(6) Florida State (52-12) falls to (3) UCLA (57-5) 7-4 in the first round of the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
The Bruins are the higher seed so they are designated as the home team. UCLA sent 2018 USA softball player of the year Rachel Garcia to the circle. ACC player of the year Jessie Warren stepped in the batter's box to face her. Garcia got Warren to strikeout swinging. She also got Carsyn Gordon to strikeout and she ended the inning when Sydney Sherrill fouled out.
Meghan King was the somewhat surprising starter for FSU. Kylee Perez greeted her with a single up the middle. Her sister Briana Perez lined out to Dani Morgan in left field. After Aaliyah Jordan struck out, Garcia drew a walk. Bubba Nickles came up and singled. FSU threw the ball up the line but the Noles weren't hurt because the third base coach held up Perez at third. King ended the inning by getting Madeline Jelenicki to strike out.
Anna Shelnutt started the second for the Seminoles with a walk. Garcia beared down from there and struck out FSU's next three batters. King started getting her rhythm in the second and had a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts and a pop out.
Cassidy Davis worked a walk to start the third. Deja Bush pinch ran for her. Morgan Klaevemann laid down a nice sac bunt to move Bush to second. UCLA intentionally walked Warren. The Bruins then got a strike ‘em out throw ‘em out double play when Gordon struck out and Bush was tagged at third. Kylee Perez started the inning for the Bruins by getting a single when she appeared to hit the ball with a foot out of the batter's box. Briana Perez sac bunted her over to second. Jordan grounded out to Gordon at first and Garcia ended the inning by grounding out to second.
FSU went down in order in the fourth. King matched Garcia by getting the Bruins out 1-2-3.
In the fifth the Noles made their move. It started with a Cali Harrod walk. Harrod promptly stole second - she is now 32 for 33 on stolen bases - and advanced to third when Bruin catcher Paige Halstead threw the ball into right-center field. Dani Morgan delivered a clutch single to center field to score Harrod. It was FSU's first hit of the game. Morgan then stole second. After two strikeouts UCLA intentionally walked Warren with first base open. Gordon then worked a walk to load the bases. Sherrill came up and hit an 0-1 pitch to left that was slicing to the left field line. Bruin left fielder Kinsley Washington seemed to have a bead on it but she misplayed it and the ball dropped fair. Since there were two outs all of the runners were in motion so that hit cleared the bases and gave the Seminoles a 4-0 lead. Not to make excuses for Washington but she is a freshman who normally plays in the infield. Either way FSU will certainly take the three run gift. It was Sherrill's 28th double of the year. She leads the nation in that category. Shelnutt ended the inning with a strikeout. FSU scored four runs on two hits and an error in the inning.
Taylor Pack pinch hit for Halstead and stayed in to play catcher. Pack reached when Harrod made throwing error from short on a ball that was hit in the hole. Washington followed up with a single up the middle and the Bruins had something cooking with runners on first and second with nobody out. Kylee Perez hit a shallow fly ball that didn't advance the runners. Briana Perez followed with a single that scored Pack. King then struck out Jordan for the second out. Seminole coach Lonni Alameda decided to change pitchers and inserted Kylee Hanson for King. Hanson faced Garcia and got her to strikeout swinging.
Korina Rosario started the sixth with a double for FSU. After a Harrod strikeout Morgan also struckout but reached first when the ball got away from the catcher. Morgan stole second to give the Noles runners on second and third with one out. Garcia settled down after that to get a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.
In the bottom of the inning FSU's defense came apart. Bubba Nickles started it off with a walk. Madeline Jelenicki reached on a fielder's choice that should have been a double play. Brianna Tautalafua followed with a single. Pack singled to left to load the bases. Julie Rodriguez delivered a sac fly to score a run. Kylee Perez hit a huge three run bomb to give UCLA a 5-4 lead. Briana Perez got a bunt single and Jordan knocked her in with a triple. Alameda replaced Hanson with Cassidy Davis in the circle. Garcia reached on a throwing error from Harrod at short and another run scored. Nickles flied out to end the inning but the Bruins had taken a 7-4 lead.
Warren started the seventh for FSU with a single. Unfortunately for the Noles Garcia got three straight outs to end the game.
Sydney Sherrill only had one hit but it was the huge double that plated three in the fifth. Dani Morgan had the other RBI with her clutch single also in the fifth. Korina Rosario delivered a double in her only plate appearance.
Meghan King was very good after a bit of a shaky first inning. She went 4 2⁄3 giving up 5 hits, a walk and one unearned run. Kylee Hanson takes the loss for Florida State. She went one inning giving up 5 hits, 6 runs (5 earned) and a walk. This was easily Hanson's worst outing of the year. The moment seemed too big for her. However, she is much better than she showed tonight and she has a history of bouncing back strong as she proved last week in the super regionals against LSU.
The Noles let this one get away. Against a team as good offensively as UCLA you can't give them extra outs and FSU gave them two extra outs in the sixth. Overall Florida State played well enough to win but mistakes will kill you at this level and that is what happened to the Seminoles tonight.
The Noles will try to shake this off when they face (7) Georgia in an elimination game on Saturday at 2:30pm (ESPN).