The #4 Florida State Seminoles (51-6-1) win the ACC championship defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels (38-19) 4-3 in Chapel Hill, NC.
Jessica Burroughs started the game for FSU in fine fashion. She set the Heels down in the first in order with a foul out and two ground outs. In the bottom of the first the Noles were set down with three straight outs by UNC pitcher Brittany Pickett, the ACC Freshman of the Year.
In the second, Burroughs struck out the side with three straight swinging strikeouts. FSU also went down 1-2-3 with a ground out and two fly outs.
In third Pickett started off the inning by grounding out to first base and then Burroughs got a pair of swinging strikeouts to end the inning. FSU got their first hit when Anna Shelnut singled singled down the left field line with a ball that was almost foul. Morgan Klaevemann reached on a fielder’s choice that erased Shelnutt. Klaevemann then promptly stole second but the threat was ended on an Ellie Cooper ground out.
In the fourth UNC scratched out their first hit when Taylor Wike singled to right. Burroughs was able to induce a fly out and a ground out to strand Wike at first. In the Seminole half of the inning ACC player of the year Jessica Warren broke the scoring ice with a towering homer to left center field. It was Warren’s first hit of the tournament. After a line out and a ground out Sydney Broderick walked. Dani Morgan then tripled her home with a shot that reached the wall in right center field. Pickett ended the threat with a strikeout but FSU had a 2-0 lead.
Burroughs had another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth with a pop out, a ground out and a strike out. FSU also went in order in the bottom of the fifth with a pop up, a ground out and a fly out.
Burroughs kept cruising in the sixth with a strikeout and two ground outs. In the bottom of the sixth Warren reached second on an error by the center fielder. Alex Powers then stepped to the plate and slammed a homer over the left center field wall to give FSU a 4-0 lead. Carsyn Gordon then singled. After two outs Cali Harrod reached on another error but they were both stranded due to a Shelnutt strikeout.
In the seventh inning Wike started it off with a single that was just out of reach of second baseman Ellie Cooper. After a strikeout Berlynne Delamora singled to advance Wike to second. Katie Bailiff then flied out to center and the Tar Heels were down to their final out. Katelyn Shifflett came up and promptly deposited a shot over the center field wall to bring UNC within a run at 4-3. These were the first runs given up by Florida State all tournament. Coach Lonni Alameda brought in Meghan King to get the save and King did so by striking out Pickett to give FSU the championship.
Burroughs (26-4) got the win and King earned her third save of the year.
Dani Morgan was named the ACC Tournament MVP. She was joined on the all-tournament first team by Anna Shelnutt, Carsyn Gordon, Jessica Burroughs, and Meghan King.
The Noles have won the last four ACC Tournaments and the last five ACC regular season titles. They have also won the last 41 straight ACC series they have played in a streak that dates back to 2012 (Maryland). Florida State is now 86-5 against the ACC since 2014. The Noles have won 28 straight conference games and 12 straight ACC Tournament games which are both records. UNC has now lost 15 straight games to FSU. FSU also set tournament records for runs in an inning (12 vs Virginia) and runs in a game (16 vs Virginia). Anna Shelnutt set an ACC tournament record for RBI in an inning (seven vs Virginia).
This tournament was just what the doctor ordered after the disappointing Oregon trip. FSU got back to their winning ways, impressed the tournament committee, and continued their ACC dominance.
The MVP was Morgan and she definitely deserved it but Shelnutt was the revelation for me. Her emergence has given Alameda some roster flexibility. Alameda can now choose to let Shelnutt handle the catching duties which is important as regular catcher Sydney Broderick nurses a dislocated finger. The good news for FSU is that Broderick can still hit so she can play as the DP which bolsters the lineup while Shelnutt takes over at catcher.
Florida State will now wait to see who will head to Tallahassee for their NCAA Tournament regional. If FSU is not one of the top eight seeds there should be an investigation. I hear James Comey is available. Too Soon?
The NCAA Tournament softball selection show will be on ESPN 2 at 10pm Sunday night.
Florida State will be the #4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Seminoles will play Princeton (25-18) on Friday at 7:00pm in Tallahassee. The game will be televised on ESPNU. Florida State is 25-0 at home this year. The other teams in the Tallahassee regional are Georgia (33-21) and Jacksonville State (40-10).
Due to the Noles earning a top 8 seed, FSU will host the Super Regional in Tallahassee if they make it that far. If the seeds hold they will meet #13 LSU (41-18) in a three game series.