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No. 10 FSU softball advances to the College World Series defeating No. 7 LSU in walk-off fashion

The Seminoles advance to their eleventh College World Series

2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Softball Championship - Game 2

No. 10 Florida State (44-10-1) defeated No. 7 LSU (35-22) by a 4-3 score in nine innings to win the Baton Rouge Super Regional and advance to the College World Series in Oklahoma City.

Game Recap

Florida State was designated the home team. Caylan Arnold (10-6) stepped into the circle for the Seminoles. Arnold retired the first two Tiger hitters then Taylor Pleasants came up and doubled to left centerfield. However, the inning ended on a groundout by Amanda Doyle.

Ali Kilponen (15-9) took the ball for LSU. After a Kaley Mudge fly out Sydney Sherrill doubled off the wall in centerfield. Kilponen regrouped and ended the inning with a pair of strikeouts.

Shelbi Sunseri delivered a two out single for LSU but Morgan Cummings ended the inning with a groundout. Cassidy Davis started the inning with a single for FSU. Devyn Flaherty then reached on a fielder’s choice. However, she was stranded after two straight flyouts.

Arnold set the Tigers down in order in the third. Sydney Sherrill made a great play on a bunt by Aliyah Andrews to retire the LSU speedster for the second out. Mudge singled to center for FSU in the bottom of the inning but she was stranded at first.

Pleasants started the fourth with a single. After an Amanda Doyle flyout, Georgia Clark hammered the first pitch she saw over the left field wall to give LSU a 2-0 lead. Arnold recovered to get a pair of lineouts to end the inning. Kilponen retired the Noles in order in the bottom of the fourth.

In the fifth Taylor Tidwell reached on a rare error from Sherrill with one out. Andrews followed with a single. LSU had runners on first and second with one out. FSU head coach Lonni Alameda visited the circle and replaced Arnold with Danielle Watson. Watson promptly recorded the final two outs to end the threat. In the bottom half of the inning Josie Muffley reached on an error with two outs. However she was stranded at first.

Clark reached on a one out single to centerfield but she was stranded as Watson got the final two outs. Sherrill started the inning with a seven pitch walk. Kalei Harding grounded out but Sherrill advanced to second. Elizabeth Mason stroked a solid single to centerfield scoring Sherrill. However, the Tigers turned a slick double play started by Kilponen to end the threat.

Watson set the Tigers down 1-2-3 in the seventh. FSU was down to their last three outs. Flaherty started it off with a single up the middle. Dani Morgan reached when she hit the ball to Pleasants at short. Pleasants turned to toss it to Tidwell to try to get the force out at second. However, Tidwell was not at the bag and Flaherty used her speed to get there first. FSU now had runners on first and second with nobody out. Anna Shelnutt grounded out but she moved both runners over. LSU’s defensive issues continued as catcher Cummins missed a pitch that rolled to the wall. It was her first passed ball of the year. Flaherty scored the tying run and Morgan advanced to third.

FSU tried a squeeze play to score the winning run. Muffley got the bunt down but LSU played it perfectly and Cummins tagged Morgan out at the plate. There was some controversy over whether Cummins obstructed Morgan at the plate but it wasn’t called. Mudge fouled out to end the inning and they played extras in Baton Rouge.

In the eighth, Pleasants hit a screamer over the left field wall to give LSU a 3-2 lead. Clark hit a two out single but Watson shut the door when Raeleen Gutierrez lined out. In the bottom half of the inning Kilponen retired the first two batters on two pitches. Mason stepped in the batters box and this happened.

Mason’s bomb tied the game at three. Cassidy Davis ended the inning with a strikeout.

Sunseri started the ninth with a walk for LSU. However, Watson responded with three straight outs to end the inning. Flaherty grounded out to start the inning. Morgan followed with a single up the middle. Shelnutt worked a nine pitch walk. Kiersten Landers came up for her first at bat of the Super Regional. She drove a 2-2 pitch down the left field line to score Morgan with the winning run to send Florida State to the College World Series.

Post Game

Danielle Watson (10-1) went 4.2 innings to earn the win. Watson gave up 3 hits, one run with a walk and a strikeout. Caylan Arnold started the game and went 4.1 innings giving up 5 hits and two runs. Arnold had 2 strikeouts and no walks.

Elizabeth Mason was 2 for 4 with 2 RBI and the huge homer. Kiersten Landers was 1 for 1 with an RBI. Sydney Sherrill, Dani Morgan and Devyn Flaherty scored the other runs for FSU.

This game was a gut churning classic. Two heavyweight programs were throwing haymakers and the game could have easily gone either way.

FSU was fortunate that the Tigers had defensive issues in the bottom of the seventh. If they are able to play a clean inning we are getting ready for game 3 tomorrow. The Seminoles deserve credit for being able to take advantage of the miscues.

There will be some talk about the squeeze play in the seventh. I liked it because I favor aggressive offensive play that forces the defense to make a great play to stop the run. Also LSU had been struggling defensively in the inning so it wasn’t a stretch to believe that their issues could continue. On the other hand there was only one out so if Muffley could have hit the ball out of the infield FSU wins. FSU is an aggressive team on the base paths so it is not a shock to see the squeeze play used in that circumstance. LSU coach Beth Torina said after the game that after watching about 30 FSU games they were expecting the squeeze in that situation.

Florida State has been much maligned for their offensive struggles but the Seminoles really came through in the clutch in this one.

FSU is now the first team to punch their ticket to Oklahoma City with the sweep.

Next Game

Florida State will head to Oklahoma City for the College World Series. The Seminoles will face the winner of the LA Super Regional between Virginia Tech and UCLA in the first game of the College World Series.