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College World Series: FSU vs. UCLA

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Noles face UCLA in the nightcap

Syndication: Tallahassee Democrat Tori Lynn Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The road to a national championship has arrived in Oklahoma City as the Women’s College World Series gets underway tonight.

For Florida State, it’ll get started the same way their last WCWS appearance did — against UCLA. First pitch for that game is set for 9:30 p.m. on ESPN.

That last WCWS opening game meeting between the two came in 2018. FSU dropped that game to the Bruins, 4-7, but it set off a run of six straight wins including two against UCLA that culminated in a national title.

How They Got Here

No. 10 ranked Florida State arrives in OKC fresh off an unblemished record in the regionals. The Seminoles swept their way through the Tallahassee Regional and Baton Rouge Super Regional in large part thanks to their dominant pitching. So far this postseason, FSU’s staff has a combined 0.76 ERA and held opponents to just .143 batting average.

For No. 2 UCLA, the path was a bit more difficult. After also sweeping through their home regional, the Bruins dropped the opener of their Super Regional against Virginia Tech but clawed back winning the final two games by a combined 8-0.

Keys To The Game

Manufacturing Runs: For the Seminoles to win, they’ll have to find ways to push across runs. The Bruins are second in the country in ERA, first in strikeout-to-walk ratio, and tied for first in shutouts. Their pitchers simply don’t allow free passes often so FSU will have to hit their way around the bases.

Pressure on the defense: Virginia Tech was able to post a seven-spot with 11 hits off UCLA’s top arm in that Super Regional opener. But the Bruins also committed a season-high five errors in that contest. On the year they do have a .974 fielding percentage, which ranks 24th in the country, but perhaps some pressure could lead to a repeat performance.

Shutdown in the Circle: Facing a staff as strong as UCLA’s will require a matched performance from the Noles’ arms. Luckily, they’re capable of doing just that. Kathryn Sandercock will likely get the start for Florida State fresh off her complete-game shutout in Game 1 of last weekend’s Super Regional.

What’s Next

A victory will send FSU to the winner’s bracket for a contest against either No. 3 Alabama or No. 11 Arizona at 9:30 p.m. Friday. A loss sets up an elimination game against one of those same two teams Friday at 2:30 p.m.

Game notes via FSU Sports Info

  • Florida State enters the WCWS ranked No. 9 by USA Softball and No. 8 by the NFCA. The Noles have been ranked in 123 consecutive polls by USA Softball.
  • Florida State had six student-athletes earn All-ACC Honors. Sydney Sherrill led the back being named the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight team. She was joined on the All-ACC First Team by Devyn Flaherty and Kathryn Sandercock. Caylan Arnold was selected to the second team and Kalei Harding and Dani Morgan were selected to the third team. Flaherty and Harding were also named to the All-Freshman Team.
  • Through 55 games this season, the Seminoles have shown their speed recording 107 stolen bases in 121 attempts. Devyn Flaherty leads the Noles with 16 stolen bases.
  • The Seminole offense has scored 275 runs in the first 55 games of the season. This has come as the Seminoles have put together 116 total extra base hits, including 42 home runs and 69 doubles to go with five triples. Cassidy Davis is leading the way with eight doubles, one triple and nine home runs.
  • The Florida State pitching staff is a three headed monster lead by Kathryn Sandercock. She along with Caylan Arnold and Danielle Watson have combined for 44 wins and a team ERA of 1.61. Arnold leads Florida State with 132 strikeouts and Sandercock leads the team with a 1.09 ERA and a 24-2 record. Watson and Arnold both have 10 wins each.
  • The Florida State pitching staff has combined for a 1.61 ERA good for 7th best in the country.