Florida State softball is in pursuit of another national title and there is significant offseason soccer news. Let’s discuss these events in more detail starting with the team that is actually still playing.
(3) Florida State run-ruled (6) Oklahoma State 8-0 last night in the College World Series. FSU limited mistakes and benefitted from a pair of dingers courtesy of Michaela Edenfield and Kaley Mudge. That offensive production was more than enough for All-American pitcher Kathryn Sandercock who pitched a gem pairing with reliever Mack Leonard to shut out the Cowgirls. Tomahawk Nation softball writer Gwyn Rhodes has much more on the game and the entire series here.
The game was delayed by weather for over an hour. If that wasn’t enough the game was interrupted in the top of the third inning by another weather delay that lasted nearly two hours. Edenfield’s blast had given FSU a 2-0 lead at the time that the game was interrupted. OSU head coach Kenny Gajewski then made an interesting move. He replaced starter Kelly Maxwell with reliever Kyra Aycock. Before we discuss this decision in more detail let’s take a look at what Coach Gajewski had to say about the move in the post game press conference.
Q. Can you walk us through your decision to put Kyra
in instead of going with Kelly.
KENNY GAJEWSKI: Yeah, it was an easy one to be very
As the delay got longer, Kelly, her history, we know her
history very well. The more she sits, it doesn’t usually work
out in her favor.
We didn’t like the momentum that we didn’t have, and felt
like, Hey, let’s get a change-up here, let’s get Kyra in there.
You know, as far as Kyra goes, she’s thrown one inning in
the last two weeks. That’s not enough. She’s a kid that
the more she throws, the better that she’ll be.
Trying to be back here every year. To do that, I got to get
these kids experience. We felt like it was the best move for
our team at that time.
Before I discuss this move in more detail let’s stipulate a couple of things. First, Gajewski obviously knows his team infinitely better than I do. Maybe Maxwell does struggle to regain her form after an extended break. Perhaps she wouldn’t have been at her best after the delay. Let’s assume that is true.
Secondly, let’s assume that Sandercock would have maintained her impressive form for seven full innings making it tough for the Cowgirls to score.
Nevertheless, the score was only 2-0. The lead was hardly insurmountable especially with 4+ innings to play. Also, every game at the World Series is absolutely precious. You can’t afford to give any game away. Gajewski was replacing a redshirt senior with a freshman who has an ERA almost a run higher and a batting average against of .264 (Maxwell’s is .155). This move makes absolutely no sense if the number one goal is to win this game. Say what you want about Maxwell not being at her best after a delay, it is still unreasonable to expect a freshman to perform better than your senior ace in the College World Series.
Therefore, this was an interesting move. Despite what he said in the presser, it is clear that Gajewski was hedging his bets. He wasn’t confident in his team’s ability to come back after seeing Sandercock on her game for 2.1 innings. The absolute worst outcome for him would be for Maxwell to pitch six or seven innings and still lose the game. It would be tough to bring Maxwell back the next day and expect her to perform well on such short rest.
The goal is to win the CWS. From that lens in retrospect this might have been the right move. FSU was already up 2-0 at the time and Sandercock was dealing. OSU may not have been able to score against Sandercock and if so it wouldn’t have mattered who was in the circle for the Cowgirls.
Now Gajewski has both of his top pitchers (Maxwell and Lexi Kilfoyl) available today. He avoided the worst case scenario but the price was that he likely significantly decreased his team’s ability to come back against FSU.
To be clear, the Seminoles more than likely would have won the game even if Maxwell had stayed in based on how Sandercock was pitching. However, the Noles weren’t exactly pounding Maxwell. Edenfield’s blast was the only hit Maxwell allowed. Maxwell also recorded three strikeouts in her two innings. There was always a chance that the Cowgirls could have rallied. Remember, the deficit was only 2-0. However, when Aycock came in the Noles took full advantage and the rout was on. That is the trade Gajewski made. He accepted a lower chance in this game in order to have a better chance in today’s elimination game.
