But a late six-run inning from the No. 3 Seminoles (11-0) propelled them to an 8-3 win over the upset-minded Rattlers (1-9) at JoAnne Graf Field on Wednesday.
FSU trailed 3-2 before rattling off six runs, four hits and four walks in the bottom of the sixth. The scoring barrage began with left fielder Hallie Wacaser, who advanced pinch hitter Kaley Mudge on a fielder’s choice play to shortstop.
Jahni Kerr brought the Seminoles ahead with a two-RBI single that advanced Autumn Belviy and Josie Muffley home. Then Kerr scored on Chloe Culp’s groundout to second base. A double to left from Devyn Flaherty brought home Kalei Harding. Flaherty scored on an RBI single from Sydney Sherrill.
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“Putting pressure on them on the bases,” said FSU head coach Lonni Alameda on the key to that offensive explosion. “They made some great plays in the outfield on some well-struck balls. It was about getting runners on and being able to situational hit.
“Josie (Muffley) had a great day with hitting behind the runner and her short game today. So that was pretty awesome. Just pulling from last year a little bit and then getting good barrel on some balls.”
The Seminoles remained unbeaten after experiencing trouble in what looked to be a trap game of sorts. They were three days removed from an emotional weekend in Clearwater, Fla. FSU defeated five then-ranked opponents in four days via No. 18 Tennessee (9-3), No. 11 Texas (9-2), No. 19 Michigan (2-1), No. 24 UCF (8-0 run rule) and No. 3 UCLA (4-3 in eight innings).
“It was a long weekend,” Flaherty said. “So I would say we were tired. But we were prepared yesterday. Wednesday night games are tough. We’ve just got to come out a little stronger, and once we step on the gas, we really have to stay on the gas. It’s a great learning moment for us. It’s great to have games like that early in the season and learn more about ourselves. We can only get better from it.”
Timely hitting proved to be the difference for the Seminoles. They went 4 of 9 (.444) with two outs, 7 of 18 (.389) with at least one on base and 6 of 15 (.400) with a runner in scoring position. They were also aggressive on the base paths, advancing six runners.
Muffley went 3 of 3 with an RBI while Kerr (2 of 4 with two RBIs), Flaherty (2 of 3 with one RBI and a walk) and Sherrill (2 of 3 with one RBI and a walk) also had multi-hit games. Kaia LoPreste and Harding each registered two walks.
Ace pitcher Kathryn Sandercock (6-0) recorded another win after finishing the game with three scoreless innings in relief. The reigning NFCA National Pitcher of the Week allowed only one hit and struckout five of the nine batters she faced.
Sandercock entered the game after junior Brianna Enter allowed a leadoff walk in the fifth inning. Enter surrendered one run (unearned), three hits and one walk in her three innings of relief. Starting pitcher Emma Wilson yielded a two-run homer in the first inning and leadoff walk to begin the second before being replaced by Enter.
Seven freshmen played for FSU: Michaela Edenfield, Katie Bright, Amaya Ross, Brooke Blankenship, Belviy, Wacaser and Kerr.
“This is the first time some of our freshmen will be playing midweek games,” Alameda said. “It’s a different season when you are playing 60 games and you are coming off a weekend like that.
“And then you come into a game where every pitch, they are getting after it. They had nothing to lose swinging it and making some good catches out there. It was awesome. They are a very athletic team.
“(FAMU head coach) Constance (Orr) is doing a great job with them. It’s good for our team to rally and get after it and have some late runs.”
FAMU’s hot start
A two-run homer from Destiny Cuevas helped the Rattlers build early momentum.
The first two batters Wilson faced were outs. Then Wilson allowed her third home run of the season after working Cuevas to a 1-2 count. Cuevas scored a run herself on an RBI single down the left line from Measia Armstrong against Enter in the fourth.
FAMU’s early success prompted FSU to bring in Sandercock, who could have used some rest. She totaled 21.2 innings pitched across six appearances last weekend.
“We had Emma and Brianna out there. We were trying to give opportunities for them to get going. It was a Wednesday game, and maybe the energy was a little bit low. You are the one who is supposed to set it, but you haven’t had a lot of opportunities. They did a good job of that and got after it, but then we settled in and it was fine. Just a great learning game for us. We got a lot of opportunities for a lot of people.”
The Seminoles kept the game close with two runs before their explosive sixth innings. Wacaser advanced Sherrill from third on a sacrifice fly in the second. Sherrill scored again in the fourth on an RBI single from Muffley.
With the win, FSU improved to 114-7 in the all-time series. The Seminoles will play the second part of the home-and-home series at FAMU next Tuesday.
“I love this game with FAMU,” Alameda said. “The crowd, the atmosphere – they are very proud of their team. We have people very proud of our team. And then we are all together from within two miles. So it’s pretty awesome.
“It will be a different atmosphere over there, and it’s only two miles away. It’s next week, so we can have it fresh in our mind what they are all about. It’s pretty exciting.”
FSU will host four games – two each against Hofstra and Indiana – at the Unconquered Invitational this weekend. The Seminoles will first play the Pride at 2:30 p.m. Friday, followed by a game against the Hoosiers scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
Reach Carter Karels at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @CarterKarels.
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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: FSU softball comes from behind to beat FAMU with late six-run inning