AUSTIN, Texas (seminoles.com) – After shutting down No. 4 seeded Texas early, the 19th-ranked Florida State softball team was unable to hold its 2-0 advantage as Texas chipped away for a 3-2 victory on Saturday evening in front of 1,285 fans in game one of the NCAA Super Regionals at McCombs Field.
Despite a strong effort by pitcher Lacey Waldrop against one of the country’s best offensive units, one-run innings by the Longhorns in the fourth, fifth and sixth frames were enough to get past a Florida State squad that was unable to capitalize on its chances and left 10 runners on base.
“This was a tough one to lose, but I’m proud of the way we fought and handled ourselves,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “There’s no reason to change our game plan tomorrow. We went toe-to-toe with them and just couldn’t hold our lead against a good offense. I’m proud of Lacey’s effort tonight and the energy our team had. We’re excited to be here and we know we belong here. Tomorrow will be an uphill climb but we’ve had our backs against the wall before.”
Waldrop took a no decision and allowed two runs on five hits in five innings pitched with eight strikeouts. Two of the nation’s best hitters in Texas’ Taylor Hoagland and Taylor Thom went 0-for-6 against the Chester, Va. native. Waldrop held Texas’ power-hitting right-handed hitters to just 1-for-11 on the evening and kept the ball mostly on the ground.
Monica Perry (19-9) entered the game in relief to start the sixth inning and allowed the go-ahead RBI double to Karina Scott to pick up the loss. Perry had not allowed a run in 10 innings pitched in the NCAA postseason prior to her appearance on Saturday.
Texas pitcher Blaire Luna (29-5) earned the win after striking out 10 and allowing two runs on seven hits. She held the Seminoles (44-18) to just 2-for-19 with runners on base.
Senior Kirstin Austin picked up two base hits on Saturday night, going 2-for-3 with one walk for her 11th multiple-hit game of the season. Freshman Victoria East recorded two RBIs on a double in the third inning to supply all of Florida State’s offense. The Pensacola, Fla. native now has nine multiple-RBI games this season.
Florida State is now 4-6 all-time against Texas, and drops to 18-15 against NCAA postseason opponents this season. Florida State is also 4-10 now in its NCAA postseason history against the Big 12, and falls to 38-3 when it scores first this season.
Florida State started its first two innings on the right foot offensively. In the first frame Kelly Hensley led off the game with a bloop single to left center, and Austin began the second inning with a single to the left side. However, both runners were stranded as Luna racked up four key strikeouts in the first two innings to damage any Seminole momentum and keep the game scoreless.
Waldrop got herself out of a jam in the bottom of the second. With one out, Mandy Ogle walked and Torie Schmidt singled up the middle to put runners on first and second base. Karina Scott then grounded into a fielder’s choice to Waldrop, who threw out Ogle at third base. Waldrop ended the inning jumping up to field a chopper from Gabby Smith.
East stepped up to bat in the third inning with two outs and Hensley on second base and O’Brien on first base. Facing a 1-2 offering from Luna, East went with the pitch and drove the ball to right field for a two-run double that went over the head of Gabby Smith to give Florida State a 2-0 lead.
East’s double was her team-leading 16th of the season, tying her for fourth on the school list with former player Cindy Lawton (1995). She is tied for third on the team with Maddie O’Brien with 23 extra base hits this season.
Florida State had a fielding miscue in the bottom of the fourth inning to give Texas its first run of the game with two outs. With Kim Bruins on second base, Karina Scott hit a slow dribbler to the right side on a 1-1 pitch that Hensley, East and Waldrop all converged on and let slip through for an unconventional RBI single. Waldrop responded by striking out Gabby Smith on a full-count pitch to end the inning with Florida State’s lead trimmed to 2-1.
East had another opportunity to come through with a big two-out base hit as Morgan Bullock stood on second base following a single. However, the freshman chased a pitch outside the zone to end the threat for Florida State in the top of the fifth.
Washington had another good at-bat for Texas in the bottom of the fifth, lacing a tying RBI double to centerfield to bring home Taylor Hoagland and make it 2-2. Texas’ Thom then lined out to Courtney Senas at third base for the second out, and Waldrop once again recorded a big strikeout by fanning Kim Bruins to end the frame.
A golden opportunity was missed by the Noles in the top of the sixth, as Alex Kossoff reached the plate with the bases loaded and struck out swinging. Hensley then came up and had a good battle with Luna but struck out swinging on a full-count offering.
The go-ahead base hit for the Longhorns to complete their comeback came in the bottom of the sixth when first baseman Karina Scott laced a one-out RBI double to left center that plated Torie Schmidt for what turned out to be the game-winning score.
In the top of the seventh, Florida State fought back when Maddie O’Brien hit a long single off the left field wall with one out. Pinch runner Kaitlin Allen came in for O’Brien and reached second base when Austin walked with two outs to put the game-tying run in scoring position. Gomez ended the game on a flyout to right field to give Texas the first game of the NCAA Super Regionals.
Florida State and Texas square off in game two of the super regionals on Sunday, May 26 at 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT on ESPN. A third and deciding game will be played if necessary at 6 p.m. ET/5 p.m. CT on ESPNU.