(4) Florida State (53-8) defeated South Carolina (38-19) 7-6 in Tallahassee on Sunday at JoAnne Graf Field at the Seminole Softball Complex. With the victory, Florida State captures the Tallahassee Regional and will move on to face (13) Oklahoma State in the Super Regionals which will also take place in Tallahassee.
South Carolina sent senior Dixie Raley to the circle. Raley pitched 10 full innings yesterday in a winning effort over South Florida. Anthony Small was behind the plate for this game. He was also the home plate umpire for FSU’s last game against South Florida. Small is known for having a tight strike zone.
Cali Harrod started the game with a walk. She promptly stole second. Carsyn Gordon flied out to right which advanced Harrod to third. Sydney Sherrill delivered a sacrifice fly that scored Harrod. Elizabeth Mason worked a two out walk. Dani Morgan doubled down the left field line scoring Mason. Anna Shelnutt followed with a single to plate Morgan for FSU’s third run of the inning. Cassidy Davis took the first pitch she saw to the wall for a double but Shelnutt was thrown out at home for the third out. Senior ace Meghan King stepped in the circle for the Noles. She got Mackenzie Boesel to fly out. Then King uncharacteristically walked two straight batters (Jana Johns and Kennedy Clark) before getting Cayla Drotar to fly out to left. Kenzi Maguire was next and she singled to center scoring Johns. King got the last out on a Lauren Stewart pop out.
FSU started the second with a pair of foul outs. Harrod walked again and Gordon took full advantage with a two run blast over the right field wall to give FSU a 5-1 lead. Sydney Sherrill responded with a fly ball that went in and out of Kennedy Clark’s glove but Lauren Stewart did a great job backing her up and Stewart caught the ball before it hit the ground after it bounced out of Clark’s glove. Madison Owens started the inning for USC with a fly out. King then hit Jordan Fabian with a pitch. Haley Simpson reached on a fielder’s choice. Boesel walked but King ended the threat by striking out Johns.
South Carolina coach Beverly Smith made a pitching change to start the third. She brought in Drotar to take Raley’s place in the circle. Drotar started out strong setting the Seminoles down in order. King walked Clark to start the inning. Drotar helped her cause by doubling in Clark. King got a couple of outs but a Madison Owens two out single plated Alex Fulmer who was running for Drotar. FSU coach Lonni Alameda responded by inserting Kathryn Sandercock into the circle for King. Sandercock ended the threat with a quick ground out but the Gamecocks had cut the lead to 5-3.
Drotar got the Seminoles 1-2-3 for the second straight inning. After a Simpson ground out, Boesel doubled to left for USC. Sandercock then struck out Johns. After a Clark walk Drotar singled scoring Boesel and advancing Clark to third. Maguire hit a high chopper that bounced off Sandercock’s glove and was fielded by Sherrill who tried to get the speedy Maguire at first but the ball got away from Gordon. Clark scored. Mason eventually retrieved it in foul ground down the right field line. She came up firing to home plate and she threw out Drotar on a perfect throw. It was a very close play and Coach Smith came out to argue but Small was having none of it and FSU was finally out of the inning. However, Carolina had tied the game at 5-5.
Drotar (for the third straight time) set the Noles down in order. Stewart grounded out for the first out but Owens responded for USC with a double to left. Fabian advanced Owens to third on an infield single. Alyssa Kumiyama executed a sacrifice fly scoring Owens and moving Fabian to third. Mason came up with another perfect throw on the sacrifice fly and had Owens dead to rights but Shelnutt dropped the ball and Owens scored to give USC the lead at 6-5. Boesel singled when Rock Benavides had trouble fielding her grounder at third. Fabian advanced to third on the play. However, Johns grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
Mason started the sixth in fine fashion for FSU with a double. After a Morgan walk, Shelnutt flied out to right. Cassidy Davis followed with another fly out to right but Mason was able to tag up and make it to third on a close play. Morgan opportunistically took second on the throw. Makinzy Herzog came up and delivered a clutch single scoring Mason and Morgan. However, Herzog was caught in a rundown between first and second for the final out of the inning. Despite that FSU was able to retake the lead at 7-6. Alameda inserted King back into the circle to start the sixth inning. After a Clark fly out Drotar singled to left. Maguire flied out for the second out and King struck out Karly Heath to end the inning.
Drotar set the Seminoles down in order once again in the seventh. King got two quick outs before Haley Simpson kept the season alive for Carolina by beating out an impressive infield single. Boesel followed by working a tough walk to put runners on first and second with two outs. King beared down after that and struck out Johns to end the game.
Kathryn Sandercock (13-0) earned the win by going 2 1⁄3 innings giving up 6 hits, 3 earned runs and a walk with a strikeout. Meghan King went 4 2⁄3 giving up 5 hits, 3 earned runs and 5 walks with 5 strikeouts. King pitched 101 pitches while Sandercock had 46.
Carsyn Gordon had a HR and 2 RBI. Makinzy Herzog was 1-3 with two RBI. Dani Morgan, Sydney Sherrill and Anna Shelnutt accounted for the other three RBI.
This was the first game this postseason where Florida State was truly tested. The Noles had to come back from a deficit with a freshman in the circle. FSU displayed impressive mental fortitude to come out with a pressure win to save the season. South Carolina has nothing to hang their heads about as they had the toughness to come back from a 5-1 hole and nearly win the game.
FSU had no official errors in this game but they had at least two that could have easily been called errors by the official scorer. The Seminoles were shaky today in the field but they were able to pull through. A big key in the win was timely hitting. FSU scored seven runs on only six hits and they didn’t get the benefit of a single USC error. They were able to take full advantage of their relatively few hits with clutch hitting.
As you know, I don’t usually reference the officials but Anthony Small (for better or worse) has a tight strike zone. It seemed to affect King early and contributed to all of the walks. However, once she came back in for the sixth inning she seemed to have adjusted and looked like a different pitcher.
The Seminoles were definitely pushed to the limit in this game but they showed once again that they have the chops to win in a variety of ways. This will serve them well as they advance in the tournament.
Florida state will welcome the (13) Oklahoma State Cowgirls (42-14) to Tallahassee for the Super Regional. The Super Regional is scheduled for Friday with times to be determined. Oklahama State won the Stillwater Regional by defeating Tulsa 2-1 on Saturday.