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No. 8 FSU softball starts the season with walk-off victory over UNC

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Caylan Arnold’s 7.1 strong innings in the circle and Kiersten Landers’ three hits pave way to win #1 for ‘Noles

2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Softball Championship - Game 1 Photo by Shane Bevel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

No. 8 Florida State defeated North Carolina by a score of 2-1 in eight innings on a Kiersten Landers’ bunt single to pickup win #1 on the season.

Game Recap

Tennessee-transfer Caylan Arnold got the ‘Noles off to a hot start in the circle, striking out the side in the first. Kiersten Landers kept the early momentum going for FSU, leading off the bottom half with an opposite field double for her first career hit. Elizabeth Mason came through in the clutch with a 2-out, RBI-single to open up the scoring and give the ‘Noles an early 1-0 lead.

Arnold continued to dominate through the first three innings, as she didn’t allow a baserunner the first time through the order. Through three innings, the righty had four K’s on 46 pitches. UNC pitcher Brittany Pickett settled in settled in after the first, with back-to-back 1-2-3 innings after snagging a liner up the middle and doubling off Landers at first to end the third.

UNC got their first baserunner of the game on two Leslie Farris errors that put Destiny Middleton on second to lead off the fourth. After moving up to third on an errant throw from Anna Shellnut, Kristina Burkhardt tied the game up on the Tar Heels’ first hit of the game on a line drive off the glove of Josie Muffley. It was a defensive meltdown of an inning for FSU, but Arnold limited the damage to just one unearned run to keep the game knotted at one. Pickett kept the momentum on UNC’s side with her third straight 1-2-3 inning in the bottom half.

After a leadoff single and sacrifice bunt, UNC threatened to take a lead for the first time in the game in the top half of the fifth. Arnold bounced back with a weak pop up and three-pitch strikeout to strand the go-ahead run at second. Pickett continued to roll for UNC with her fourth straight 1-2-3 inning in the bottom half. Arnold and Pickett traded off shutdown innings in the sixth as the teams went to the seventh inning knotted at one.

The Tennessee-transfer posted a clutch 1-2-3 seventh to give FSU the chance to walk it off. Sydney Sherrill recorded the final out of the inning with a beautiful backhanded play and strong throw from the hot corner. Sherrill followed up the play with a leadoff walk to start the bottom half and put the winning run on first. The ‘Noles squandered the opportunity after a groundout and two strikeouts, sending the game to extras.

Abby Settlemyre led off the top of the eighth with a single through the left side of the infield to put the go-ahead run on base for the Tarheels. After a strikeout for out #1, senior Cassidy Davis entered the circle as Caylan Arnold’s day came to an end after 7.1 IP. A stolen base put the go-ahead run in scoring position for the top of the UNC Iine up. Davis got the job done for the ‘Noles with a strikeout and weak grounder to strand the runner at second and giving FSU another chance to walk it off.

Muffley got on second to start the bottom half after a UNC throwing error put the winning run in scoring position. Freshman Chloe Culp got a good piece of one, but no luck, as she hit a line drive right into the glove of UNC’s third baseman for the first out. After Muffley moved up to third on a ground out, Landers used her speed to win the game. The redshirt freshman dropped a first-pitch bunt and beat the throw by a step to walk it off.

Postgame

Caylan Arnold dominated in her first game with the Seminoles. Arnold went 7.1 innings, giving up just 4 hits and no earned runs. Arnold also kept the ball in the zone, not giving up a singIe free pass on the afternoon. Cassidy Davis did her job and got high-leverage outs for the ‘Noles in relief, getting both batters she faced out.

FSU’s hitters looked off-balance and out of it against Pickett all afternoon. The one batter that had her number was Kiersten Landers. Landers led off the game with a double, before scoring the ‘Noles first run. She ended up being the hero with the bunt single to win it.

Game Thread

Box Score