The Daily Nole

FSU Softball: Noles Look to Make Noise in WCWS

Maury Neipris/FSU athletics

For the second time in three years and the ninth time ever, Florida State has earned itself a place in the Women’s College World Series.

To this point, FSU is 5-0 in the NCAA Tournament. After sweeping through the Tallahassee Regional, the No. 8 nationally-seeded Seminoles beat Utah twice in the Super Regional to earn a spot in Oklahoma City.

The offense led by ACC Player of the Year, Alex Powers has been prolific while the Seminoles have two very capable arms in the circle in Jessica Burroughs and Meghan King. Third baseman Jessica Warren has been arguably FSU’s best player during the NCAA Tournament while center fielder Morgan Klaevemann is very good at setting the table at the top of the order.

Florida State lasted just two games during its last trip to the Women’s College World Series, losing to Oregon and Baylor, but will hope for better results this time. The Seminoles are 53-8 this season. FSU will begin the quest for its first fast-pitch national championship on Thursday against Georgia.

The Bulldogs reached the Women’s College World Series by doing the unthinkable — taking down 2-time defending national champion Florida. Georgia is one of the final eight teams standing for the first time since 2010, thanks to a walk-off 2-run home run by Kaylee Puialoa on Friday, which gave the Bulldogs a 3-2 win and the 2-0 Super Regional sweep of Florida.

Courtni and Syndi Emanuel have been the top two hitters for the No. 16 Bulldogs this season, batting .423 and .452 respectively. Tina Iosefa has supplied the power with a nation-leading 23 home runs and 86 RBIs.

In the circle, Chelsea Wilkinson has been Georgia’s most used starter. She boasts a 27-7 record and a 1.84 ERA on the season.

Also on Florida State’s side of the bracket are No. 4 national seed Auburn and 12th-seeded UCLA. After sweeping through the Auburn Regional, the Tigers defeated Arizona in three games in the Super Regional. UCLA needed three games to down No. 5 Oregon after going a perfect 3-0 in regional play. Both the Tigers and Bruins are in the WCWS for a second straight season.

UCLA has more national championships than any other school with 11 and comes in with a 40-14-1 record. Leadoff hitter Allexis Bennett leads the Bruins with a .412 average, 57 runs scored and 12 stolen bases. Delaney Spaulding has provided the pop with 17 home runs and 61 RBIs. Selena Ta’amilo is the Bruins’ top pitcher with a 19-5 record and 3.39 ERA.

Junior Kasey Cooper has propelled the Auburn offense this year, leading the team with a .425 batting average, 19 home runs and 76 RBIs. Jade Rhodes has 17 home runs and 66 RBIs for the Tigers while Emily Carosone is hitting .405 and leads the team with 70 runs scored. Kaylee Carson leads Auburn with 17 wins from the circle, while posting a 2.11 ERA.

On the other side of the bracket is second-seeded Michigan, third-seeded Oklahoma, No. 6 Alabama and 10th-seeded LSU.

For Florida State, it’ll look to collect its first WCWS win since defeating Washington in an elimination game in 2004. FSU’s best-ever finish in the Women’s College World Series was third in 1990 and 2002. Florida State did win slow pitch national championships in 1981 and 1982.

The Seminoles are the fifth highest seed remaining and the second highest on their side of the bracket, behind Auburn. FSU went 2-3 during the regular season against teams to reach the Women’s College World Series. The Seminoles dropped a pair of games to Michigan, beat UCLA and split a 2-game set with Auburn.

First pitch between the Bulldogs and Seminoles on Thursday is slated for noon EST. The contest will air on ESPN.

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