I went through that because I thought that the pitching change decision was interesting and because it was probably the best case scenario for Florida State. It’s probably going too far to say that OSU was waving the white flag by putting Aycock in but what happened after that wasn’t exactly a surprise.
Looking forward, FSU got its feet wet in the World Series in a relatively easy game that should give the team additional confidence. If that wasn’t enough, Washington and Utah were unable to play yesterday so the winner of that game will have to face FSU at a significant disadvantage. The Noles will have an extra day of rest and will therefore be able to bring Sandercock back again for the next game. Coach Lonni Alameda has not announced who will pitch the next game but based on her history I would be stunned if anyone but Sandercock appeared in the circle to start the game for FSU.
Florida State needs to go out and take full advantage by winning the game but this tournament is setting up very well for the Seminoles. As discussed, FSU will play the winner of the Washington/Utah game and the winner of that game will be on short rest.
That alone gives the Noles a leg up but it gets better. Both the Utes and the Huskies rely heavily on a single ace. Ruby Meylan has pitched 169.1 innings for the Huskies. The second pitcher (Kelley Lynch) only has 77.2 innings pitched. The story is similar for Utah. Mariah Lopez has pitched 191.2 innings for the Utes while Sydney Sandez has pitched 106 innings. Lopez has a 2.15 ERA and is the only pitcher on the staff with an ERA lower than three.
In other words, FSU will have a rested Sandercock against either an ace on short rest for the Huskies or Utes or their second best pitcher. Again, the Noles still need to win the game but they seem to have a golden opportunity in front of them. We’ll see if they can take advantage.
Florida State has finally found its backup goal keeper. And she is a good one.
Trusting the process, God has a plan! Go seminoles!!!— addie todd (@addietoddd) May 21, 2023
I want to thank Oklahoma and all of my coaches, teammates, and friends for the great spring semester and for your continuous belief in me
Adelyn “Addie” Todd (Littleton, Colo., Columbine HS, Real Colorado) is a transfer from Oklahoma. Todd is a member of the 2023 recruiting class. She spent the spring semester in Norman but never actually played for the Sooners so she has four full years of eligibility remaining.
Here is Todd’s resume:
Four-star product by Top Drawer Soccer
• No. 56 player in the class by Top Drawer Soccer
• 2021-22 Colorado 5A All-State
• 2021-22 First Team All-Conference
• Three-time team captain for Columbine HS
• 2022 5A State semifinalist
• 2021 5A State quarterfinalist
• 2021-22 ECNL First-Team Northwest Conference
• 2022 ECNL All-American
• 2022 U17 ECNL National Champions
• 2021-22 ECNL Northwest Conference Champions
• U.S. Under-17 and Under-15 Women’s Youth National Team Camp Invitee
Todd is one of the top three or four goalkeepers in this class. She is more than talented enough to be a very good number one keeper when Cristina Roque moves on to the pros in a couple of years.
Todd joins D Maggie Taitano (San Diego Surf – No. 8), D Amelia Van Zanten (Eclipse Select – No. 20), F Jordynn Dudley (United Futbol Academy – No. 23), M Peyton Nourse (Colorado Rush – No. 30) in FSU’s 2023 class along with transfers M Taylor Huff (Tennessee), M Claire Rain (Tennessee), and F Lily Farkas (Michigan).
This class was ranked third by Top Drawer Soccer before Todd’s commitment.
You may be wondering why she is leaving Oklahoma. The Sooners parted ways with coach Mark Carr and that lead to several players (at least eight) leaving the program.
Yes, he was lucky that this opportunity popped up but Coach Brian Pensky and his staff deserve credit for taking full advantage of the opportunity and landing a talent as good as Todd.
At this late date most of the top talent in the portal has already been snapped up. I always expected FSU to get a backup keeper but I thought that it would just be a place holder player to get through this year before focusing on the 2024 class to get someone to eventually replace Roque. Florida State actually did better by securing the keeper of the future in the 2023 class.
Now the only offseason question of note for the soccer team is whether Heather Payne will return. As we have previously discussed, Payne will wait until after the World Cup to make her decision.
As always, the comments are yours.