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FSU softball advances to regional final

The Noles beat Georgia behind great pitching from Meghan King and hot hitting by Anna Shelnutt.

Softball: PGF Nationals 16U Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The (#4) Florida State Seminoles (53-6-1) advance to the Tallahassee regional final by defeating the Georgia Bulldogs (34-22) 7-1 today at JoAnne Graf field.

Game Recap

Seminole starter Meghan King got the Noles off to a great start. She struck out two batters in the first and induced a ground ball to Jessie (Don’t call me Jessica) Warren at third to set down the Dawgs 1-2-3 in the inning. In the bottom half Warren was hit by a pitch and Alex Powers reached on a walk but UGA starter Brittany Gray managed to set down Carsyn Gordon and Dani Morgan to end the threat.

In the second King got the first out by striking out Maeve McGuire. Lacey Sumerlin then singled to centerfield. Kendall Burton then struck out. After two singles by Brea Dickey and Mahlena O’Neal the Bulldogs had runners on second and third. However, King was able to finish off the inning with a strikeout of Jordan Doggett. The Noles escaped the inning with no damage despite allowing three hits. After a Sydney Broderick popout, Ellie Cooper doubled off the centerfield wall. Catcher Anna Shelnutt stepped to the plate and blasted a shot over the centerfield wall to give the Noles a 2-0 lead. Cali Harrod then popped up a bunt to the catcher. Morgan Klaevemann beat out a bunt to third base but Warren flied out to end the inning.

King faced only three batters in the third. She got Cortni Emanuel to strike out swinging. Cortni’s sister Sydni singled but was erased at second as Harrod made a sweet play to double up Alyssa DiCarlo at first. In the bottom of the third Gray set the Noles down in order on two ground outs and a popup.

McGuire started the fourth with a single for UGA. King responded by inducing Georgia into three straight outs (pop up, strikeout, and ground out) to end the inning. In the bottom half, Broderick grounded out but Cooper was hit by a pitch. Shelnutt struck out but Cooper was able to steal second. Harrod worked a walk but Klaevemann bounced out to the pitcher to end the inning.

King had another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth with a strikeout and two ground outs. Warren started the fifth with a towering homer over the center field wall to put FSU up 3-0. Powers walked and Gordon reached on a fielder’s choice that erased Powers at second. Morgan got an infield single to give FSU runners at second and third but Gray got out of the jam when Broderick and Cooper both lined out to center field.

Sydni Emanuel reached first to start the sixth on an error by Harrod. However, the Noles flashed excellent glove work by getting DiCarlo to ground into a sweet 5-4-3 double play. McGuire then flied out to give King an unconventional 1-2-3 inning.

The Seminoles blew the game open in the bottom of the inning. Red-hot hitter Anna Shelnutt cranked her second homer of the day over the right center field wall to give FSU a 4-0 lead. After a Cali Harrod walk UGA head coach Lu Harris-Champer decided to switch pitchers bringing in Amanda Ablan to relieve Gray. Harrod promptly stole second. Klaevemann then walked. After Warren and Powers both had fly outs Gordon slammed a three run homer over the left field wall. Morgan finished the inning with a strikeout but FSU had a 7-0 lead.

King got Sumerlin to lineout to begin the seventh inning. Burton followed with a ground out. Dickey singled and King threw the ball away to give her second base. Dickey advanced to third on a passed ball. O’Neal then walked. Doggett brought Dickey home on a single. Head coach Lonni Alameda relieved King with Cassidy Davis. Davis got Cortni Emanuel to bounce out to end the game.

Post Game

Meghan King (27-2) pitched 6 23 innings with no earned runs. UGA’s lone run was unearned. Her first three ball count was in the sixth inning. She had fantastic run support. Shelnutt hit her seventh homer of the season in only 42 at bats. Gordon had her eighth and Warren had her 23rd homer of the year which is second in the nation. Davis got the save.

Florida State is cruising in the postseason. The Noles are now 5-0 and have beaten their opponents by a cumulative score of 36-4. FSU remains undefeated at home (27-0). They allowed zero earned runs against a Georgia team that was fifth in the nation in batting average (.339) entering the game. FSU was seventh at .334.

The Noles have benefitted from big performances from several players this postseason but Shelnutt has been unbelievable. To recap, she went 2-3 today with two homers and 3 RBI. Yesterday against Princeton she also went 2-3 with a double, a triple and an RBI. For FSU to get this type of production from a “backup” catcher is an unreal bonus.

This tournament so far is going very well for FSU. The Noles were able to get the comfortable win today while resting ace Jessica Burroughs. FSU will now get to relax for the rest of the day while every other team in the regional will have to fight it out to advance to the final tomorrow.

Next Game

FSU will play the winner of the Jacksonville State/Georgia game tomorrow at noon. If FSU wins they will advance to the Super Regional which will be in Tallahassee if FSU advances. If FSU loses they will play a winner take all game 30 minutes after the end of the first game to decide who will advance to the super regional.