No. 10 Florida State (49-13-1) was defeated by No. 1 Oklahoma (56-4) by a 5-1 score in game three of the Championship Series of the College World Series in Oklahoma City, OK.
Oklahoma was designated the home team for this game. The Sooners sent Giselle Juarez to the circle. Kaley Mudge started the game off with a double to the right centerfield gap. However, she was stranded at second as Juarez retired the next three Seminoles. Danielle Watson started in the circle for Florida State. Jocelyn Alo slugged a one out homer over the left field wall to give the Sooners the early 1-0 lead. However, Watson bounced back to get the next two batters to end the inning.
Juarez retired the Noles in order in the top of the second. In the bottom of the inning Jayda Coleman sent a 2-1 pitch over the left field wall to give OU a 2-0 lead. Grace Lyons followed with a walk. Jana Johns reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second but was stranded there on a groundout.
Kalei Harding drew a walk to start the third. Juarez then retired the next two batters. Sydney Sherrill hit a towering popup that Tiare Jennings lost in the sun. The ball dropped in the infield allowing Harding to score and Sherrill to advance to second base. Sherrill would have normally been out due to the infield fly rule but there were two outs so that rule was not in effect. Sherrill was stranded at second but the Noles had cut the lead to 2-1. Jennings started the bottom of the third with a single up the middle. Emma Wilson came in to relieve Watson. Alo advanced Jennings to second on a groundout. Kinzie Hansen walked on four pitches. Nicole Mendes grounded out but the runners advanced to second and third. Mackenzie Donihoo then walked to load the bases. Wilson uncorked a wild pitch scoring Jennings and allowing the other runners to move up a base. Coleman then doubled to left field scoring Donihoo and Hansen. Kathryn Sandercock came in for Wilson and retired Lyons for the third out but the damage had been done as OU now had a 5-1 lead.
In the fourth inning Juarez was on cruise control setting the Noles down in order. Sandercock matched her as the Sooners were three up and three down in the bottom of the fourth.
The fifth inning again saw FSU go down 1-2-3. Alo singled to start the fifth but Hansen grounded into a double play and Mendes grounded out to end the inning.
In the sixth the Seminole bats stayed cold as FSU was retired in order. Sandercock set down OU in the bottom half of the sixth on three straight ground outs.
In the seventh Anna Shelnutt worked a two out walk but the game ended on a popout to Juarez in the circle and Oklahoma hoisted the trophy after a 5-1 victory.
Danielle Watson went 2 innings allowing 3 hits, 3 runs (all earned) with one walk and two strikeouts. Emma Wilson went two thirds of an inning allowing one hit, 2 runs (both earned) with 2 walks and no strikeouts. Kathryn Sandercock pitched 3.1 innings allowing one hit and no runs with no walks or strikeouts.
Sydney Sherrill was 1 for 3 with an RBI.
Congratulations to Kaley Mudge who broke a record with 14 hits in the College World Series.
The Sooners really stretched the lead in that third inning when Wilson was in the circle. This was an unexpected move and was likely the reason that the move was made. It seemed like head coach Lonni Alameda was trying to catch the Sooners off guard. There is some logic to that strategy as it is very unlikely that Sooner coach Patty Gasso spent much if any time preparing her team to face Wilson who had only pitched 20 innings all year before this game. Of course the downside to this strategy is that Wilson is only a freshman and the moment was clearly too big for her with the walks and the wild pitch.
However, while that decision obviously made it harder for FSU to win the game it was not the reason why the Noles actually lost. Again it was the offense. Juarez was dominant in the circle. FSU only had two hits off of her and one of those hits was a pop up that was lost in the sun. The only reason that was scored a hit and not an error is that the ball wasn’t touched by a fielder before it hit the ground. FSU was never going to shut out Oklahoma so it didn’t really matter that Wilson struggled if the Noles weren’t going to be able to hit.
While it is always disappointing to lose at any time, this season as a whole was a huge success for the Florida State softball program. Millions of viewers were watching these games (the ratings were through the roof) and they saw a team that played with a lot of heart who continually beat long odds.
Counting the Super Regionals, the Seminoles played 10 games to end the season. They played two games against the #7 team (LSU), one game against the #2 team (UCLA), one game against the #11 team (Arizona), one game against the #5 team (Oklahoma State), two games against the #3 team (Alabama) and three games against the #1 team (Oklahoma). The Noles went a remarkable 7-3 in those games. Keep in mind that six of them were either true road games (Baton Rouge) or basically road games (Oklahoma City). The other four were neutral site games.
FSU also had to win four elimination games in that stretch. Not withstanding today’s game this team usually comes up huge in the big moments and that stretch proved the point.
There will be dividends realized from this week. Everyone on this team (even those that didn’t play) got valuable experience that will be important for the future. I will flesh this out more as we get closer to next season but there are some compelling reasons to believe that next year’s team will be even better.
However, there will be time for that later. Right now let’s thank the five seniors who were so important in making this year such a success. Dani Morgan, Elizabeth Mason, Caylan Arnold, Anna Shelnutt, and Cassidy Davis; Thanks for all that you have done for this program. You have done nothing but make us proud as alumni. I look forward to seeing you in the stands in Oklahoma City this time next year as you cheer your younger sisters on to a national championship.