Mobile, AL - Behind another outstanding pitching performance from Lacey Waldrop as well as clutch hitting from Maddie O’Brien, the 19th-ranked Florida State softball team defeated No. 13 national seed South Alabama, 2-1, on Saturday afternoon at Jaguar Field.
Changing her speeds and keeping an accomplished Jaguar (46-8) offense on edge, Waldrop recorded her second win of the NCAA Regional by striking out 10 and allowing six hits in seven innings pitched. The Chester, Va. native allowed only one walk, which occurred in a climactic seventh inning. Waldrop (24-8) now has seven double-digit strikeout performances this season. Her 24 victories on the season are the most by a Seminole since Terese Gober had the same amount in 2009.
“This team has so much fight in them and today was another example of that,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “Once again Lacey pitched great for us against a tough team, and we knew this would be a pitcher’s duel with the players they have in the circle. Maddie did a great job of staying composed in the box and exploiting her chances, and it turned out to be huge for us and put us in an ideal situation.”
The sophomore pitcher was helped out by the slugging of O’Brien, who was responsible for Florida State’s two runs with a solo home run and an RBI single off the nation’s ERA leader in Hannah Campbell (22-8). Campbell entered the contest with a 0.84 ERA and pitched brilliantly once again, striking out five and allowing five hits in the loss.
The Seminoles have won their first two games of an NCAA Regional and stay in the winner’s bracket on the final day for the first time since 2006. In that season, the Seminoles won the Athens Regional by defeating Georgia, 2-0, in a winner-takes-all seventh game.
Florida State will play the winner of South Alabama and either Mississippi State or Mississippi Valley State on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. CT. If the Seminoles win their opening game on Sunday, they will reach the super regional round. Should they fall, a winner-takes-all scenario will occur on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT.
The win for Florida State helped avenge a 4-0 loss to the Jaguars earlier in the season. The Seminoles are now 4-2 all-time against South Alabama. The victory was also significant for Florida State because South Alabama is ranked 15th in the latest ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll, giving the Seminoles their third Top 25 win of the season.
Florida State’s Top 25 victory is the 17th under Alameda since she took over the program in 2009. It ties for the sixth-highest ranked team the Seminoles have defeated under the fifth-year head coach.
While O’Brien sparked Florida State with her 2-for-3 day at the plate, Kelly Hensley, Kirstin Austin and Bailey Schinella each added singles for the Seminoles.
The first runner in scoring position occurred in the bottom of the second for the Jaguars. Following a strikeout by Haley Fagan, Kaitlyn Griffith hit a double off the left field wall for the game’s first base hit. Meghan Collins then hit a ball up the middle that was gloved nicely by Hensley at second base as she tossed Collins out at first base. The grounder advanced Griffith to third base with two outs, and Waldrop struck out Alex Breeden to end the scoring threat.
O’Brien dug into the batter’s box in the fourth inning and immediately got behind with an 0-2 count. The redshirt sophomore then belted a solo home run to right field, her 10th of the season, to give the Seminoles a 1-0 lead and break up Campbell’s perfect-game quest. O’Brien’s home run gives Florida State four players in Courtney Senas (14), Kelly Hensley (12), Celeste Gomez (10) and O’Brien (10) with double-digit home runs, an unprecedented number in school history.
Hensley followed with a single down the left field line in the same inning, but Morgan Bullock ended the inning on a slow ground ball to second base that she nearly beat out running to first base.
O’Brien came through again in the sixth inning. With runners on second and third base and one out, she ripped a run-scoring single to left center. O’Brien tried to force a first and third rundown rounding the bag, and Victoria East was ultimately thrown out at home plate. Schinella started the inning with a pinch-hit bloop single to centerfield, and Courtney Adams wound up scoring on the O’Brien hit.
Florida State held on in a hectic seventh inning. Waldrop began the frame by forcing a groundout from Griffith. She then walked Collins on four pitches, but got Breeden to strike out looking for the second out. Emily Messer kept the game alive by hitting a single that bounced off the glove of Waldrop on a comebacker, putting runners on first and second base.
Britany Campbell stepped in as the game-winning run at the plate and delivered an RBI single to centerfield and reached second base on a throwing error from centerfield. With two runners in scoring position and two outs, Waldrop struck out Brittany Fowler to end the game.
Florida State’s game at 4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. CT on Sunday will once again be shown on ESPN3. Should a deciding game occur at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT, that contest will also air on ESPN3.