Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – The Cardiac Kids have made Florida State history.
After so many close calls, they did it in a way that caused minimal cardiac issues for FSU fans.
With its runaway 8-3 win over fifth-seeded Washington Tuesday night, the No. 6 FSU softball team (58-12) completed a sweep of the Huskies to bring home the program’s first NCAA Championship in its first appearance in the Women’s College World Series Finals.
Through its first nine NCAA Tournament games, including Monday’s 1-0 FSU win, UW had allowed eight total runs.
With a crowd of 8,123 watching at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium, FSU matched that over the first four innings of Tuesday’s win.
The Seminoles quickly turned an early deficit into a lead behind an explosive attack at the plate, hitting three homers and five extra-base hits.
Entering this year, FSU’s nine WCWS appearances were the most by any team without a national championship.
The 10th time proved to be the charm.
Not only is it the Seminoles’ first title, it’s the first NCAA Softball championship team for any team from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The softball team brings FSU its eighth NCAA Team Title across all sports, its first since 2014.
The Seminoles are the fifth team in the fourth sport to win an NCAA Team Championship in program history, joining football (1993, 1999, 2013), men’s track and field (2006, 2007 (forfeited), 2008, all outdoor), women’s track and field (1984 indoor, 1985 outdoor) and women’s soccer (2014).
Against the Wall
Much speculation was made after FSU’s 1-0 win in the WCWS Finals about how this team that has thrived in must-win situations would perform in a non-elimination game.
FSU’s six wins in elimination games in this year’s NCAA Tournament tied the record for the most in a single year.
Tuesday’s game against UW was just FSU’s second in the last nine games where the Seminoles were not facing elimination.
That idea shifted quickly when the Huskies opened up a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
Back in familiar territory, the Seminoles wasted little time doing what they do and overcoming adversity.
The next inning, the Seminoles staked themselves to a 5-3 lead on right fielder Elizabeth Mason’s two-run single to right followed by an RBI single to left by Jessie Warren.
FSU added three more on back-to-back homers from Elizabeth Mason and Jessie Warren to make it 8-3 through four innings and the rout was on.
On the Hill
Eyebrows were raised when FSU head coach Lonni Alameda elected to ride the hot hand and start redshirt junior Meghan King once again on Tuesday.
Yes, King (26-6) threw a five-hit shutout against the Huskies the previous day, but they had just seen her and she was viewed as the likely pitcher in the winner-take-all game Wednesday.
Although it didn’t seem like it at first, the gamble paid off.
After a rocky start in which her defense hindered her substantially, King settled in.
She finishes her ridiculous WCWS run having allowed one earned run over 34.1 innings of work — a 0.20 earned run average, the lowest ERA in a WCWS in NCAA history.
While King dealt, FSU tagged UW starter Taran Alvelo (23-5) for a season-high seven runs, six earned, on seven hits over 3.2 innings of work, bumping her ERA up 20 points from 1.10 to 1.30.
Position Player of the Game
Instead of highlighting a single player here, it’s worth mentioning the season that became a historic one offensively for the Seminoles in a number of categories.
In large part thanks to that late charge, FSU set new program records for most doubles (115) and home runs (76) in a single season.
Freshman second baseman Sydney Sherrill tied the NCAA record for most doubles in a single season with her 29th double in the fourth inning Tuesday.
Warren leaves FSU in the NCAA all-time top ten in home runs (83, tied for eighth) and RBI (273, eighth) and matched the NCAA record with 13 hits in a single WCWS after her 3 for 4 performance in Tuesday’s clinching win.
Although it seems weird to be looking ahead to next season immediately after a program’s first-ever national title, but it bears mention.
The loss of Warren cannot be overstated in importance and FSU also loses pitcher Kylee Hanson and outfielders Morgan Klaevemann and Korina Rosario.
In spite of these losses, FSU brings back King for her senior season and seven of the nine regular members of the batting order.
As such, it’s not ridiculous in the least to say that FSU could be back in a similar situation next year.