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May 14, 2011
ATLANTA, Ga. –- Fourth-seeded Florida State rallied from a three-run deficit, scoring 10 unanswered runs, to defeat eighth-seeded Virginia 12-5 in the second semifinal game of the 2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Softball Championship Saturday at Mewborn Field in Atlanta, Ga.
With the win, Florida State improves to 29-26 (9-11 ACC). The Seminoles will make their 15th overall and third consecutive appearance in the championship game. They have won a league-leading nine conference tournament titles with their last coming in 2004. Virginia falls to 24-31 (5-14 ACC).
The Seminoles and Tar Heels have faced off in the finale on two previous occasions. Florida State prevailed 3-1 in 1996, while North Carolina won 4-1 in 2001 to claim their sole title. The Tar Heels swept the 2011 regular season series in Chapel Hill.
First team All-ACC selection Sarah Hamilton picked up her second win of the tournament to move to 18-17 on the season. The senior gave up one earned run on seven hits while striking out three. Of her 121 pitches, 77 were strikes. Redshirt freshman Jessica Nori came on in relief in the sixth. She tossed two innings, allowing just two hits.
Sophomore Melanie Mitchell took the loss to move to 17-17 on the season. She pitched a complete game, surrendering eight earned runs on 12 hits and striking out four.
Senior first baseman Jen Lapicki, a second team All-ACC pick, led Florida State at the plate going 3-for-4 with four RBI and one run scored. A trio of Seminoles tallied two hits, including freshman catcher Celeste Gomez, freshman utility Courtney Senas and senior shortstop Ashley Stager. Gomez recorded two RBI, while Senas and Stager had one apiece.
Three Cavaliers registered two hits each, including junior outfielder Giannina Cipolloni, senior catcher Alison Pittman and freshman first baseman Stephanie Harris, a second team All-ACC member. Harris also added an RBI along with sophomore shortstop Alex Skinkis and junior designated player Rachel Harvey.
Florida State put two runs on the board in the top of the first as Gomez homered to left center scoring junior outfielder and second team All-ACC honoree Shayla Jackson. It was the second round-tripper of the season for Gomez.
Virginia answered in the bottom of the inning with four runs. Back-to-back errors by the Seminoles’ third and first basemen allowed both Giannina Cipolloni and freshman third baseman Erica Cipolloni to score. Skinkis singled to third to plate Harris, and then was driven in on a sacrifice fly to centerfield by Harvey.
The Cavaliers increased their lead to three runs in the bottom of the second as Harris singled to center field to score sophomore outfielder Taylor Williams.
Florida State would then score 10 unanswered runs over four innings. Lapicki hit a single in the top of the third to score Jackson. The Seminoles added three additional runs on two errors by the Cavaliers. Miscues by the third baseman and shortstop allowed Gomez, sophomore Morgan Bullock and senior Kristie McConn to cross home plate and give FSU a 6-5 lead.
Senas led off the fourth with a solo home run to left field, her fourth of the season to increase Florida State’s lead to two runs. Four batters later Lapicki singled up the middle to plate Stager.
A third Cavalier error in the sixth allowed Stager to score her second run of the game. Lapicki, the next batter, homered to left center to score Jackson, giving the Seminoles an 11-5 lead. It was Lapicki’s seventh home run of the season. The Seminoles’ three home runs on the day matched their season high.
Florida State would add one more run in the top of the seventh. A double to left field by Stager scored Senas. Nori allowed one Cavalier hit in the bottom of the seventh before securing the 12-5 victory.
The teams combined for five errors on the day. Virginia stranded nine runners on base to Florida State’s four. Each team registered two stolen bases. Pitman recorded her 19th of the season, which ranks eighth in the conference. Senas and Williams each tallied one to remain tied for ninth with 17 apiece. Freshman Marcy Bowdren notched her fourth.
Sunday’s championship game will be televised with coverage beginning at 1 p.m. live on FOX Sports South, FOX Sports Carolinas, SportSouth and CSN Mid-Atlantic. A tape delay of the game will air on SunSports at 11 p.m.