Tallahassee, FL - Led by an inspired pitching effort from sophomore Lacey Waldrop, the Florida State softball team fought back with two wins on Sunday afternoon over North Carolina to win the three-game set taking place at JoAnne Graf Field.
Waldrop (12-4) earned two victories against the rival Tar Heels (22-12, 4-2) as Florida State came back from a Saturday afternoon loss to win two critical conference games. The Seminoles (26-10, 5-1) earned a 9-1 win in five innings in game one before winning a 3-1 nail-biter in the second game of the twinbill.
“Today was a real gutsy performance from Lacey,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “She was a workhorse for us and pitched so well today and gave us everything she had. It was big to come up on the right side of things today and it was a total team effort. We’re 5-1 right now in the ACC and we need to keep taking that one-game-at-a-time approach. I was real proud of the way we responded today.”
Waldrop finished 2-0 in two games started on Sunday with an impressive 0.62 ERA. The Chester, Va. native threw a five-inning complete game in game one and allowed just one hit with four strikeouts to a talented offensive group. In game two, she pitched 6.1 frames and allowed just one run on six hits with six strikeouts. Waldrop is now 12-4 this season with a team-leading 1.45 ERA.
Perry notched her first save of the season in game two after replacing Waldrop with one out in the sixth inning. The Whitesburg, Ga. native struck out UNC’s Haleigh Dickey to end the game with the bases loaded.
Florida State is now 58-24 against UNC since playing each other in 1984. The Seminoles own a 32-18 edge as rivals in ACC play.
The Seminoles combined to go 13-for-45 (.289) off three Tar Heel pitchers on Sunday. Junior Courtney Senas amassed four RBIs, including a walk-off solo home run, in the first game. Junior Kelly Hensley led the offense in game two off pitcher Lori Spingola (13-9), going 2-for-3 with all three RBIs.
Senas and Hensley each recorded one home run on Sunday, tying for the team lead with 11 apiece. They are just the second duo to post double-digit home runs in a season at Florida State, joining former players Yuruby Alicart (14) and Veronica Wootson (11) in the 2007 season.
The Seminoles are also chasing the school record for home runs in a season. The 2007 squad posted 49 home runs, while the 2013 team has 39 through just 36 games and is on pace to break the mark.
North Carolina got on the scoreboard first in the top of the second inning. Kristen Brown hit a chopping fielder’s choice ball to Senas at third base, which resulted in a rundown between third base and home for pinch runner Aquilla Mateen. Mateen ended up sliding in at home safely to put the Tar Heels ahead early at 1-0.
Florida State put up five big runs in the top of the second inning. Senas stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs and worked her way to a full count before ripping a three-run triple down the right field line to give Florida State a 3-1 lead. Hensley followed with a two-run home run to centerfield, her 11th of the season, to increase the lead to 5-1.
A four-run performance in the bottom of the fifth put the game away for Florida State’s 12th mercy-rule win of the season. Junior Celeste Gomez came up in a pinch-hit at-bat and had two runners on base when she smacked a three-run home run to centerfield. Senas finished the game with a walk-off solo blast to left field, her 11th of the year. Senas and Hensley have now hit home runs in six of the same games as they both chase after the school home run record of 14 held by Yuruby Alicart in 2007.
In game two, Hensley provided an important two-run single through the left side to plate Kat Allen and Senas, giving the Seminoles a 2-0 lead. Hensley came through with her third RBI in the bottom of the fifth on a near identical run-scoring single through the left side, adding to Florida State’s lead at 3-0. It was Hensley’s team-leading 12th multiple-RBI game of the year.
Waldrop and the Seminoles escaped a potentially large jam in the top of the fourth inning in the second contest. Dickey led off with a single up the middle and Constance Orr followed with a double down the right field line to put two runners in scoring position. However, Waldrop came back to record three straight groundouts to the left side that did not advance any runners to get out of the inning unscathed.
Another pressure situation occurred for Florida State in the top of the seventh holding a three-run lead. Waldrop started the frame and allowed a leadoff walk before getting Elisha Elliott to ground out to first base. With a runner on second base, Kristen Brown hit a bloop single to right field to put runners on the corners with just one out.
Perry entered the game in the save situation and allowed an RBI single to pinch hitter Lauren Walker, cutting the Seminole lead to 3-1. Perry fought back to record a key strikeout against Mateen before hitting Erin Satterfield to load the bases with two outs. With one of North Carolina’s biggest power threats up in Dickey, Perry struck her out on a 2-2 pitch to give Florida State the series win.
The Seminoles travel to face rival and No. 3-rated Florida on Wednesday, March 27 at 6 p.m. The game will be televised on either Sun Sports or Fox Sports Florida.