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FSU softball shuts out no. 2 Arizona in rubber match for series win

Kathryn Sandercock, Caylan Arnold combine for seven shutout innings.

PTFPhoto/ Perrone Ford

No. 15 Florida State softball picked up a massive series win over the no. 2 Arizona Wildcats with a 2-0 win tonight. The Seminoles were led by their pitching and defense for the third straight day. Two Seminoles combined for FSU’s fourth shutout of the season in the circle. The ‘Noles now have three top-five wins in their last five games.

Kathryn Sandercock was back in the circle for the Seminoles after a game one win. Arizona’s leadoff hitter Janelle Meoño reached base on an error, but was quickly erased on a perfect throw from Anna Shelnutt as she tried to swipe second. Sandercock finished off a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout and a groundout. Arizona starter Alyssa Denham, who didn’t record an out on Thursday against the ‘Noles, worked a quick 1-2-3 inning of her own to start the day.

Sharlize Palacios lined the first hit of the day into RF for a one-out single in the top half of the second. Malia Martinez followed with a slow roller to second for an infield single to put two on. Freshman Carlie Scupin loaded the bases with a third straight single. Sandercock quickly responded with the biggest play of the game. The pitcher snagged a grounder back to the circle, threw to Shelnutt at home, and the catcher whipped a bullet to first for an inning-ending double play.

Sydney Sherrill worked a five-pitch walk for FSU’s first runner in the bottom half. Second-year freshman Devin Flaherty dropped a one-out single into the right-center field gap to move Sherrill to third. Josie Muffley followed the single with a perfectly executed squeeze to bring home Sherrill as the ‘Noles took the first lead of the day.

Meoño put the pressure on the FSU defense again in the third. The leadoff hitter reached base on a one-out bunt single as Sandercock couldn’t get the ball out of her glove cleanly. Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza followed with a walk, Sandercock’s first of the day, to put two on for three-hitter Jessie Harper. But Sandercock and the defense rose to the occassion again. The right-handed pitcher induced a weak grounder to third, which Sherrill turned into another inning-ending double play as she stepped on third and threw a bullet to first to end the inning.

Denham posted her second 1-2-3 inning in the bottom half to quickly bring the Wildcats back to the plate. Arizona’s four-hole hitter, Dejah Mulipola, worked a full-count walk to leadoff the fourth. Martinez dropped a single just inside the RF foul-line for her second hit of the day with one out to end Sandercock’s day.

Caylan Arnold entered the game after a complete game, one-run performance in game two. Arnold found quick success, striking out Scupin for the second out of the inning. She then struck out Allie Skaggs to end the inning and strand two Wildcats. After Arnold’s work, Sandercock finished with a final line of 3.1 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 1 K, and 0 R.

Freshman Kalei Harding kept the Seminoles momentum going, legging out an infield single to leadoff the bottom half. The FSU threat grew as Sherrill walked for the second time, but Denham was able to work around the jam with a fly-out and a weak grounder to first.

Arnold continued to mow down Arizona hitters in the fifth. The righty worked an efficient 1-2-3 frame. She struck out two batters and needed just nine pitches to get through the inning. Arnold induced six swing-and-misses in her first 16 pitches.

For the second straight inning, the Seminoles put their leadoff hitter on base as Dani Morgan was hit by Denham’s first pitch of the inning. Morgan promptly swiped second to put a runner in scoring position with no outs. The ‘Noles weren’t able to come up with the insurance run as the veteran Denham came up with timely pitches. She struck out Elizabeth Mason to end the inning and strand Morgan at third.

Arnold’s dominant run in the circle continued as she struck out Harper to start the sixth. But after the K, she lost the strike zone for a couple hitters. The righty walked Mulipola on the full count and threw three straight balls to the next hitter. After a mound visit, she was able to settle down and bounce back for a strikeout. Morgan made a running catch on the warning-track in right-center field to put the ‘Noles three outs from a series victory.

Harding ripped a double into the left-center field gap for her second leadoff hit of the day. The freshman was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Shelnutt. The ‘Noles added important insurance as Harding beat out a throw to home on a Sherrill grounder. FSU headed to the 7th with a two-run lead as Denham retired the next two hitters.

Arnold quickly back to work in the circle, retiring the leadoff hitter in just three pitches. She followed a line-out with another strikeout of Skaggs to push Arizona to their last out. Arnold put the exclamation point on her dominant outing with her eighth strikeout to end the game. Arnold finished with a line of 3.2 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 8 K’s, 0 R.