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Freshman gives 'Noles title shot

ZACHARY SPAIN
Published May 23, 2004

TALLAHASSEE - Freshman Veronica Wootson needed just one more chance.

In the sixth inning Saturday, with top seed Florida State rallying from a 4-1 deficit, Wootson's two-run single tied the score at 4.

Six innings of missed opportunities and miscues later, the second baseman hit the winner, a bases-loaded bouncer over shortstop Breanne Sabol that scored Beth Wade and gave FSU a 5-4 win against Oregon.

"It was stressful, (but) I went up there and I wasn't trying to force anything," said Wootson, the ACC rookie of the year.

She finished 3-for-5 with a run and three RBIs. FSU is 60-9.

Jessica van der Linden (27-6) pitched nine innings in relief without giving up a run. She struck out 11 after replacing Casey Hunter two batters into the fourth inning.

"It seemed like they were hitting Casey pretty well," FSU coach JoAnne Graf said. "Once they got up we decided that even with four runs we still, with our hitters, had a chance to win the game."

But van der Linden faced her share of tense moments in extra innings as the Ducks (40-20) put runners in scoring position three times after the seventh.

In the ninth, a muffed Oregon squeeze play led to catcher Elisa Vasquez chasing down Sabol between the plate and third base, squelching the Ducks' best scoring chance after their four-run third inning.

"That (play) was clutch," van der Linden said. "It's nice to see a big play like that and the momentum start flowing back your way it seems like and it gives me personally a little extra oomph at the end."

USF 7, CAL ST.-NORTHRIDGE 3: Down 3-2, South Florida scored five runs in the seventh inning to eliminate No. 5 seed Cal State-Northridge.

Tiffany Stewart walked with the bases loaded, tying the score. Krista Holle drove in the winning run with a single in the next at-bat.

Leigh Ann Ellis (43-7) had 11 strikeouts and returned to start the evening game against Oregon.

The winner of the South Florida-Oregon game, which was not over at press time, faces FSU at 1 p.m. today for the region title and Women's College World Series berth.

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