OKLAHOMA CITY – The five core values of Florida State softball – Family, Smart, Aggressive, Competitive and Committed – that has built the foundation for this season were all on display Sunday night as the No. 7 Seminoles (55-10) twice battled back from multi-run deficits against No. 5 Auburn (57-10) to force extra innings before falling to the Tigers, 8-7, in eight innings to end their run at the 2016 Women’s College World Series.
“I don’t think we could be more proud of the steps we’ve taken for Florida State softball,” said FSU head coach Lonni Alameda. “This is Team 33, and they’ve really taken the legacy a step further. We just talk about the process, and you couldn’t be more proud of the fight they had from game one, how much we’ve learned, to today just leaving it all out there.
“The people to my right were outstanding in that, but I was a full team effort. Every single person in the dugout made a huge effort for this team to give everything they had. It’s an L, but it’s truly a win for us because we are a better program and we’re going to move forward and be stronger.”
Florida State got out to an early lead in the top of the first inning as Jessica Warren was hit by a pitch, her team-leading 22nd HBP of the season. Alex Powers knocked her 16th double of the season into the gap in left center to score Warren and give the Noles a 1-0 lead.
Auburn came back to take the lead in the bottom of the first as Tiffany Howard led off with an infield single. A walk to Emily Carosone allowed Carlee Wallace to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead with a three-run home run to center.
The Noles tied the game in the top of the second with Carsyn Gordon reaching on an Auburn fielding error to start the inning. She moved to second on a groundout and came in to score on an RBI triple by Morgan Klaevemann back up the middle that rolled all the way to the wall. Klaevemann came in to score a batter later as Warren hit an RBI single to right, tying the game at 3-3.
Auburn made a pitching change to start the third inning, bringing in Makayla Martin to replace starter Kaylee Carlson. Cali Harrod reached on a one-out walk and immediately stole second, ending up on third after a throwing error from AU’s Wallace. Gordon gave the Noles the lead with an RBI single through the right side, scoring Harrod from third to make it 4-3 Florida State.
The Tigers led off the bottom of the third with a single and a walk, prompting a pitching change from FSU as Jessica Burroughs entered the game for Meghan King. Burroughs gave up a home run to the first batter she faced, Jade Rhodes, as Auburn regained the lead, 6-4.
Auburn added to its lead in the fourth inning as a solo home run by Kasey Cooper made it 7-4.
The Seminoles threatened in the sixth inning Gordon led off with a single to center and Zoe Casas added a single of her own that went off the glove of a leaping Carosone at second base. Auburn made a pitching change, entering Rachael Walters into the game for Martin.
Klaevemann nearly had an extra-base hit to left center, but was robbed on a diving catch by Auburn’s Victoria Draper for the second out of the inning. A walk to Warren loaded the bases, but Powers’ fly ball to center was caught to end the inning.
Meghan King re-entered to pitch in the bottom of the sixth, ending Burroughs’ day in the circle. Burroughs tossed 3.0 innings of relief, giving up three hits and two runs without a walk or a strikeout.
Sydney Broderick opened the FSU seventh inning with a single to right field and Ellie Cooper followed with a walk. Harrod tied the game with her fifth home run of the season, a three-run shot to right center to tie the game at 7-7.
Gordon walked and moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt from Kossoff. Klaevemann extended the inning on an eight-pitch walk with two outs and an HBP to Warren, her second of the game, loaded the bases. A groundout to short ended the inning and forced the bottom of the seventh.
Auburn managed a baserunner in the bottom of the seventh on an FSU fielding error, but King retired the next two batters she faced to force extra frames.
In the FSU eighth, Carlson re-entered to pitch for Auburn and issued a walk to Broderick to open the inning. A sacrifice bunt from Cooper moved her up to second base, but Carlson ended the inning with a pair of strikeouts.
AU’s Madi Gipson singled to left to start the bottom of the eighth and the ball got away from the FSU left fielder, allowing Gipson to run all the way to third. Gipson was pinch-run for Morgan Podany as Whitney Jordan stepped to the plate. Jordan grounded a ball to Warren at third and Podany sprinted toward home. Warren spun and threw home, but Podany was able to slide under the tag from Broderick, ending the game with an 8-7 Auburn victory, sending the Tigers to the WCWS Championship Series.
King (25-5) took the loss, pitching 4.0 innings and giving up six runs, five earned, on five hits with three walks and a strikeout.
AU’s Carlson (19-2) earned the win with 3.0 innings pitched, four hits, three runs, one earned, along with one walk and five strikeouts.
Florida State concludes another impressive season under Alameda as they won the ACC regular season title for the fourth straight season, the ACC tournament championship for the third consecutive year, reached the NCAA Super Regional round for the fourth straight time, advanced to the Women’s College World Series for the second time in three years and earned its first win the WCWS since 2004.
It is the 17th time that FSU has won 50 or more games in a season. The Noles set a school record with 459 runs scored and also finished with 155 stolen bases, which ranks second all-time in FSU history.
Individually, the Seminoles set an ACC record with six student-athletes on the All-ACC First Team, including ACC Player of the Year (Powers) and ACC Pitcher of the Year (Burroughs). Alameda was also named ACC Coach of the Year for the fourth season in a row.
King was named an NFCA National Player of the Week earlier this season after throwing a perfect game against Tulsa on March 12. After Tulsa won the American Athletic Conference tournament, King became the seventh pitcher since 2005 to record a perfect game against a team that would go on to win its conference title.
Powers (Second Team) and Burroughs (Third Team), along with Warren (Third Team) were also named NFCA All-Americans as it marked the sixth time in school history that FSU placed three student-athletes on the NFCA All-American teams.
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