Tallahassee, FL - The Florida State softball team picked up two momentum-building victories on Sunday afternoon at the Sunshine Classic, defeating Minnesota in game one, 4-3, and Georgia Southern in game two, 12-3 (5), at JoAnne Graf Field.
The Seminoles (23-9) rebounded against a talented Gophers (16-10) team in the first game of the twinbill, winning a competitive one-run ballgame. Trailing 3-2 going into the bottom of the sixth inning, junior catcher Celeste Gomez launched an energizing two-run home run to left center on a 2-2 offering to allow Florida State to retake the one-run lead. The home run was Gomez’s fifth of the season.
Against Minnesota and its ace pitcher Sara Moulton (14-6), the Seminoles put together five hits. Following Gomez’s big hit, reliever Lacey Waldrop (10-3) finished the game in the top of the seventh. Waldrop forced consecutive groundouts by Tyler Walker and Kari Dorle before allowing a double to centerfield by hot-hitting Kaitlyn Richardson. However, the sophomore pitcher kept her poise and ended the exciting game on a swinging strikeout from Bree Blanchette to get the win.
“The first game against Minnesota was an extremely competitive game and really gave our team some energy going into game two,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “It was a good day overall to get a couple wins over two good opponents. We turn our focus now to a quality SEC team in Auburn who will be another good test for us this week.”
Waldrop wound up winning both games on Sunday, allowing three runs with none being earned in the game two victory over Georgia Southern. She finished 2-0 on the day with no earned runs allowed and totaled 11 strikeouts and seven innings pitched.
Junior Kelly Hensley put together a career performance in game two, finishing 3-for-3 with a career-high six RBIs against the Eagles (14-14). The Niceville, Fla. native had a two-run double in the first inning, an RBI double in the second and a three-run home run to end the game in mercy-rule fashion in the fifth. For Florida State, it was its 11th mercy-rule win of the season and 11th game with double digit base hits.
Hensley’s six RBIs match the production of redshirt sophomore Maddie O’Brien on March 5, 2012, when she recorded six RBIs in a win over UC-Santa Barbara in Honolulu, Hawaii. Former player Kaleigh Rafter also put together six RBIs on April 25, 2009 against Virginia.
Against Georgia Southern, senior Morgan Bullock tied her career high with three base hits. Victoria East finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored, as Florida State went 10-for-25 against three Georgia Southern pitchers.
A few notable streaks ended on Sunday, as Florida State’s Courtney Senas’ stretch of reaching base safely in 16 consecutive games came to a close following the Seminoles’ win over Minnesota. Hensley reached 13 straight games of getting on base before stopping the streak against the Gophers.
Senior Kirstin Austin’s 14-game hit streak ended against Georgia Southern. Austin’s hit streak matches last year’s team season high set by former player Shayla Jackson.
With two outs in the top of the fourth inning in game one, Minnesota’s Alex Davis protected with two strikes and recorded a run-scoring single up the middle to score Kaitlyn Richardson and make it 1-0. Richardson led off the inning with a hit-by-pitch and stole second base before being driven home.
Bailey Schinella provided an important pinch-hit two-run single up the middle in the bottom of the fourth, chopping a one-bagger to bring home Bullock and Austin. Both base runners reached base on singles.
The Gophers responded with a big two-out hit of their own, as Bree Blanchette laced a bases-loaded two-run single through the left side to help Minnesota regain the one-run lead in the top of the fifth prior to Gomez’s game-winning homer.
In game two, Florida State notched four runs in the top of the first against Georgia Southern, as Hensley’s two-run double to the right center gap gave the Seminoles a 2-0 advantage. Bullock then singled through the left side to bring in two more runs, making it 4-0. Bullock finished both games going 4-for-6 with three runs scored and two stolen bases.
The Seminoles added another run in the bottom of the second inning when Hensley again came through with an RBI double to left center, making it 5-0. Georgia Southern came back with three runs in the top of the third inning, with Shelby Morrill doubling in two runs with two outs to highlight the three-run third.
Austin scored in the bottom of the third when she advanced home on a throwing error from Eagle catcher A.J. Hamilton. Schinella then recorded an RBI groundout to the right side to pad the lead at 7-3 before scoring five more runs in a walk-off fifth.
The Seminoles head to Auburn for a non-conference matchup on the road on Tuesday, March 19 at 6 p.m. Florida State then returns home to host rival North Carolina on March 23 in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.