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FSU softball falls to Duke in ACCT semifinals

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Florida State’s first loss in the ACC Tournament since 2013.

PTFPhoto/ Perrone Ford

No. 8 Florida State softball (39-10-1, 26-6-1 ACC) fell to No. 21 Duke (41-10, 27-10 ACC) by a score of 4-3 ACC Tournament semifinals this afternoon. The ‘Noles had an early miscue in the field and a base-running blunder that kept the Blue Devils in the game. Duke took advantage with a two-run seventh to top FSU. Today’s loss was the Seminoles’ first loss in the ACC Tournament since the 2013 Title game, snapping a 19-game winning streak in the tournament. This will be the first time since 2012 that the ‘Noles are not involved in the championship game.

Caylan Arnold made her 19th start of the season in the circle after Kathryn Sandercock’s complete game shutout yesterday. FSU came into the game with the best fielding percentage in the conference, but struggled to play clean defense in the first. After a fly out for out #1, Gisele Tapia lined a single into right field for the first baserunner of the day. Tapia was able to move into scoring position as Kalei Harding couldn’t handle a short hop in right field. After a strike out for out #2, Arnold looked to strand the runner with a routine pop up to second, but Devin Flaherty lost the ball in the sun as it fell for an RBI-single on the infield dirt. A stolen base, walk, and a wild pitch moved two runners into scoring position. Duke doubled the lead on an infield single, as Josie Muffley made a diving stop at short, but couldn’t get a throw off.

The Seminoles needed a quick spark on the offensive side to get back into the game. Sydney Sherrill provided the much needed spark. Sherrill got her bat to a 3-2 rise ball up in the zone and sent it over the center field wall for a one-out solo home run. The homer was Sherrill’s second of the season.

Harding followed Sherrill with a walk, but Elizabeth Mason grounded into an inning-ending double play. Arnold bounced back in the second inning with a 1-2-3, seven-pitch frame. Arnold got help from Sherrill, as she snagged a hard liner to third base for out #2. Duke’s starter, Peyton St. George, worked her first scoreless inning in the bottom half. Anna Shelnutt beat out a dribbler for a two-out single, but was stranded on a nice play from the Duke shortstop on a slow roller.

Arnold worked around a one-out single in the third for a second straight scoreless inning. Yesterday, the Seminoles made two base-running errors that cost them a couple runs. Today, it was more of the same on the base paths. Dani Morgan led off the inning with a hard grounder past the third baseman for a single. Duke tried to get the lead runner at second on a slow roller, but the throw rolled into the outfield to put runners on the corners with no outs for Sherrill. The left-handed hitter pulled a hard grounder at the first baseman, who caught Morgan in a rundown with a throw home. Morgan was tagged before getting back to third and Kaley Mudge was caught between second and third in a rundown of her own and was tagged for out #2. The play went in the scorebook as a 3-2-6-4 double play. Sherrill was stranded at second on a fly out.

Mudge made up with for the base running error with a spectacular catch in the fourth. The outfielder made a grab running to her right while slamming into the outfield fence in foul territory for out #2.

After a two-out walk, Shelnutt picked up a bunt and threw a strike to first base to end a scoreless frame. St. George set the middle third of FSU’s lineup down in order in the bottom half with two strikeouts. It was her first 1-2-3 inning. Kamryn Jackson extended the fifth inning with her second hit of the day, but Arnold was able to work around it for a scoreless fifth.

The Seminoles finally found the offensive answer for George in the bottom half. Anna Shelnutt ripped a leadoff single up the middle for her second hit. D’Aun Riggs pinch ran for the catcher and was moved up to second on a sac-bunt. Mudge extended the inning with an infield single to third, putting runners on the corners with two outs for Sherrill. The third baseman came through with her second two-strike hit. Sherrill lined a hanging drop ball into right field to tie the game at two.

The ‘Noles took the lead on Duke’s second error. Harding grounded to short, but it couldn’t be handled by the shortstop as Mudge crossed the plate to give the Seminoles a 3-2 lead. With FSU on top, Lonni Alameda turned to Kathryn Sandercock in the circle. Caylan Arnold posted a line of 5 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 R, and 67 pitches. Her season ERA is at 2.14. Sandercock opened her day with three straight groundouts for a 1-2-3, seven pitch frame to put the ‘Noles three outs from the ACC Tournament title game. FSU couldn’t find any insurance in the sixth as St. George worked around a hit-by-pitch for a scoreless sixth.

Carolina Jacobsen started the seventh with a single into center. Jacobsen was the first leadoff runner to reach base for Duke. A walk put two on with no outs for the top of the Blue Devils’ order. After taking a ball to the face in between innings, Muffley made a leaping grab on a liner at short for out #1. Tapia followed with another hard hit ball to short. This one was out of the reach of Muffley to tie the game at three and put runners on the corners with one out. The Blue Devils took the lead back on a sac fly to left off the bat of Jackson. Sandercock ended the inning with a grounder to second.

Morgan lined out to second to start the inning. Mudge was robbed of a one-out single on a diving grab by the Duke second baseman on another line-out. St. George sent the Blue Devils to the title game with a fly-out to left.