BLACKSBURG - A four-run seventh inning lifted the third-seeded Florida State softball team to a wild 5-3 win over seventh-seeded Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the ACC Championship at Tech Softball Park.
The Hokies broke through in the second inning with the game’s first run. With two outs in the inning, Kristin Graham walked and then Kristina Cruz blooped a double to the gap just off the glove of Morgan Bullock. Graham was running on contact and made it all the way from first to give Tech a 1-0 lead.
In the third inning, Misty Hall electrified the crowd with her play. An inning after getting hit in the head by a Terese Gober pitch that wobbled her legs as she went to the dugout, she crushed a Sarah Hamilton offering over the left field fence for her 11th home run of the season. Later in the inning, Courtney Liddle walked and came around to score on Ashton Ward’s double to the gap to make it 3-0.
The Seminoles chopped away at the lead in the fourth inning thanks to three straight singles to plate a run and then loaded the bases. But Kenzie Roark got a big strikeout of Kristie McConn to get of the jam.
In the sixth inning, FSU loaded up the bases with two walks and a single, but with two outs. Bullock hit a high hopper to Bkaye Smith at second base, but Smith’s flip to first base just beat the speedy freshman much to the dismay of her and first base coach Angel Santiago.
Florida State got a huge rally going in the top of the seventh, loading the bases with no one out. It started with Carly Wynn singling off Roark’s leg and then the speed of FSU kicked in as Tiffani Brown reached on an infield single and Wynn beat the throw to third base on Shayla Jackson’s ground ball to Hall at shortstop. Roark struck out Ashley Stager for the first out but then gave up a two-RBI single to Robin Ahrberg to tie the game up, which put runners at second and third base. Jen Lapicki singled to center field to cap a four-run inning that eventually put them into Sunday’s championship game.
At the plate, Tech had six hits, two from Ward and Liddle and one apiece from Hall and Cruz.
Roark pitched well Friday and for the first six innings of Saturday’s game before running out of gas. The junior (L, 10-20) couldn’t hold a two-run lead heading into the last stanza and was eventually pulled from the game. She went 6.1 innings, allowing five runs on nine hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Jasmin Harrell pitched the final 2/3 innings, picking up a strikeout.
The loss ends the Hokies’ season with a record of 25-33. It also marks the end of three standout careers as seniors Whitney Davis, Amber Walker and Hall played their final game in a Tech uniform. Florida State advances to Sunday’s championship game and will face either Georgia Tech or North Carolina.