ORLANDO, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Junior Kelly Hensley’s three-run home run in the third inning coupled with sophomore Lacey Waldrop’s career-high 11 strikeouts highlighted No. 23 Florida State softball’s 10-3 victory at UCF on Wednesday evening at the UCF Softball Complex.
Florida State put together six runs scored in a big third inning that ultimately decided the game, as Hensley delivered her second home run of the game off starter Mackenzie Audas (3-3) to break things wide open. The Seminoles (8-2) forced Audas into a career high five walks and recorded four home runs, their most hit under head coach Lonni Alameda’s FSU coaching career that began back in 2009.
“What an offensive performance tonight,” Alameda said. “We really improved offensively and several of our hitters stepped up and rode the momentum of this game. This is the type of hitting we will need out in California and I’m hoping the plate presence we put forward tonight carries over. It also helped to get another big performance from Lacey. She pitched excellent tonight.”
Freshman Victoria East and juniors Celeste Gomez, Courtney Senas and Hensley provided the big blasts as Florida State produced nine base hits. All four round-trippers were seismic shots that landed a good distance out of the UCF ballpark.
Senas and East each finished 2-for-3 while East contributed two RBIs. Gomez and Hensley each led Florida State with three RBIs apiece.
Waldrop (4-0) had a strong pitching performance, allowing two earned runs on four hits with just one walk in six innings pitched. She began the game by extending her retired batters streak to 18 until allowing a walk in the third inning. The Chester, Va. native worked quickly and effectively, spinning several pitches that baffled the Knight (5-6) batters. Her career high 11 strikeouts broke her previous best of 10 last season against Virginia.
The Seminoles tried to get after Audas early when Tiffani Brown drew a walk to open the game and then stole second base. Senas lay down a well-placed sacrifice bunt to the right side to put Brown on third base with just one out. However, a strikeout and groundout to Audas spoiled Florida State’s first-inning possibilities and left the game scoreless.
East helped Florida State capitalize in the second inning when she turned on an inside pitch from Audas and hammered her first career home run as a Seminole to left field to give Florida State a 1-0 lead.
A six-running inning in the third extended Florida State’s lead to 7-0. Consecutive walks by Brown and Morgan Bullock and an infield single by Senas gave way for Briana Hamilton to step to the plate with no outs. Hamilton drew a bases-loaded walk to bring in a run, and Gomez followed with an RBI groundout to third base. East then hit a high-chopping RBI single to left field to bring the Seminole lead to 4-0.
The big blast of the third inning came off the bat of Hensley, who recorded a three-run home run to right center to extend Florida State’s advantage to 7-0. The round-tripper was Hensley’s second of the season.
UCF countered with two runs in the bottom of the third, as the Knights had the bases loaded with no outs to mimic Florida State’s top half. With two outs, Farrah Sullivan hit an RBI single that was fielded by Brown on the left side of second base with extraordinary effort, but resulted in an infield hit. Kalyn Cenal was then hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make the score 7-2 before Waldrop forced an inning-ending strikeout to Hayley Barrow.
Senas and Gomez added home runs in the seventh inning, both being tape-measuring blasts to left field to pad the Seminole lead to 10-2.
Florida State travels to Palm Springs, Calif. for one of the nation’s most prestigious regular-season tournaments in the Mary Nutter Classic. The Seminoles face No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 17 Stanford, No. 22 Washington, Nebraska and LIU-Brooklyn over the weekend.
Be sure to follow the Seminole softball team on its official Facebook page (Facebook.com/FSUSoftball) as well as on Twitter at @FSU_Softball.