May 22, 2010

ATHENS, Ga. - A gutsy pitching performance from Chelsea Kelley (Roanoke, Va./Cave Spring), big defensive plays and Sarah Himan's (Woodbridge, Va./Hylton) RBI single in the fifth played key roles in Radford's 3-2 win over No. 24 Florida State and its advancement to the first regional final in school history.

Radford (38-16) will face host and No. 9 Georgia (45-11) at noon tomorrow for the regional title. Should the Highlanders win game one, they would force an if necessary game at 2:30 p.m. It marks the third Big South school to reach a regional final with Winthrop last doing so in 2007.

After struggling through the first five batters (four hits, two runs) of the game, Kelley settled down and scattered just four hits over the final 6.2 innings for the biggest win in her career. She struck out one and walked and improved to 25-8.

Himan's game-winning hit in the fifth gave Radford its first lead of the game at 3-2. Following infield singles by Shifflett and Nichole Beall (Culpeper/Culpeper County), Himan dumped her hit into shallow left.

The over the 24th-ranked Seminoles (44-18) is the highest ranked win for the Highlanders, who defeated then-No. 25 Mississippi State in 2009.

Defense proved to be the big play as Florida State threatened in the seventh. After two quick outs it looked like the game was over but Beall's throw to her sister at first was dropped and the Seminoles had a new life as their leadoff Carly Wynn stepped to the plate.

Wynn laced a single into left center, which was cleanly picked by leftfielder Lauren Williams (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge). She threw a bullet to third baseman Taylor Cunningham (Fairfax, Va./Robinson Secondary), who applied the tag on a speedy Morgan Bullock to end the contest.

It was not the first defensive play Cunningham was a part of. She stymied FSU's first-inning rally starting a 5-4-3 double play ending the threat and holding the Seminoles to just two runs.

As it did in the first meeting, Florida State scored early first inning runs to jump out to a 2-0 lead. The Seminole recorded four hits in the frame and scored on back-to-back RBI singles by Ashley Stager and Robin Ahrberg.

Meredith Moore (Roanoke, Va/Cave Spring) put the Highlanders on the board with her seventh home run of the season, lining a solo shot over the leftfield fence. It was the 73rd of the season, a new Big South team record previously held by Liberty's 2007 squad.

Kristen Shifflett (Charlottesville, Va./Monticello) knotted the game at 2-2 in the third with a solo long ball to left. It was the 15th of the season, second of the tournament and when she touched home plate, Shifflett became Radford all-time leading scorer with her 149th run, breaking Suzie Rath's (1993-96) mark that has held up for 14 seasons.

Shifflett finished 3-for-3 with two runs scored.

Wynn, Tiffani Brown and Ahrberg each recorded two hits for the Seminoles.

Terese Gober suffered the defeat in 3.2 innings of relief. She allowed a run on four hits with two strikeouts. Sarah Hamilton started and lasted 2.1 innings. She surrendered two runs on three hits with two punchouts and a walk.