TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – There will be no sulking in Florida State’s bowl of Cheerio’s.
So said coach Lonni Alameda after the FSU softball team’s 1-0 loss to LSU in Game 2 of the NCAA Tallahassee Super Regional, a game in which the Seminoles were never more than a swing away from the tying run but also never looked quite like themselves at the plate.
Game 3 is set for Sunday at 1 p.m., with the winner advancing to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
“This is exactly what we’ve trained for,” Alameda said. “There’s no reason to be upset about it. It’s not about wins and losses. It’s about how you play the game. We were present and we were getting after it and we want to be that way again tomorrow.”
Maybe that’s why, as they made their way to their press conference podium, the Seminoles hardly had the look of a team that had just been held to only one hit during the entire game.
Or, for that matter, had lost on their home field for the first time since May 7, 2016. (Never mind that, technically, the Tigers were the home team on Saturday.)
With one of the best foundations of seniors in school history and a nucleus of talented youngsters behind them, the Seminoles believe that they’re built to handle this type of adversity.
So much so that that they might not even call what they’re facing “adversity.”
To them, this is the fun part.
“I know everyone is like, ‘Oh, you lost,’ but it’s fun to be in tight ball games,’” Alameda said. “It’s fun to be the person at the plate – you just can’t (focus on) the outcome. You’ve got to keep working for it.”
A quick glance at the scenario suggest a few things working in FSU’s favor.
For one, the Seminoles rarely lose consecutive games. They’ve done it just three times all season, once while playing back-to-back at No. 3 Florida and at South Carolina, and then again as part of a three-game skid at No. 5 Oregon earlier this month.
FSU is also confident that, after two games, it has a better idea of how to solve LSU pitchers Carley Hoover and Allie Walljasper.
Which is good, since the Seminoles could see both on Sunday.
“We didn’t collectively stick to the plan in the beginning of the game,” said third baseman Jessie Warren, who was held without a hit for the first time in six games. “I think if we come out and do that tomorrow, we’ll have a better game.”
Finally, the Seminoles have the belief that comes from a season’s worth of results – from lengthy win streaks to conference titles to a slew of individual accolades – that show their process works just fine.
What they’ve done has gotten them this far. It can get them one more win, too.
“I don’t think, as a group, that we think there’s anything different for tomorrow,” Alameda said. “All season long, we’ve been doing what we do. We’ve rebounded from these kinds of games quite well, so I’m pretty excited about that.”
Then again, so are the Tigers.
Their record isn’t as impressive as FSU’s, but it’s hard to question their resolve. LSU fought its way out of the loser’s bracket in last week’s NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, and just last year rallied from a Game 1 loss in the Super Regional and won two straight on the way to a berth in the WCWS.
In Oklahoma City, the Tigers dropped their first game then rallied to win two straight and reach the tournament’s semifinal.
That path might sound familiar: It’s exactly what FSU did during its WCWS run a year ago, too.
“If we have outs left, we have games left,” LSU’s Walljasper said. “We’ve always played like this the entire year. Being in this position isn’t something new for us.”
So then it comes down to one game between two confident teams to decide one spot in the Women’s College World Series.
Maybe Alameda is right after all.
This really is the fun part.