TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It may have said February on the calendar, but the 82-degree temperature at first pitch and two Top-15 teams facing off against each other made it feel more like May at JoAnne Graf Field on Friday night in the first day of the 2018 ACC/Big Ten Softball Challenge.
No. 8 Florida State (6-0) and No. 14 Minnesota (5-1) showed why they were two of the best teams in the country in a back-and-forth pitcher’s duel that was not decided until the final out in FSU’s 3-2 victory.
Sydney Sherrill’s two-RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning put the Seminoles up 3-1, though a Minnesota rally in the top of the seventh cut the lead to 3-2 and put the go-ahead run on base before a diving stop by FSU’s Carsyn Gordon knocked down a ball destined for extra bases down the right field line and ended the game with a put out at first.
“Great win, and I loved the fight of this team,” said FSU head coach Lonni Alameda. “We gave up a run early but stayed in it and worked and worked and Syd came through with a big hit for us. Minnesota is going to win a lot of games and they know how to compete. And now comes the fun part of who can make adjustments going into tomorrow’s game. Who can get just that much better, as the difference tonight between winning and losing was very small.”
The Noles threatened in the first inning as a leadoff walk to Morgan Klaevemann put her on base and she moved to third after a stolen base and a groundout. Gordon topped a ball in front of the plate, and the throw to third was late for an infield single, but Klaevemann was retired at the plate on the return throw home.
Minnesota scored an unearned run in the top of the second inning to take a 1-0 lead. Danielle Parlich reached on a one-out fielding error by Florida State and scored on a two-out double by Carlie Brandt to left center.
It was the only run scored until the bottom of the fifth as FSU’s Meghan King and UofM’s Amber Fiser allowed just eight total baserunners between them through 4.5 innings, including seven strikeouts.
The Seminoles tied the game in the bottom of the fifth after Zoe Casas led off with a double to right center. She moved to third on a groundout, and an infield single by Anna Shelnutt put runners on the corners. Elizabeth Mason came in to run for Casas at third, and on a ball back to the pitcher off the bat of Korina Rosario, Mason baited a throw to third allowing the Noles to load the bases with one out. After a fielder’s choice by Klaevemann retired Mason at the plate, Jessie Warren tied the game at 1-1 by being hit by a pitch.
King pitched a scoreless sixth and Florida State took its first lead of the game in the sixth as Cali Harrod led off with a nine-pitch at bat that finished with a single up the middle. A stolen base by Harrod and a walk to Mason set the stage for Sherrill to drive them both in on a lined double to the gap in left center.
“The game was intense, but we were on it from the get-go, so I knew that we would come through,” said Sherrill. “We’ve been working all game and I was under one and then on top of another, so I was just waiting for my pitch. This just shows that we are a comeback team. We are never down and you can never count us out. Really excited for the rest of this weekend and the season as a whole.”
Minnesota battled in the top of the seventh, behind a double by Brandt and a single by Ellee Jensen to put runners on the corners with one out. They were only able to score one run on a sacrifice fly by MaKenna Partain, before Gordon’s impressive diving stop at first base ended the game.
King improved to 3-0 on the season, scattering four hits over 7.0 innings with two runs and one earned. She walked three and recorded a season-high seven strikeouts. King finished with 132 pitches thrown, the second-most in her career and the most since she tossed 148 against Florida on May 4, 2016.
The 2018 ACC/Big Ten Softball Challenge continues on Saturday, February 17 with four games starting at 10:00 a.m. The Seminoles will take on Minnesota again at 3:00 p.m., before facing No. 20 Michigan at 5:30 p.m. Live stats for all games will be available on Seminoles.com and each Florida State game on the weekend will have a live radio broadcast on Shoutcast.com, with both games on Saturday airing live on ACC Network Extra.
Admission is free for all regular season home games at JoAnne Graf Field, with reserved premium seating behind home plate available through the Seminole Boosters. For more information on the premium seating, contact Alex Douglas at email@example.com.
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