TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Runs were at a premium again at JoAnne Graf Field on Saturday afternoon as No. 7-ranked (50-8) scored two runs each in the sixth and seventh innings to earn a 4-0 win over South Carolina (37-22) in the second round of the NCAA Tallahassee Regional. The Noles won their 50th game of the season on Saturday and eclipsed the 50-win mark for the second time in the last three seasons and the 17th time in program history.
The Seminoles moved on to Sunday’s regional championship game and are one victory away from their fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Super Regionals. FSU has recorded three consecutive shutouts in NCAA Regional play and have outscored its opponents by a score of 27-4 in its last eight games of the NCAA Regional round, dating back to 2013.
“It was a hard-fought ballgame, and this time of year, that’s what it is about,” said FSU head coach Lonni Alameda. “I think (South Carolina’s) Nickie (Blue) threw a really good game. We had a really good game plan against her. And that’s regional play for you, and I’m really excited that we came out on the winning side of it. Kudos to them and we were a different team from last night to today. Really excited about the growth we made over a couple of hours.”
FSU’s Meghan King and South Carolina’s Nickie Blue began an impressive pitcher’s duel, limiting each offense through the early going.
The Seminoles got runners to third base in the first and third innings, but were unable to bring either of them in. Morgan Klaevemann led off the game with a single to left, stole second and moved up to third on a ground out, while Cali Harrod singled in the third, stole second and moved to third on an SC throwing error. Each would be left on base as the game remained tied at 0-0.
South Carolina threatened in the fourth inning, loading the bases on a one-out triple by Ansley Ard and a pair of two-outs walks to Kenzi Maguire and Jordan Bizzell. King got the Noles out of the jam by inducing a pop out by Taylor Williams to Alex Powers down the right field line.
FSU put a pair of runners on in the fifth inning on a one-out hit-by-pitch by Jasmine Palmer and a walk from Harrod. Both would be left stranded after a strikeout and a fly out.
The Gamecocks put runners on the corners with nobody out in the fifth inning on a pair of singles from Alaynie Page and Kennedy Clark. Jessica Burroughs entered the game in relief of King, and recorded a strikeout to her first batter.
SC’s Krystan White bunted a ball down the first base line that started foul and began to roll fair. As Powers started to field the ball, White collided with her and was ruled out for runner’s interference and the baserunners went back to their original positions. Burroughs capped off the inning with another strikeout to keep the game deadlocked at 0-0.
The Seminole offense finally broke through against Blue in the sixth inning as Warren led off the inning with a double to the wall in left. Sydney Broderick followed with a walk and both runners moved into scoring position as Zoe Casas flied out to center for the second out of the inning.
Freshman Carsyn Gordon gave the Noles a 2-0 lead, driving the first pitch of her at-bat back up the middle for a two-RBI single to give the Noles a 2-0 lead.
FSU added a pair of runs in the seventh inning on a trio of two-out doubles. Ellie Cooper roped an extra-base hit into the right field corner and Warren drove her in with a double to right field. Powers hit her 12th double of the season over the head of the South Carolina left fielder to push the FSU lead to 4-0.
Burroughs closed out the game with a scoreless seventh to improve to 26-5 on the season. The redshirt junior earned the win with 3.0 innings of relief, retiring nine of the 10 batters she faced, allowing just one hit with zero walks and three strikeouts.
King scattered five hits in her 4.0 inning start, allowing three walks and striking out one in the no-decision.
Blue (19-13) pitched 6.2 innings in the loss as SC’s Jessica Elliott faced just one batter in the seventh. Blue gave up four runs on eight hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in the loss.
The Seminoles will play for a spot in the NCAA Super Regionals at 12:00 p.m. If Florida State loses that game, they will play again at 2:30 p.m.
All games on Sunday will be broadcast on ESPN3 with Melissa Lee and Leigh Ross on the call. Robin Ahrberg will also bring you all the action on Seminole Softball Radio on Seminoles.com.
Tickets are on sale for Sunday’s game and are priced at $7 for adults and $5 for youth and seniors. Tickets can be ordered either on Seminoles.com, by calling 1-888-FSU-NOLE or by walking up to the ticket office at the Seminole Softball Complex on Spirit Way.
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.