Tallahassee - The No. 10/11-ranked Florida State softball team (24-4, 5-2 ACC) grabbed two big wins on Saturday night over NC State (15-8, 6-2 ACC). The Seminoles led throughout game one, cruising to a 4-1 victory, while they needed a grand slam from Maddie O’Brien to secure a come-from-behind 4-2 win in game two.
“I get excited to watch this team fight and put in the work every day to be successful,” said head coach Lonni Alameda. “Maddie puts a ton of time in the cage, Courtney is always in there and the whole family is playing for each other right now. It is a lot of fun.”
The Seminoles grabbed an early lead on NC State starter Emily Weiman in game one as Tiffani Brown led off the third inning with an infield single. Courtney Senas then walked and both runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. O’Brien brought in the first run of the game on a groundout to the first baseman.
Two batters later, Victoria East slapped her second hit of the game into right field to score Senas and make it 2-0 FSU after the third inning.
Florida State brought in two more runs in the fifth as O’Brien led off the inning with a single to right. Bailey Schinella hit into a fielder’s choice and NC State first baseman Leah Jones threw the ball away allowing O’Brien to be safe at second.
A pair of walks to Kelly Hensley and Briana Hamilton brought in the third FSU run of the game. Celeste Gomez then hit a sacrifice fly to right field to bring in Schinella and make it 4-0 Florida State. Hensley played in her first games since opening day, coming back from an injury. She finished with two walks in game one and added another free pass in game two.
Lacey Waldrop was in full control over the NC State batters in her complete game victory in game one. A single to Hanna Sommer in the second and a hit-by-pitch to Kirsty Grant in the third were the only blemishes on her record until she allowed a home run to Molly Hutchison to lead off the seventh. Waldrop had retired 11 straight batters until that point.
The junior from Chester, Va., closed out game one with three quick outs and finished with 7.0 innings, two hits, zero walks and nine strikeouts. It marked the fourth straight appearance of allowing two or fewer hits and she averaged over nine strikeouts per game during that stretch.
NC State came out strong in game two as Renada Davis led off the game with a double to the wall in left. She was brought in to score on consecutive ground outs to O’Brien at short to make it 1-0 NC State after the top of the first.
The Wolfpack added another run in the third as they drew two walks and scored on a throwing error by Hamilton trying to double off Davis at first. The walk by Waldrop snapped a streak of 16.2 innings where she had not given up a walk, dating back to the Virginia Tech game on March 11.
NC State starter Courtney Mirabella proved difficult to figure out for the Seminole hitters. The freshman scattered five base runners, including two hits, and recorded three strikeouts in 4.1 innings of work. She was replaced by Weiman (13-7) after allowing a leadoff walk to Hamilton and a single to Alex Kossoff.
That may have been a poor decision by the Wolfpack as Brown loaded the bases with an infield single to extend her hitting streak to 13 games.
Two batters later, O’Brien battled to a full count and fouled off several pitches before crushing a Weiman fastball deep over the center field fence for a grand slam, giving FSU a 4-2 lead. It was her second grand slam of the season and her 10th home run of the year. O’Brien has now reached base in all 28 games this season and has recorded 16 multi-RBI games.
“I was struggling all day and my Seminole family got on base for me,” said O’Brien. “If they can get on base, they are counting on me to drive them in. I just tried to see the ball up and deliver for my family. We are all working for each other.”
Waldrop pitched another gem in game two as she settled down after allowing those two quick runs in the first and the third. She retired 14 of the final 16 batters she faced to grab her second complete game victory of the day. She finished game two with 7.0 innings pitched, allowing three hits, two runs, one earned, three walks and five strikeouts.
“Lacey is all heart and we’ve known that from day one,” added Alameda. “She kind of had them tied up in knots after the first game, so we thought we’d go for another seven and see what we could get. She didn’t have her best stuff, but the team played behind her, which is a great mark of a program. I just love the way they are playing for each other.”
The series finale will be played at 10:00 a.m. on Sun., March 16. With rain in the forecast for Sunday, the game time was moved up from the originally scheduled 12:00 p.m. first pitch.
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