(6) Florida State (58-12) defeats (5) Washington (52-10) 8-3 to win the Women’s College World Series and capture the program's first NCAA national championship. The Seminoles had won AIAW slow-pitch championships in 1981 & 1982.
Florida State was designated as the home team so Washington came to bat in the top of the first inning. In a bit of a surprise FSU head coach Lonni Alameda sent Meghan King back into the circle. UW countered with their second impressive pitcher Taran Alvelo.
The game got off to a nightmare start for the Seminoles. Taylor Van Zee started it off for the Huskies with a solid single to centerfield. She moved to second when Nole catcher Anna Shelnutt allowed a pitch to go off her glove all the way to the backstop. Sis Bates came up and bunted a grounder to Jessie Warren at third who threw the ball up the right field line. The error allowed Bates to get to second and Van Zee to score. Julia DePonte came up next and she doubled to center field advancing Bates to third. Sydney Sherrill and Morgan Klavemann miscommunicated and they let the ball drop when it should have been caught. DePonte then wandered off second and the Seminoles weren't alert and let her get back to the bag. Noelle Hee delivered a sac fly to right field to score Bates (unearned). Taryn Atlee drove in DePonte (unearned) with a grounder to short. Emma Helm ended the inning with a groundout to King in the circle. UW ended the top of the first with a 3-0 lead - only one of the runs were earned.
Florida State would bounce back in bottom half of the inning. Warren got it started with a single to left. After two straight strikeouts "Postseason Anna" Shelnutt lived up to her nickname yet again with a 2 run blast to straight away centerfield to cut the lead to one.
In the second inning King settled down and retired the Huskies in order. However, Florida State was not done scoring. Zoe Casas took a 1-2 pitch to the left centerfield wall for a standup double. Cali Harrod followed with a walk. Morgan Klaevemann popped up a bunt for the first out. Elizabeth Mason followed with a single to right. She advanced all the way to third when Trysten Melhart misplayed the ball in right field. Harrod and Casas scored ahead of her to give FSU a 4-3 lead that they would never relinquish (spoiler alert!). Warren came up and singled Mason home (unearned). Carsyn Gordon hit into a double play to end the threat but FSU had taken a 5-3 lead.
King found her rhythm and had another 1-2-3 inning. Sydney "double machine" Sherrill led off with her nation leading 29th double. However, Alvelo was able to get three straight outs to strand her at second.
Hee started the fourth by lining out. Casas made a sparkling over the shoulder grab to save a double. After an Atlee strikeout, Helm hit a two out single down the left field line. Kirstyn Thomas followed with another single down the left field line and UW had runners on first and second with two outs. Trysten Melhart loaded the bases when King had trouble picking up a ball hit to her. However, King got out of it with no damage by getting Kelly Burdick to ground out to Sherrill at second. FSU would make another move in their half of the fourth. After a Harrod groundout, Klaevemann was hit in the hand by pitch. She promptly stole second and reached third when Helm threw the ball into right centerfield and Burdick had trouble picking it up. Mason came up and jacked a pitch over the centerfield wall for a 2 run homer. Gabbie Plain came in for Alvelo in the circle. Warren greeted her by yanking a 3-2 pitch over the centerfield wall for a solo shot and the Noles were smelling the title with an 8-3 lead.
King just kept dealing. She retired UW with a groundout, a popout and a strikeout. Dani Morgan got on for FSU with a walk. She stole second but was stranded there.
Hee started the sixth off with a single for Washington. However, King beared down and got three straight outs to retire the side. Klaevemann walked and stole second but was stranded when Plain got three straight outs.
UW came up with three outs to work with down 5 runs. However King induced three straight ground ball outs to end the game and deliver a title to Tallahassee.
Meghan King (26-6) got the win while Taran Alvelo (23-6) took the loss for the Huskies. King went seven full innings giving up 5 hits, 3 runs (1 earned) with 4 strikeouts and no walks. King was simply sensational for the entire WCWS only allowing one earned run in 34 1/3 innings. That was the best performance by any pitcher in the WCWS since 1999. She more than validated her manager's decision to start her after pitching so brilliantly yesterday.
Jessie Warren (WCWS MOP) continued to rake. She was 3-4 with a HR, 2 RBI and 2 runs. She raised her average to .412 for the year. Anna Shelnutt was 1-3 with a HR and 2 RBI. Elizabeth Mason was 2-3 with a HR, 3 RBI and 2 runs.
Dani Morgan set a WCWS record for stolen bases with seven. The team set a WCWS record for stolen bases with 15.
Florida State joins Texas A&M (1983) and UCLA (2003) as the only teams to lose the first game they played in the WCWS and come back to win the title. The Noles are the only team to do it under the current format of a best of three game championship series.
Jessie Warren (WCWS MOP), Anna Shelnutt, Elizabeth Mason, Sydney Sherrill, and Meghan King were all named to the WCWS All-Tournament team.
This was a fantastic year for Florida State but the fun doesn't end here. I will have more on this team and program in the coming weeks. But for now, and always, the Seminoles are the 2018 National Champions.