitcher of the Year Cheridan Hawkins (34-4). She kept Florida State’s bats silent by allowing just one hit in a complete-game effort, striking out six and walking two.
“Credit Oregon for a well-played game,” FSU head coach Lonni Alameda said. “They did a good job of putting pressure on us all day. Obviously this isn’t the result we wanted but we’ve got a strong team who will try to fight back on Saturday. We’ll look to make some adjustments, get some swings intomorrow and come out sharp in a couple days.”
USA Softball National Player of the Year Lacey Waldrop (38-6) of FSU absorbed the loss but did not allow Oregon’s hot-hitting lineup to catch fire. The Ducks entered the game batting .349, third-best in the nation, but Waldrop’s 10 hits allowed also led to nine runners left on base as she was able to work herself out of jams and keep the Seminoles (55-8) within striking distance. Waldrop finished the game allowing three earned runs while recording two strikeouts and surrendering just one walk.
Florida State redshirt freshman pitcher Jessica Burroughs also earned time in the circle, entering the game with a runner on first base in the bottom of the sixth. The Warner Robins, Ga., native made a quality relief appearance as she managed to get out of a no-out jam with runners on first and second base. Burroughs induced a short pop-up from Courtney Ceo, the NCAA’s leader with a .492 batting average, then forced a strikeout and a groundout to get out of the inning unscathed.
National Fastpitch Coaches Association First-Team All-American Maddie O’Brien was one of four players to reach base today, providing the ‘Noles with their only hit on a leadoff single to right field to start the game. Senior Courtney Senas and redshirt senior Briana Hamilton drew walks, while redshirt senior Tiffani Brown reached base on a fielding error in the sixth.
“She was more of an off-speed pitcher than we’ve seen much of this season,” Maddie O’Brien said of Oregon starter Cheridan Hawkins. “She spins the ball real well and got us out in front all day. She’s a great pitcher.”
Three Oregon players finished with multiple-hit games, as Janie Takeda (2-for-4), Alexa Peterson (2-for-4) and Nikki Udria (2-for-4) all garnered two hits apiece.
The top of the FSU lineup threatened Hawkins in the top of the first, but came away with no runs. O’Brien started the game with a single to right field, then advanced to second base with one out when Senas drew a walk in what was a 10-pitch at-bat. However, a strikeout by Hamilton and a groundout by Kelly Hensley ended the top half scoreless.
Janelle Lindvall’s RBI groundout to the right side brought home Alyssa Gillespie to give the Ducks an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. The big hit of the inning came on a one-out single by Janie Takeda that brought Gillespie from first to third base and put her in scoring position.
The Ducks got a big two-out single up the middle by Nikki Udria in the bottom of the second to plate Alexa Peterson and extend the Oregon lead to 2-0. Karine Shaver’s sacrifice bunt allowed Peterson to reach second base and eventually wind up scoring when FSU’s throw home sailed over the head of catcher Celeste Gomez on Udria’s hit. Waldrop battled back and induced a groundout by Gillespie to finish the second inning.
Another two-out RBI paid big dividends for Oregon in the bottom of the fifth. Koral Costa provided the Ducks with their first extra-base hit of the game with a double to left field, and Peterson followed with a run-scoring double down the left field line on an 0-1 pitch to give UO a three-run cushion.
The Seminoles attempted to make one last comeback bid in the top of the seventh when Hamilton started the inning with a walk, FSU’s second lead-off player to reach base. Hensley then made solid contact off Hawkins but delivered a deep fly ball out at left field toward the warning track. A subsequent strikeout and a flyout to centerfield by Victoria East ended the game.
“We’ve got to stay together and make adjustments for this next game coming up,” O’Brien added. “We’ve got to stay together and we’ll need everyone to step up on Saturday.”
Florida State will play in the first elimination game of the WCWS against 13th-seeded Baylor on Saturday, May 31, at 12 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT. The winner of Saturday’s game will play later that day at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT.
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