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No. 3 FSU Softball advances to WCWS championship final with win over No. 4 Tennessee

FSU will face the Oklahoma Sooners for their 2nd finals appearances in 3 years

Charles Mays/Tomahawknation

After taking a gritty win against No. 7 Washington, Florida State softball moved on to their semi-final game against No. 4 Tennessee. As FSU sat in the winners bracket, Tennessee would need to win two games in a double header to advance to the championship series.

As the designated away team, the FSU offense went 1-2-3 against Lady Vols starter Payton Gottshall. Against the Tennessee offense, it was Mack Leonard who got the start, and started off well with a line drive out. Facing Ziada Puni, Leonard gave up a solo shot to put Tennessee up early. A walk put another runner on base but two outs got Leonard out of the jam.

Looking for a response in the 2nd, Michaela Edenfield led off with exactly that. On a full count against Gottshall, Edenfield went yard to tie the game. After allowing the long ball, Gottshall sat down the next three Seminoles.

Only a walk was issued from Leonard, and FSU went back to the 8-9-1 part of the lineup in the 3rd. As the lead off hitter, Bethaney Keen added the FSU’s 2nd run off of a solo shot herself. The ball off of her bat was her first one since 2021, and first as a Seminole.

A one out double from Kaley Mudge added another baserunner for Gottshall, but Tennessee decided her day was done. In relief, Karlyn Pickens inherited Mudge at second, who soon got to third on a stolen base. A strike out and ground out got Pickens and Tennessee out of the inning.

After two innings of work, Leonard’s day in the circle was over and she gave way to Makenna Reid. As her welcome to the game, Reid struck out Kiki Milloy on three pitches. After getting called for a slew of illegal pitches, FSU quickly saw themselves with Tennessee runners on first and third with two out. Despite the challenges from the umpires, Reid ended her inning with a strike out.

In the 5th, Keen started out with her second hit of the ball game, an infield single. Following Keen on base was Josie Muffley, who reached via a hit by pitch. After Pickens allowed two baserunners with one out, she departed for the Lady Vols ace, Ashley Rogers. Getting the first out, Jahni Kerr came up with an RBI single that put FSU up 3-1.

With the Tennessee lineup turning over again, FSU went to Kathryn Sandercock. In her first outing against the Lady Vols, Sandercock returned all three Tennessee batters to their dugout on a ground out and two strike outs.

In the top of the 6th, Michaela Edenfield led off with a walk, and the greatest sub in all of sports was given. As a pinch runner, Amaya Ross stole second and advanced another 60 feet on a fly out. With Hallie Wacaser at the plate against the Tennessee ace, she went yard for the Seminoles 3rd homerun of the game.

Back out for the bottom of the 6th, a one out fielder's choice led to two runners on and two outs for FSU’s defense. A strike out ended the frame and the Seminoles offense faced Payton Gottshall again, who re-entered for Rogers.

Facing Gottshall again, Muffley singled against the starter to lead off the 7th. Erased on a fielder’s choice, Mudge reached safely and stole second to get into scoring position. A bunt by Kerr was placed perfectly and runners landed at first and third, and the stolen base put both in scoring position. A steal of home, initially ruled safe, was overturned to out for the final out of the 7th.

The 5th year senior stepped in in the bottom of the 7th. Against Tennessee’s 9-1-2, Kat got a strike out, fly out, and pop out to advance to the Championship Series.

Gwyn’s Player of the Game

With her first homerun as a Seminole, Bethaney Keen helped pad the lead against Tennessee. 3-2 at the plate, Keen had 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI.

Up next

FSU will face Oklahoma in the WCWS championship series, starting Wednesday at 8 pm on ESPN.