May 31, 2008
Tech's season ends with 2-0 loss to top-seeded Florida
Tincher fans 19 Gators in final collegiate game
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(1) Florida (68-4) 000000002281
(16) Virginia Tech (49-19) 000000000020
  • Oklahoma City, OK - 6,621

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - The Virginia Tech softball team once again came out on the short end of an offensive struggle, falling to top-seeded Florida, 2-0, in an elimination game at the Women's College World Series at Hall of Fame Stadium on Saturday.

Two days after dropping a 1-0 decision to Texas A&M in a pitcher's duel, hits were again hard to come by for the Hokies, who had only two in the nine-inning, up-and-down contest. Tech finished its season 49-19, while Florida improved to 68-4 and advanced on to tonight's contest with UCLA in the next round of the loser's bracket.

"I think we've had a great year - we've had some big wins and we've obviously done the best that we've done in [the seniors'] four years here," Tech pitcher Angela Tincher said after the loss. "We battled back in Knoxville and Ann Arbor, but unfortunately, we didn't get the big runs that we needed today. We made a big effort in the seventh inning, but unfortunately, they did, too, and they came through."

Florida's big effort came in the top of the ninth with the game scoreless, as Ali Gardiner and Francesca Enea reached on a pair of two-out singles. Kristen Adkins came on to pinch-run for Gardiner at second and Tiffany DeFelice battled Tincher - who threw 160 pitches in the game, more than twice what she threw on Thursday - in a 14-pitch at-bat that ended with her getting hit by a pitch. Then with the bases loaded, Mary Ratliff - who had struck out in her first three at-bats - sent a double past a diving Misty Hall into center field to plate Adkins and Enea for the game's only runs.

"It was tough at that point in the game to go so long, but I felt like I still had a lot of adrenaline going," Tincher said of the lengthy at-bat before Ratliff's double. "Unfortunately, I guess Ratliff made adjustments in the end when it counted, and that's part of the game sometimes."

DeFelice would be thrown out on the play trying to score from first to end the inning, but that was all Florida would need as the Hokies managed only a walk by Erin Ota in the bottom of the ninth.

The Gators' Stacey Nelson (46-4) allowed just two hits to go with seven strikeouts to earn the win, but it was Tincher (38-10) who shined in her final game as a Hokie. The senior and USA Softball National Player of the Year from Eagle Rock, Va., struck out 19 batters in the contest and fell one shy of tying the WCWS single-game record of 20 set in 1982 by UCLA's Debbie Doom.

The 19 strikeouts tied Tincher's second-highest total of the season and she fanned every Gator who batted at least once, including seven at least two times. With her fourth strikeout of the game - the first out of the second inning - Tincher passed Southern Miss' Courtney Blades for second place on the NCAA's all-time list for strikeouts in a single season. She finished the 2008 season with 679 and concluded her career with 2,149, a figure that ranks third in NCAA history.

"I don't think I could've asked for much more," Tincher said while reflecting on her career. "The seniors and I have gotten really close, and I had a great time - not just with softball, but with the university and everything. We've had a lot of fun getting here to the World Series. Ending my career here - I wish we would've won - but I don't think I could've asked for too much more than that."

The Hokies nearly ended the game in the bottom of the seventh, but a timely double play by the Gators pushed the game into extra innings. Tech's Erin Ota led off the inning with a high fly ball to center field, one that Waleszonia misplayed and allowed Ota to scoot all the way to third. Nelson then intentionally walked third baseman Charisse Mariconda and Hall to load the bases with no outs, but to also set up the force play at home. The gamble paid off, as the Gators enticed Tech's Kelsey Hoffman into a 5-2-3 double play and ended the threat by throwing out Jess Everhart on a grounder to second.

Early on, Tincher got the Hokies out of a huge jam in the top of the first. After Florida's Kim Waleszonia led off the game with a single, she stole second and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Aja Paculba. As Mariconda came in to field the bunt, she slipped and the ball bounced off of her and trickled away. Paculba moved to second on the play, but no error was charged as the grounds crew came out to add some 'quick dry' dirt, with some speculating that the field was over-watered before the game. With the Hokies facing runners on second and third with no outs, Tincher struck out the next three batters in succession to escape the inning unscathed and set the tone for the rest of the game.

"It would've been an easy time for us to completely fold right from the start, but Angela stepped up big for us with three strikeouts," Thomas said about the first inning scare. "I'm proud of her for that and it I think it got our juices flowing as a whole."

"I'm extremely proud of this team and how well they represented the university," Thomas concluded. "We don't have any team national championship banners at Tech, but there are certain teams that are always held in high regard, like the 1973 NIT championship men's basketball team and the football team that played for the title in 2000. I think this team right here will go down as one of the greatest in Virginia Tech history, and I'm proud to be associated with these ladies."

For updates on Virginia Tech softball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Softball).

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