OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — National Champion.
For a storied program that had reached the Women’s College World Series nine times before, had three different National Players of the Year and was led by NFCA Hall of Fame Coach JoAnne Graf who was the first in NCAA history to win 1,400 games, the last accomplishment was finally secured on Tuesday night as Florida State earned the 2018 NCAA National Championship with a 8-3 win over Washington.
The Seminoles (58-12) received a gutsy performance from Meghan King in the circle and weathered an early deficit in the come-from-behind victory over the Huskies (52-10).
On the night, the lefty went the full seven innings, giving up five hits and three runs (one earned). The redshirt junior gave walked none and struck out four.
The Seminoles are just the third team in NCAA history to lose their first game of the WCWS and come all the way back through the loser’s bracket to win the title, joining Texas A&M (1983) and UCLA (2003). The 12 losses for Florida State are tied for the third most from a national champion in NCAA history and the most since Florida’s 55-12 record in 2014.
It is the 16th National Championship for Florida State, the third for softball and the first in the fastpitch era. Softball’s previous AIAW Championships in 1981 and 1982, along with the 2018 NCAA title matches Football (1993, 1999, 2013) for the most from any sport in school history. Men’s Outdoor Track and Field (2006, 2008), Men’s Volleyball (1955, 1957) and Men’s Gymnastics (1951, 1952) each have two titles, while Women’s Soccer (2014), Women’s Indoor Track and Field (1985), Women’s Outdoor Track and Field (1984) and Women’s Golf (1981) each have one National Championship.
An energetic Huskies’ team scratched three runs across in the top of the first before the Seminoles even came to the plate. After a leadoff single by Taylor Van Zee, a passed ball moved her to second. Then, a sacrifice bunt attempt was thrown away by Jessie Warren to the bag at first, allowing Van Zee to score to make it 1-0, Washington. Later in the inning, a tough pop fly into shallow center field fell between Morgan Klaevemann and Sydney Sherrill allowing another run to come across. The final Washington run of the inning came on an RBI groundout by Taryn Atlee.
Florida State responded in a big way with their first opportunity of the game as Warren smashed a single to left field to get things started for the Noles. After a pair of strikeouts, “Post-season Anna” stepped to the plate a mashed a two-run homer to straight center field, cutting the Huskies lead to 3-2.
The momentum continued for the Noles in the second as Zoe Casas started the frame off with a double to left-center that was followed by a Cali Harrod walk. Two batters later, Elizabeth Mason gave the Noles their first lead of the game with a hard single to right-center that bounced off the glove of the Husky right fielder and trickled to the wall. This allowed both Harrod and Casas to race around the bases and score giving the Noles a 4-3 advantage. A Warren RBI single through the left side extended the lead to 5-3 in the three-run inning.
In the third inning, Sherrill doubled to left-center, but was stranded at second after a flyout and a pair of strikeouts. For the freshman out of Moore, Okla. it marked her 29th double of the 2018 campaign, setting a new ACC record and tying the NCAA single-season mark.
Trouble brewed for the Noles in the Washington fourth inning as the Huskies loaded the bases with a pair of singles and an error on King with two outs. But the lefty, who’s been so strong for FSU this post-season, induced a groundout to end the inning.
FSU continued its offensive onslaught in the fourth thanks to a pair of home runs.
After Klaevemann was hit by a pitch with one out, she stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error. Mason then broke the game wide open as she laced a 2-2 offering over the wall in center, extending FSU’s lead to 7-3. Warren followed with a blast of her own, a no-doubt moonshot to center that gave her 13 total hits in the Women’s College World Series, tying the record for most hits in a single tournament.
That’s all the runs the Seminoles would need as King slammed the door shut on the Huskies the rest of the way, the final play a groundout that clinched the school’s first NCAA National Championship.
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2018 Florida State Softball Accolades
– NCAA National Champion
– Tenth trip to the Women’s College World Series
– Fifth-straight ACC Tournament Championship, 16th in school history
– Sixth-consecutive regular season ACC Championship, 16th in school history
– Three NFCA All-Americans, 3+ for the third year in a row
– Five NFCA All-Region members
– Five All-ACC First Team selections, including ACC Pitcher of the Year, ACC Player of the Year and ACC Freshman of the Year