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The 22nd-ranked Florida State softball team made some personal history on Saturday afternoon by setting the school record for ACC wins after defeating Georgia Tech in both games of a doubleheader at Shirley Clements Mewborn Field in Atlanta, Ga.
The Seminoles (39-15, 18-2) defeated the Yellow Jackets (22-29, 7-10) 4-1 in eight innings in game one before winning in six innings by an 8-0 score in game two. The victories give Florida State 18 conference wins, the most it has had in ACC play. The 18 wins break the previous school record of 17 (17-4) held by the 2009 team, which was head coach Lonni Alameda's first season at Florida State.
With a win on Sunday against Georgia Tech, which ends the regular season, Florida State would tie the ACC record for most conference wins in a regular season. Georgia Tech in 2010 holds the current mark of 19 victories (19-2).
"We've been able to accomplish quite a bit in our conference this season. The main thing is to finish strong," Alameda said. "Today, our pitching was outstanding and once we found our offensive rhythm in the eighth inning in game one things took off. We want to get to that 40-win mark so tomorrow's game is very important."
Florida State's two wins over Georgia Tech mean the Seminoles have won all seven of their conference series this season, the first time they have accomplished the feat since the ACC schedule expanded to 21 games in 2006. Last season, Florida State won six of seven ACC series, meaning it has won 13 of its last 14 conference series overall.
Also, Florida State has won its first road series against the Yellow Jackets since 2003.
The combination of pitchers Lacey Waldrop (20-7) and Monica Perry (18-8) dominated on Saturday, teaming up to hold Georgia Tech to just 6-for-47 at the plate. Waldrop pitched eight innings in game one and nearly notched a shutout, allowing four hits and an unearned run. Waldrop's 20th win eclipses her 19 wins from her freshman season.
Perry rung up seven in game two and allowed just two hits, hitting her spots and overpowering Georgia Tech. She owns four shutouts in seven games started in conference play, and is now 6-0 with a 1.14 ERA against ACC foes this year. Her two hits allowed in game two marked the 16th time Florida State has surrendered two hits or less to an opponent this season.
Senior Kirstin Austin led Florida State by going 4-for-7 with four RBIs. All four runs driven in came off a big grand slam in game two that put the game out of reach. Senior Morgan Bullock extended her hitting streak to 12 games and her streak of reaching base safely to 18 games. She recorded the go-ahead two-run single in the eighth inning to break a scoreless tie in game one.
For the day, the Seminoles finished 22-for-58 (.379), raising their batting average to .309. Florida State was 6-for-19 with two outs and provided some momentum-swinging hits when it was down to its final out in several frames. Florida State had 11 base hits in each game, giving it 20 games this season with double-digit hits.
Junior Courtney Senas was 2-for-6 with a solo home run in game two, tying her with former player Yuruby Alicart for the top spot on the school's home run list with 14.
Florida State managed to put a runner in scoring position in each of the first three innings in game one, but were unable to convert. In the third frame, Alex Kossoff led off with an infield single and then advanced to second base on a passed ball. Victoria East then grounded out, but Senas advanced Kossoff to third base on a flyout to centerfield. Georgia Tech's Hope Rush then struck out Maddie O'Brien on an off-speed pitch to end the inning.
Junior Kelly Hensley's two-out single to right field kept alive another scoring chance in the sixth inning, as she allowed O'Brien to reach second base and put two runners on for Bullock. The senior from Dacula, Ga. nearly got a ball through the infield but her hard chopper to the right side was fielded well by Georgia Tech first baseman Karly Fullem to keep the game scoreless.
The Noles loaded the bases in the top of the eighth when O'Brien's opposite-field single gave Florida State a tremendous scoring opportunity. With one out, Bullock provided the big base hit on her high-chopping slap single to right field to plate East and Senas, making it 2-0. A few insurance runs were added when sophomore Bailey Schinella fisted a single to centerfield to bring in two more Noles and create a 4-0 lead.
Waldrop came back in the circle in the bottom of the eighth. She began the inning allowing a leadoff walk to Caitlyn Coffey, but was able to force a groundout by Ashley Thomas as she was hit after leaving the batter's box. Hayley Downs then singled to second base, and an errant fielding attempt pushed pinch runner Chelsie Thomas to third base. Waldrop came back to force a sacrifice fly to centerfield, and a lineout by Hope Rush gave Florida State its second extra-inning win of the year.
In game two, Florida State put up two runs in the second inning. With Bullock on second base, Schinella delivered a single to centerfield that was bobbled by Downs and allowed Bullock to score, making it 1-0. Celeste Gomez then recorded a long sacrifice fly to extend the Seminole lead to 2-0.
Another big two-out hit occurred in the fourth inning for the Seminoles. On a 2-2 offering, Gomez cranked her ninth home run of the season off the scoreboard in left center to give Florida State a 3-0 advantage.
Four runs on three hits were the story in the fifth, as Austin unleashed a grand slam to centerfield on an 0-1 pitch to take the Florida State lead to 7-0. Senas started the inning with a double to right center, then eventually went to third base with one out on a single from Bullock, which loaded the bases and set up Austin's big blast.
Senas' solo home run was Florida State's third of the game in the sixth inning, taking an 0-1 pitch and putting it over the centerfield wall for her 14th home run of the season.
The Seminoles go for their 40th win on Sunday afternoon, which would be the 30th 40-win season in school history. Florida State and Georgia Tech square off at 1 p.m. at Mewborn Field, with the game shown on ESPN3.
Chris Nee of 247Sports.com. You can follow me on twitter @CNee247.
Program is turning into a good one.
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