(6) Florida State (56-12) will open the World Series Championship Series against (5) Washington (52-8) tonight at 7:00pm (ESPN). The Seminoles advanced when they swept UCLA yesterday. The Huskies advanced by eliminating defending champion Oklahoma yesterday.
The following chart compiles some relevant statistics comparing the two teams. The first number is the value of the statistic while the number in parentheses is the national rank for that statistic. The schedule rank is through May 13th so it does not include NCAA tournament games. I have included the schedule rank because there has been discussion that FSU’s numbers are inflated because the Seminoles play in the weaker ACC. While the ACC isn’t as strong as the PAC12 the Noles played the toughest non-conference schedule in the nation so their overall schedule strength is comparable to a PAC12 team.
The statistics reveal that Washington has a big edge in batting average and FSU has a big edge in stolen bases. The two teams are very comparable in the other offensive rankings. Washington also has an edge in ERA although the Noles aren't far behind. As we will discuss in a minute the Huskies have a very impressive pitching staff.
The Huskies are led by sophomore SS Sis Bates (.395/.475/.589). Bates is an excellent hitter but perhaps her best asset is her fielding. Taylor Van Zee at 3B (.378/,470/.628) will likely leadoff and the Noles really need to keep her off the bases. The power is supplied by left fielder Julia DePonte (.331/.411/.663) who leads the team with 15 HR and is second with 54 RBI. 1B Kirstyn Thomas (.335/.406/.598) is second in HR with 12 and first in RBI with 55.
The Husky lineup is potent but the real heart of this team is pitching and defense. The Huskies haven't allowed more than two runs in any game in this tournament. That includes shutting out Oklahoma (second in the nation in scoring) twice in the last week.
UW relies primarily on two outstanding pitchers. The first is freshman Gabbie Plain (22-4, .98 ERA). Plain was first team All Pac12 and NFCA All-American Third Team. She allows hitters only a .163 batting average against her. The second pitcher is junior Taran Alvelo (23-4, 1.10 ERA). Alvelo was first team All Pac12 and NFCA All-American Second Team. She allows hitters only a .150 batting average against her. These are two of the best pitchers in the nation. The Noles will have to be on their game to get anything off of these two.
Washington is ranked fifth but that is a very deceptive ranking. The Huskies were the #1 team in the nation until they got swept twice (losing six games in a row) in Los Angeles against UCLA and at home in Seattle against Oregon. Since that last game against Oregon UW is 11-0 including sweeping through the NCAA Tournament. The Pac12 doesn't have a softball Tournament so the only postseason for Washington has been the NCAA Tournament.
Washington will be designated as the home team for tonight's game. They have another advantage in that they only had to play one game yesterday (and it was the early one) so they will have had plenty of rest.
It will be very important for Florida State to keep the mistakes to a minimum in this game. Washington is very good in the field so the Huskies can’t be expected to give FSU anything. Washington has only 5 errors in this entire tournament (going back to the regionals) and they have only one game where they had more than one.
Offensively the Noles need to get on base and start the running game. These games may be low scoring as UW hasn't allowed more than 3 runs in their last 11 games. Therefore, FSU may need to manufacture some runs.
Game one will be tonight at 7pm (ESPN). Game two will be Tuesday at 8pm (ESPN). Game three (if necessary) will be Wednesday at 8:30pm (ESPN). Of course all games will be from Oklahoma City.