Atlantic division champion (7) Florida State (48-10) defeats Coastal division champion Pittsburgh (33-19) 5-4 to take its fifth straight ACC Tournament softball crown.
Senior Kylee Hanson started the game in the circle for FSU. McKayla Taylor stepped in the box to leadoff for Pitt. Hanson worked the count to 1-2 but then hit Taylor on the foot to give her first base. After a walk to catcher Giorgiana Zeremenko, Olivia Gray tried to sacrifice bunt but Jessie Warren quickly fielded the ball and snapped it over to Cali Harrod who was covering third to get the lead runner. Hanson then ended the threat by striking out the next two Panthers to retire the side.
Kayla Harris started the game for Pitt. Jessie Warren had been hitless in the tournament but she ended that streak with a leadoff single up the middle. Carsyn Gordon then laced a hotshot liner that took the glove off of Harris. FSU had runners on first and second with nobody out. Freshman Sydney Sherrill came to the plate. Warren wandered too far off of second (or someone missed a hit and run signal) and got picked off for the first out of the inning. Sherrill ended up reaching on a fielder’s choice advancing Gordon to second. Zoe Casas then reached on another fielder’s choice with Gordon advancing to third and Sherrill out at second. Dani Morgan then popped up to second to end the inning.
Hanson set Pitt down 1-2-3 in the second with two strikeouts. FSU also went down in order with Elizabeth Mason popping out to first, Cali Harrod fouling out and Anna Shelnutt grounding out to second.
Hanson got another 1-2-3 inning in the third with a flyout and two groundouts. In FSU’s half of the third, Morgan Klaevemann was called out for hitting the ball out of the batter’s box. Warren then singled up the middle. Gordon lined out to second and Sherrill followed with a walk. Casas grounded out to short to end the inning.
Olivia Gray started the fourth for Pitt with a single on a 2-2 pitch. Alexis Solak sacrificed bunted to get Gray to second. Hunter Levesque flied out to center and Gray tagged to get to third on a close play. Kaitlyn Kruger ended the inning with a popout to Gordon at first.
Dani Morgan started the inning with a perfectly placed bunt single. After two flyouts, Shelnutt walked to give FSU runners on first and second. Klaevemann then struck out looking (on a questionable pitch) to end the inning.
Hanson kept rolling in the fifth. She started with a ground out and a strikeout. After Erin Hershman reached on a Sherrill error, Hanson got Taylor to fly out to right to end the inning.
Warren started the inning with a hard hit ball that went straight to the right fielder for an out. Gordon then struck out swinging. Sherrill responded with a single to left. Casas singled to right center advancing Sherrill to third. Morgan then flied out to center to end the threat.
Then came the sixth inning.
Zeremenko started things off with a single. Morgan Batesole pinch ran for her. Hanson struck out Gray. Solak responded with a single to right. Both runners moved up on a passed ball. It seemed that Shelnutt was crossed up on the pitch. Levesque singled to right field to score Batesole. Kruger reached on a fielder’s choice to second base but Sherrill threw the ball away and allowed Solak to score and Kruger and Levesque to move to second and third. Hanson then uncorked a wild pitch which allowed Kruger to move to third and Levesque to score. After Taylor Myers walked on four straight pitches, Lonni Alameda relieved Hanson and inserted Meghan King into the circle. Myers then promptly stole second but King struck out Marissa DeMatteo for the second out. However, Pitt wasn’t done cashing in on Seminole mistakes. Kruger scored on a passed ball and Myers advanced to third. King stopped the bleeding by striking out Hershman to end the inning. All told the Panthers got four runs (two unearned), three hits and one left on base in the inning to take a 4-0 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth Mason started off with a walk. Harrod then popped out to short. Shelnutt got an infield single when the first baseman fielded the ball and the second baseman was late to cover first. Deja Bush came in to pinch run for Shelnutt. After Klaevemann struck out looking, Warren singled to right scoring Mason and advancing Bush to third. Gordon popped out to short to end the inning.
In the seventh King got a ground out and a strikeout for the first two outs of the inning. After Gray singled up the middle, Solak grounded out to Warren at third to end the inning.
FSU started the inning down 4-1 with three outs left. Sherrill started it off in fine fashion with a single up the middle. Casas followed with a walk. Morgan fouled out to first for the first out. Mason induced a walk to load the bases. Harrod reached on a fielder’s choice to shortstop to score Sherrill to make the score 4-2 with Mason on second. Shelnutt came up and deposited the first pitch she saw over the left field wall for a walk-off three run homer to give the Seminoles a 5-4 victory and their fifth straight ACC championship.
King (20-6) took the win for FSU while Harris (16-3) absorbed the loss.
Warren was 3-4 with an RBI. Sherrill was 2-3 with a run. Mason had two walks and scored both times. Shelnutt was 2-3 with a home run and three RBI.
Hanson pitched 5 1⁄3 with 4 hits, 4 runs (2 earned), 2 walks, 6 strikeouts, a wild pitch and a hit batter. King pitched an inning and 2⁄3 with three strikeouts and one hit.
Of course this game will be remembered for Shelnutt’s dramatic walkoff - be sure to watch top plays on SportsCenter tonight. However, while the Noles will of course take the win any way it comes, FSU didn’t really play its best in this game. The Seminoles left 10 runners on base and the sixth was a comedy of errors. The good news is that this team is absolutely loaded with heart. They believe they can win in any situation and this game will give them even more confidence.
This win will likely insure that FSU will secure a top 8 seed and host a super regional in the NCAA Tournament. The interesting thing will be whether or not the Noles will be the only team in the ACC that makes the tourney. FSU started the Tournament at sixth in the RPI. The next highest ACC teams were Notre Dame at 43 and Louisville at 44. Pitt was at 48. All of those teams are squarely on the bubble.
The Softball selection show will be on Sunday at 10 pm (ESPN2).