April 16, 2014
PITTSBURGH - The University of Pittsburgh softball team (13-24, 4-14 ACC) dropped a pair of contests to No. 9/8 Florida State (41-6, 18-3 ACC) on Wednesday afternoon by scores of 5-2 and 10-3 at Vartabedian Field.
FSU's National Player of the Year candidate Maddie O'Brien showed why she is one of the best players in the country today. In the two games, O'Brien went 4-for-4 with two doubles, two homers, seven RBI and was intentionally walked four times by the Panthers' pitching staff en route to carrying a perfect 1.000 on base percentage.
Game One: Florida State 5, Pitt 2
Behind two home runs from Maddie O'Brien, the nation's leader in that category, Florida State defeated Pittsburgh in the opening game of the doubleheader 5-2.
O'Brien hit her 19th and 20th home runs of the season and accounted for four of the Seminoles five runs batted in. With Pitt down just one in the top of the seventh, O'Brien hit a three-run shot which provided FSU with a 5-1 cushion.
Pitt starting pitcher Alexa Larkin made quick work of the Seminoles through the first three innings. The southpaw struck out four of the first six FSU batters and then worked a six pitch third inning as the game was tied 0-0 after three innings.
O'Brien broke the scoreless tie in the top of the fourth inning with a solo homer to left center field. The Seminoles would add another run in the top of the fifth after Briana Hamilton led off with a triple and was then singled home by Tiffani Brown.
The Panthers got on the board in the home half of the fifth inning after Tori Nirschl singled and a fielding error from the FSU left fielder allowed Carly Thea to come all the around from first base to make the score 2-1.
With the score remaining 2-1 in the seventh, O'Brien launched a two out, three run homer to increase the FSU lead to 5-1. Pitt would have a chance to win the game after loading the bases in the bottom of the seventh inning with zero outs. Carly Thea's RBI single made the score 5-2 and that would bring the winning run to the plate.
However, FSU pitcher Lacey Waldrop (the NCAA leader in wins with 27) closed out the contest by getting two groundouts sandwiched in between a strikeout to end the game.
Game Two: Florida State 10, Pitt 3
Florida State scored multiple runs in four of the seven innings en route to defeating the Panthers 10-3 in game two at Vartabedian Field.
The Seminoles loaded the bases in both the first and second innings, and although Pitt held them scoreless in the first, Maddie O'Brien hit a bases clearing double in the second to give FSU a 3-0 lead.
Pitt responded in the bottom of the second inning with two runs on an error by FSU pitcher Jessica Burroughs and an RBI double from Jordan Fannin. Kaila Balatgek led off the frame with a walk, and then Kaitlin Manuel chopped one to the circle which Burroughs fielded and overthrew first base, allowing Balatgek to score all the way from first. The next batter was Jordan Fannin and her double down the left field line scored Manuel which cut the FSU lead to 3-2.
However, a two-run double from FSU's Briana Hamilton in the top of the third increased the Florida State lead to 5-2, and the Seminoles would tack on three runs in the fourth to make it 8-2. All three runs in the fourth were charged to relief pitcher Lauren Vinson who allowed two hits, including a solo homer, before being replaced by Alexa Larkin.
Pitt got one run back in the bottom of the sixth when Ashlee Sills drove in her fourth run of the season on a chopper past Hamilton at third base, but FSU added two runs in the top of the seventh inning on RBI hits from Tiffani Brown and Kelly Hensley, bringing the final score to 10-3.
Alexa Larkin pitched very well for the Panthers today, tossing 8.2 innings and allowed just three earned runs on nine hits and struck out nine FSU batters.
The Panthers conclude their home schedule this weekend with a three game series against Georgia Tech. Saturday's doubleheader starts at 1 p.m., while the finale on Sunday is at Noon.
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