(5) Florida State (50-8) defeated Notre Dame (36-16) 2-0 in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament.
Ali Wester started things off for the Irish in the first with a single to left. FSU starting pitcher Meghan King then walked Katie Marino to give ND runners on first and second with nobody out. ACC player of the year Cait Brooks then grounded into a double play (Sydney Sherrill to Cali Harrod to Carsyn Gordon) but Wester moved to third. King ended the threat by fielding a Melissa Rochford grounder for the third out. Freshman Payton Tidd started in the circle for Notre Dame. She got the first two outs by striking out Harrod and inducing a line out from Gordon. However, Sherrill stepped to the plate and deposited a 3-2 pitch over the left-centerfield wall to give FSU a 1-0 lead. Elizabeth Mason ended the inning with a flyout to right field.
Abby Sweet started the second for ND with a double to centerfield. MK Bonamy followed with a bunt single and the Irish were in business with runners on the corners and nobody out. Bonamy promptly stole second to give ND two runners in scoring position with no outs. King then went to work. She struck out Chelsea Purcell, induced a Madison Heide foul out and ended the inning on a line out from Emma Clark. In the bottom of the second, Dani Morgan singled. After an Anna Shelnutt fly out Morgan stole second. Cassidy Davis then induced a walk. Zoe Casas reached on a fielder’s choice that moved Morgan to third. FSU had runners on the corners with two out. Rock Benavides then hit an RBI single to right center scoring Morgan to give FSU a 2-0 lead. Harrod ended the inning with a flyout.
Wester started the third inning with a perfectly placed bunt single. Marino followed with a single to give Notre Dame a pair of runners with nobody out. Brooks came up and grounded into her second double play of the game (Harrod to Sherrill to Gordon) as Wester advanced to third. Rochford lined out to center to end the threat. In FSU’s half of the third, Gordon grounded out and Mason sandwiched a single between flyouts from Sherrill and Morgan to end the inning.
King hit Sweet with a pitch to start the fourth. Bonamy reached on a fielder’s choice but King ended the inning with a pair of strikeouts from Purcell and Heide. Shelnutt worked a walk for FSU and Deja Bush pinch ran for her. Bush promptly stole second. However, Payton Tidd ended the inning by retiring the Noles with a strikeout, groundout and flyout.
Clark started the inning by lining out to Sherrill at second. Wester came up and hit her third straight single. She quickly stole second. Marino popped up to Gordon for the second out. Brooks induced a four pitch walk but Rochford ended the inning with a groundout. Harrod started the inning for FSU by beating out a single to third. She promptly stole second. Gordon worked a walk and she and Harrod moved to second and third on a wild pitch. Sherrill grounded to second base and Harrod got caught in an extended rundown between third and home but she was finally tagged out. However, Gordon was able to move to third and Sherrill made it to second. FSU was still in business with runners on second and third with only one out but Tidd got Mason and Morgan to pop out on consecutive at bats to end the threat.
In the sixth King set the Irish down in order for the first time. FSU returned the favor in the bottom half by going down 1-2-3.
In the seventh King ended the game by getting Sarah Genz to ground out to right field. Mason came up with a strong throw to get Genz. Clark followed up with a grounder back to King. Ali Wester came up and King was finally able to get her out on a fly ball to centerfield.
Meghan King (28-5) recorded the win while Payton Tidd (25-8) took the hard luck loss.
Sydney Sherrill and Rock Benavides recorded the only RBIs in the game and no one for FSU had more than one hit.
King went seven full innings scattering six hits and two walks (along with one hit batter) while recording three strikeouts. With the shutout King lowered her ERA to 1.34 on the year.
The win extends FSU’s winning streak to 12.
FSU is fifth in the Coaches poll and ESPN poll, The Noles are sixth in the Softball America poll and fifth in the RPI.
The bottom line is that the Seminoles are well positioned to earn another top eight seed in the NCAA Tournament and the home games in the regional and super-regional that come with the lofty seeding.
FSU will play for the ACC championship against North Carolina (35-17) tomorrow. UNC took two of three from the Seminoles last April in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels don’t have much power but they compensate for that very well by using their speed to create havoc on the base paths and put pressure on the defense to avoid errors. The game is scheduled for 12 noon (ESPN).