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Kathryn Sandercock leads Florida State softball to win over no. 2 Arizona

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Clutch defensive plays, big first inning notch the W.

PTFPhoto/ Perrone Ford

No. 15 Florida State softball (12-4) defeated no. 2 Arizona (13-2) by a score of 4-2 on Thursday. The Seminoles did a little bit of everything tonight. They got big hits early, clutch defensive plays, and a lights-out pitching performance. FSU produced six hits and made just one error. This is the second straight week with a top-five win for the ‘Noles after taking down Florida last Saturday.

Florida State got off to a hot start against the Wildcats. Kathryn Sandercock got the start in the circle for the ‘Noles and posted a scoreless first with the help of her defense. Sandercock got two weak grounders to start the day before Jessie Harper ripped a 3-1 pitch to right-center field for a two-out double. Dejah Mulipola followed with a single through the right side of the infield, but Cassidy Davis gunned down Harper at home with a one-hop frozen rope to end the inning.

Elizabeth Mason led off the bottom half with a liner down the RF line for a double. Devin Flaherty followed with a chopper through the middle to plate Mason as the first run of the day. After a Sydney Sherrill walk, freshman Kalei Harding capitalized on the opportunity with a double to left-center field to give the ‘Noles an early 3-0 lead. Arizona’s starter, Alyssa Denham, was quickly pulled from the game. Denham came into Thursday with three ER’s in 37.2 IP. FSU posted three ER on her lines while she didn’t record an out.

Reliever Hanah Bowen limited the damage for the Wildcats. Bowen recorded a strikeout for out #1, before getting a big double play to get out of a bases loaded jam. Sandercock kept the momentum on FSU’s side with a quick shutdown second. The right-handed pitcher retired Zona’s 5-6-7 hitters in order with two strikeouts.

The Seminoles put on a leadoff runner for the second straight inning in the second as Josie Muffley was hit by a pitch. It was the second batter that Bowen hit in her first four attempts. Mason followed with a bloop single into right field, her second hit in as many innings. For the second straight inning, Bowen came up big for the Wildcats. She stranded two more FSU runners behind two full count strikeouts.

The Wildcats got a spark from their nine-hole hitter Allie Skaggs. Skaggs reached base on an infield single and moved up to 2B on a throwing error. A single up the middle from Janelle Meoño moved her to third, before Skaggs crossed home plate on an RBI groundout. The defense came up big again for Sandercock to limit the damage. Muffley made a diving play up the middle, faked a throw to first, and gunned down a runner at third base to end the inning. The high-IQ play was a momentum killer for the Wildcats.

The Arizona defense responded with some highlights of their own. Dani Morgan made it three straight innings with an FSU leadoff hitter on base as she dropped a single into RF. Arizona’s third baseman, Malia Martinez, produced a defensive highlight by picking up a sac-bunt attempt and gunning down Morgan at second for out #1. Mulipola threw a dart from behind the plate to catch Kaley Mudge stealing at second. The defensive play of the Wildcats led to another scoreless frame for the ‘Noles.

Mulipola followed up the strong defensive play with a leadoff, no-doubt homer over the left-center field wall. It was her eighth blast of the season in Arizona’s 15th game. The homer cut the FSU lead to one. Sandercock responded to the bomb with ease, as she induced two quick grounders and a 10-pitch K to keep the ‘Noles in the lead heading to the bottom half.

Florida State responded with a leadoff bomb of their own. Anna Shelnutt took an inside pitch deep over the LF wall for her first home run of the season. The solo bomb gave FSU a 4-2 lead. Bowen retired the next three hitters in order as Hannah Martinez made a shoe-string grab to end the inning.

Sandercock followed her catcher’s homer with a shutdown inning. The redshirt sophomore set the Wildcats down in order with two grounders and a strikeout for her second 1-2-3 inning of the day. Bowen responded with a 1-2-3 inning of her own, setting down the ‘Noles in 12 pitches.

Facing the heart of the Arizona order, Sandercock came up with her biggest inning of the day. The righty retired the side in order on just seven pitches. She induced a weak fly out from the first batter and two routine grounders to put FSU three outs away from a top-five win. The 1-2-3 inning made it nine straight retired for Sandercock after the homer. Bowen worked around a two-out walk for a scoreless sixth.

Sharlize Palacios led off the seventh with a single up the middle to bring the tying run to the plate but Sandercock and her defense quickly negated the single. Muffley and Flaherty combined on a 6-4-3 DP on the RHP’s second pitch to Martinez to push the Wildcats to their last out. Sandercock induced a line out to CF to end it. She trusted her defense all night, walking no Wildcats, and it paid off.

Sandercock finished with a final line of 7 IP, 7 H, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 R, and 1 ER.