TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the ninth time in program history, the Florida State softball program will compete for a national championship in Oklahoma City as the No. 7 Seminoles (53-8) defeated No. 25 Utah (35-22) by a score of 3-0 on Saturday afternoon to earn a trip to the 2016 Women’s College World Series.
The Noles will be one of the final eight teams in the NCAA postseason for the second time in the last three years, as FSU reached the WCWS in 2014. Florida State recorded its 20th shutout of the season and extended its winning streak to 10 games.
“I think we’ve talked about over and over again how young we are and how we’re growing up through the game,” said FSU head coach Lonni Alameda. “Our motto all season long has been ‘Right Knee Down, RKD’ and holding each other accountable. I think that’s been something that has been really awesome, from our upperclassmen to our freshmen, but outstanding from our freshmen to be able to be mature enough to handle that, and it really showed up today.
“We were very relaxed in a lot of big situations and we trusted the process. I couldn’t be more proud of the people to my left and to my right that represent our entire team. It’s taken 24 of us. So, very excited for our next step now and for this opportunity.”
The Noles got a pair of runners on in each of the first two innings, but double plays in each frame by the Utah defense kept the game scoreless until the third inning.
In the FSU half of the third, Ellie Cooper chopped a two-out single over the head of Utah first baseman Bridget Castro to set the stage for Warren. The sophomore third baseman crushed a 3-0 pitch deep over the wall in right field for her 18th home run of the season, giving the Noles a 2-0 lead.
The Noles put multiple runners on again in the fourth inning on a walk by Cali Harrod and a single from Zoe Casas, but both would be left stranded after a pop out and a ground out.
Florida State showed they could also turn a double play as a leadoff single in the bottom of the fourth by Hannah Flippen was neutralized on a grounder to Warren and she tossed to Cooper who fired to Alex Powers at first for the Noles’ 24th double play of the season.
Utah earned their third double play of the game in the fifth inning as FSU’s Cooper hit her second base hit of the game with a one out single up the middle, but was doubled off as Warren’s flare into shallow right was caught on a diving attempt by Utah RF Sammy Cordova to start the inning-ending double play.
The double plays at JoAnne Graf Field continued in the bottom of the fifth as Utah’s Hailey Hilburn led off the inning with a single to right, but a line out to Warren at third by Castro doubled her off first base for FSU’s second double play of the game.
The Seminoles added to their lead in the seventh inning as Korina Rosario led off with a single that tipped off the glove of a leaping Anissa Urtez at shortstop. Rosario stole second and moved up to third on an infield single from Alex Kossoff.
Sophomore Morgan Klaevemann stepped in and dropped a perfect RBI bunt single to score Rosario and extend the lead to 3-0. The Utah defense didn’t allow the Noles to bring in any more runs as they turned their fourth double play of the game to end the inning.
FSU pitcher Meghan King closed out the game in the circle, opening the bottom of the seventh with a strikeout of Pac-12 Player of the Year Hannah Flippen. Urtez followed with an infield single to bring Kristen Stewart to the plate.
Fittingly, the game ended on a double play as a ground ball to Harrod was flipped to Cooper and on to Powers to end the game and send the Seminoles to the Women’s College World Series.
King (25-3) needed only 72 pitches to earn the victory and her seventh complete-game shutout of the season. The redshirt freshman faced only two over the minimum in the 7.0-inning win and did not allow a Ute runner to advance beyond first base for the entire game. For the game, King scattered four hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
The Seminoles will play No. 15 Georgia (45-18) on Thursday, June 2 in their first game of the 2016 WCWS at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Game time and television networks will be announced at a later date.
Tickets for the 2016 Women’s College World Series are available now at NCAA.com/WCWS, and there is also a ticket exchange available to buy and sell tickets from other fans.
Follow Florida State softball on Twitter (@FSU_Softball) and Instagram (fsusoftball), and like our Facebook page (Facebook.com/FSUsoftball) to keep up to date with everything about Seminole softball.