The Daily Nole

FSU Softball: Seminoles Prove Worth, but Mistakes Too Costly in WCWS

Maury Neipris/FSU athletics

The ACC might not be elite like the SEC or the Pac-12 on the softball diamond, but there’s no doubt that conference’s champion can play with anyone.

Florida State’s 2016 season ended Sunday night with a heartbreaking 8-7 loss to Auburn on a close play at the plate in extra innings. The loss ended a 55-10 season for the Seminoles and a 2-2 showing at the Women’s College World Series — the best finish for FSU since 2002 when it also went 2-2 in Oklahoma City.

The Seminoles proved that they were more than capable of playing with the nation’s best during their four days in the Oklahoma capital, but when all was said and done, it was mistakes that would cost FSU the chance at winning its first fastpitch national championship.

The Women’s College World Series began on Thursday with FSU tying a WCWS record with seven errors in a 5-4 loss to Georgia. The seven miscues in the field allowed for Georgia to score four unearned runs, including the run in the top of the 7th that put the Bulldogs ahead for good.

On Sunday, it was again mistakes that might have stood in the way of FSU winning its way to a winner-take-all rematch with Auburn on Monday. The Seminoles committed three errors on Sunday night, but none was bigger than the 2-base error by left fielder Alex Kossoff that allowed Auburn’s Madi Gipson to advance to third on a single. Morgan Podany ran for Gipson and was called safe on a controversial play at the plate on a throw home from FSU third baseman Jessica Warren one batter later.

In FSU’s two losses in the Women’s College World Series, the Seminoles committed 10 total errors as opposed to none in the two wins. While it’s easy at this point to focus on all the little things that didn’t go Florida State’s way in Oklahoma City, it’s also important to keep in mind what exactly it accomplished.

Though fielding and fundamentals proved to be a weakness at the Women’s College World Series, toughness and resiliency proved to be strengths.

Facing elimination on Saturday afternoon, FSU was punched in the mouth early as UCLA jumped to a 4-0 lead on a grand slam by Mysha Sataraka before Florida State starting pitcher Meghan King could even record an out. Rather than roll over and pat themselves on the back for another successful season, the Seminoles fought back behind a stellar relief appearance by ACC Pitcher of the Year, Jessica Burroughs, and four RBIs by lead-off hitter Morgan Klaevemann. The result was an 8-4 victory that eliminated the 11-time national champion Bruins.

Earlier on Sunday, FSU faced a Michigan team that was seeded No. 2 nationally. The Wolverines forced eventual national champion Florida to a decisive game in last year’s championship series and was the highest seed remaining in Oklahoma City.

Burroughs was again stellar for the Seminoles in a complete-game shutout. Klaevemann scored FSU’s only run on a passed ball in the third as the Seminoles eliminated the Wolverines, 1-0.

Even in defeat on Sunday night, the Seminoles fought valiantly. FSU overcame a pair of multiple run deficits to force extra innings.

Florida State trailed 3-1 after an inning and 7-4 after six, but wasn’t ready for its season to be over. Down to its final three outs, shortstop Cali Harrod extended the season with a 3-run home run in the top of the 7th. Unfortunately for FSU, it couldn’t take advantage of a bases loaded situation later in the inning or get Sydney Broderick home from second an inning later, but the fight it showed in defeat was nevertheless, something to be applauded.

While fans and players alike were sad to see head coach Lonni Alameda’s most successful season at Florida State come to an end, there is plenty of reason to believe the college softball world hasn’t seen the last of FSU.

The Seminoles will be losing only three seniors and return Burroughs, home run and RBI leader Jessica Warren and ACC Player of the Year, Alex Powers. FSU also brings back four other All-ACC selections in Klaevemann, King, second baseman Ellie Cooper and outfielder Carsyn Gordon. There’s no doubt that the 2016 season was something all Seminole fans can be proud of, but 2017 could be even bigger.

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