Tuesday night in Oklahoma City was a historic night for the Florida State Seminoles as the softball team took home the title of National Champions for the first time ever in program history.
The Seminoles defeated the Washington Huskies 8-3 in Game Two of a best-of-three championship series after defeating the Huskies the night before at 1-0.
This is the Seminoles’ 11th appearance in the Women’s College World Series, and this was the first time the program had advanced to the championship final.
“Every time we come to this stage, we learn a lot,” Head Coach Lonni Alameda said. “We learned how to fight from the ACC Tournament and on, and I give credit to the team and to the girls. They’re the ones who made this happen.”
The Seminoles and the Huskies saw two very different paths to reach the championship series where Washington was able to sweep through the weekend defeating reigning national champions Oklahoma twice at 2-0 and 3-0, and the top-seeded Oregon Ducks at 6-2.
Florida State, however, fell in the opening game against UCLA at 7-4 immediately falling to the elimination bracket where every game was a chance to advance or go home.
The Seminoles powered their way through the elimination bracket to defeat Georgia 7-2 on Saturday followed by a 4-1 victory over Oregon. FSU came face-to-face with UCLA twice on Sunday defeating them 3-1 first and 12-6 later that night to find themselves secured in the championship series.
“Last year’s team was amazing, and we did everything right, but we forgot to celebrate the little things,” Alameda said. “This year we celebrated everything. We had a blast with it, and I’m so proud of the girls. I’m thankful for every lesson I learned from every team as we moved forward.”
The Seminoles faced trouble early when the Huskies put up three runs in the first inning of play. Starting pitcher for FSU, Meghan King, allowed three hits right off the bat, but she was able to retire the next 11 in response.
Facing a 3-0 deficit in the bottom of the first, FSU’s Anna Shelnutt answered with a bomb to center for a two-run home run. This was only the second home run allowed by Washington pitchers in the postseason. The first came from none other than Shelnutt herself the night before where she led the Seminoles to a 1-0 victory over the Huskies with her solo home run in the top of the sixth.
King was able to hold Washington off the board for the remainder of the game racking up four strikeouts, while FSU’s Elizabeth Mason and Jessie Warren were able to add home runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth.
Elizabeth Mason’s two-run home run came off of starting pitcher for the Huskies, Taran Alvelo, and Jessie Warren answered next at-bat with a solo home run off of Washington’s Gabbie Plain.
“I felt like I didn’t give my seniors the best chance to win that game,” Alvelo said. “I looked at Gabbie when she came in, and I told her to fight. She did just that.”
Alevelo allowed seven runs and seven hits, while Plain allowed one run and two hits.
“Things happen before they happen, and Taran got us here for the past three years,” Washington Head Coach Heather Tarr said. “How does she respond and come back next year? She’ll speak to that, and she’ll be great.”
The Seminoles entered the top of the seventh with an 8-3 lead and needing only three outs to claim a championship, but senior Jessie Warren said there’s not a secure feeling until the final out is called.
“This postseason, we really bought into the one-pitch mentality,” Warren said. “Although we had the 8-3 lead, we knew one pitch could change this game. Washington could still win this game, so we needed to focus on this one pitch being thrown and stay in it. The moment you let up on your momentum, it carries away.”
Meghan King agreed talking about the reminder to take a breath, step back and take in the environment as the game was coming to a close, and the national title was in reach.
“You have to look at each other and embrace the moment,” King said. “We had to slow the game down one breath at a time, and that really helped us.”
King was able to retire Washington batters in order, and a final out at 1st brought Florida State fans and players to their feet, and the stadium erupted with sounds of victory. The Seminoles defeated the Washington Huskies in two games with final scores of 1-0 and 8-3 to claim the 2018 NCAA National Championship.
Five Seminoles were named to the 2018 All-Tournament Team including RS freshman Elizabeth Mason, sophomore Anna Shelnutt, freshman Sydney Sherrill, RS junior Meghan King, and senior Jessie Warren.
Warren was also named Most Outstanding Player to accompany her team’s national title.
“It’s every senior’s dream to leave college with a major win,” Warren said. “That was one of our goals. I’m so proud of this team, and this university has done so much for me. I came into this program as a kid, and I’m leaving a strong woman. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”