No. 3 FSU Florida State Seminoles softball outlasts Louisville Cardinals in marathon game
No. 3 Florida State (46-8, 21-2 ACC) defeated Louisville (35-16, 16-6 ACC) at the Seminole Softball Complex by a 6-4 score in 11 innings to clinch the series.
Ali Dubois started in the circle for Florida State. Louisville got off to a strong start in the first inning. Korbe Otis singled through the left side. She then stole second. Easton Lotus singled moving Otis over to third. Lotus then attempted to steal second trying to get into a pickle to let Otis score from third. This tactic worked as Otis scored but FSU managed to throw out Lotus. Dubois ended the inning with a flyout and a strikeout.
Alyssa Zabala was the starter for the Cards. Kaley Mudge worked a walk to start the bottom of the first. Zabala responded by coaxing a pair of fielder’s choices. The inning ended when Ally Alexander made a nice play at third on a Michaela Edenfield liner.
Daisy Hess reached on an error from Krystina Hartley at third. Hannah File reached on a fielder’s choice. Alexander singled to left and UL had runners on first and second. Madison Winkler flied out. Both runners advanced to scoring position on a wild pitch. Maddi Grant then singled to left scoring both runners and chasing Dubois.
Makenna Reid came in to relieve Dubois. Reid got Otis to ground out to first to end the inning but the Cardinals had a 3-0 lead.
In the bottom half of the inning Devyn Flaherty hit a two out double down the left field line but she was stranded when Zabala ended the inning with a strikeout.
In the top of the third Taylor Roby hit a towering blast over the centerfield wall to extend the UL lead to 4-0.
In the bottom half of the inning Josie Muffley reached on an error. Jahni Kerr doubled to left centerfield to drive in Muffley for the first Seminole run.
Reid retired the Cards in order in the fourth. Zabala did the same to FSU in the bottom half of the inning.
Reid kept rolling in the fifth setting Louisville down 1-2-3. Zabala matched her in the bottom of the fifth with three straight outs.
Mack Leonard came in for Reid in the sixth and promptly set the Cards down in order. In the bottom half of the inning Kerr struck again doubling to left centerfield. Kalei Harding reached on an error by Lotus at second. Kerr scored on the play.
Cardinal coach Holly Aprile replaced Zabala in the circle with Taylor Roby. Edenfield singled to left center advancing Harding to second. Leonard reached on a fielder’s choice advancing Harding to third. Autumn Belviy pinch ran for Leonard and stole second without a throw. Hallie Wacaser delivered a clutch single scoring Harding and Belviy to tie the game at four.
Mack Leonard continued her stellar pitching in the seventh striking out the side.
Katie Dack singled up the middle in the bottom half of the seventh but she was stranded and the game went to extras.
Leonard allowed a single and a walk in the eighth but she managed to pitch around the trouble and got out of the inning without surrendering a run. Harding started the bottom half off with a single but was later erased on an inning ending double play. On to the ninth.
Leonard got the first two outs but then walked Alexander. Head coach Lonni Alameda came out and replaced Leonard with Kat Sandercock. The Seminole ace needed only one pitch to end the inning with a pop out to second.
Roby continued to cruise for the Cards working around a walk to Bethany Keen to set the Noles down.
Sandercock set the Cards down in order in the top of the tenth. Mudge and Harding singled for the Noles in the bottom of the tenth. FSU had runners on first and second with one out but Roby beared down and retired Edenfield and Leonard to escape the inning unscathed.
Sandercock retired Louisville in order in the top of the eleventh. In the bottom half Wacaser drew a walk and then Flaherty came up and did this:
Flaherty’s blast gave the Noles a dramatic come from behind 6-4 walk-off victory.
Devyn Flaherty was 2-5 with with a home run, a double, 2 RBI and a run scored. Jahni Kerr and Kalei Harding were both 2-5 with an RBI and a run scored.
Louisville is a quality team. They have good pitching, dangerous hitters and can flash the leather. The Cards are the surprise team this year in the ACC and their success is well deserved. They could have easily won either or both of these first two games. However, they didn’t. And that brings me to Florida State.
It is tough to know exactly what to say about this team that would encapsulate everything. The Seminoles are now on a 12 game winning streak and have won 21 of their last 22 games. They have won in short run rule games, in come from behind fashion and in marathon games. They have won blowout games and close nail-biters. They have won with pitching and with clutch hitting. They make mistakes but they manage to overcome them.
It has been a team effort. You never know who is going to step up. Reid and Sandercock (earned the win) were great today going 5 2⁄3 combined and giving up only one run. But you expect that from them. However, Leonard pitched as good in the circle today as I have seen her in a long time. She went 3 2⁄3 giving up only one hit and no runs while striking out the side in the pressure filled seventh. Dubois had a rough outing but the staff as a whole was great today.
At the plate it took the bats a little while to get going but they eventually delivered. Kerr was her usual dynamic self. Harding came through with a couple of hits and hit the ball directly at people for outs a couple of other times. She can take this team to another level if she gets hot. Nevertheless, everyone on this team is a threat. Flaherty proved that by connecting on her first home run of the season in a huge spot. This team never believes that they are out of it and that confidence is evident in these types of moments.
The NCAA tournament is a crapshoot. As we saw last year anything can happen. However, Florida State has another elite team. The Seminoles are playing well enough to make a deep postseason run. If only the softball goddesses will cooperate.
Florida State will finish the three game set with Louisville tomorrow at noon at the Seminole Softball Complex.