The Daily Nole

FSU 2017-18 Athletic Year in Review: Multiple Programs Reach New Heights

Maury Neipris/FSU athletics

The 2017-18 athletic year concluded over the weekend as both the Florida State men’s and women’s track and field teams notched top-15 finishes.

Save football, which finished a disappointing 7-6 after beginning the season ranked No. 3, it was a solid season for FSU athletics as a whole. Not a single FSU program finished with a losing record and several reached heights.

FSU Softball Claims First National Championship
The most notable of course, was Florida State softball, which became the first team to come from the loser’s bracket in the Women’s College World Series and win the national championship in 13 years. The Seminoles clinched their first crown last week with a 2-game sweep of Washington in the best-of-three championship series in Oklahoma City.

The title run for FSU couldn’t have been more unlikely. After sweeping through the Tallahassee Regional with the help of a walk-off inside-the-park home run from Carsyn Gordon to defeat Auburn, FSU dropped the opener of the best-of-three Tallahassee Super Regional to LSU.

With Tropical Storm Alberto headed for Tallahassee, the Seminoles were forced to win two games the following day against the Tigers, but did just that. FSU needed 11 innings to win the first game on May 26 by an 8-5 score thanks to extra-inning home runs by Gordon and Anna Shelnutt. FSU clinched a spot in Oklahoma City with a 3-1 win in the following contest, fueled by a 2-run home run by ACC Player of the Year, Jessie Warren and a gem from ACC Pitcher of the Year, Kylee Hanson.

After blowing a 4-run lead to open the Women’s College World Series against UCLA, the Seminoles proceeded to win four games in two days to reach the final series. After topping Georgia and Oregon in elimination games on June 2, FSU beat UCLA twice the next day to advance.

The first victory was the most dramatic as Elizabeth Mason came through with a 3-run home run in the sixth inning in a 3-1 win. Cali Harrod, Warren, Gordon and ACC Freshman of the Year, Sydney Sherrill, all homered in the nightcap — a 12-6 victory over the Bruins.

Throughout the Women’s College World Series, junior lefty Meghan King was untouchable from the circle. King threw four complete games while boasting a WCWS-record 0.21 ERA.

Warren, the third baseman, provided some help with the bat as well as the glove. Her diving catch in the first game of the championship series against Washington helped put the exclamation point on a 1-0 victory. Shelnutt’s solo home run accounted for all the offense in that one. She, Mason and Warren all homered the following night in an 8-3 championship-clinching victory.

New Heights
FSU softball may have come away victorious in its first trip to the national championship series, but that group of Seminoles wasn’t the only one to visit uncharted waters. FSU women’s tennis reached the Elite Eight this past season for the first time before falling to eventual national runner-up Vanderbilt.

The highlight of the NCAA Tournament run by the Seminoles was the second-round upset of rival Florida in Gainesville. FSU trailed 3-1 before Gabriella Castaneda, Nandini Das and Andrea Garcia all won singles matches, including the latter two in three sets, to advance past the rival Gators, 4-3.

FSU women’s tennis’ second-round upset at Florida paved way for the deepest NCAA Tournament run in program history. (Fred Wilson/FSU athletics)

Castaneda and Ariana Rahmanparast won on the final two singles courts in three sets to give the Seminoles another improbable win over Tulsa in the Sweet 16 contest on May 17.

FSU beach volleyball reached the national championship dual for the second time in three years since the sport has been recognized by the NCAA. The Seminoles got there with wins over defending national champion USC, UCLA and Hawaii.

The Seminoles had been to the championship dual before, but never from the winner’s bracket. Unfortunately for FSU, the double-elimination format went out the window when it came to the national championship. UCLA needed to beat the Seminoles just once to claim the title and did so with a 3-1 win. The 33 wins this season for FSU was a school-record.

Notable Accomplishments
FSU’s men’s tennis also set a new program record for wins with 28. The Seminoles were upset at home by Alabama in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

It wasn’t a first time for FSU basketball, but the Seminoles advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in 25 years this past season. Florida State earned a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament before upsetting Missouri, Xavier and Gonzaga.

The upset in the second round over the Musketeers was the first ever for FSU over a No. 1 seed. The Seminoles ultimately fell to Michigan in the regional final, 58-54, but got there for the first time under head coach Leonard Hamilton and the first time as a program since 1993.

FSU baseball coach Mike Martin surpassed Augie Garrido as the winningest coach in the history of the sport with a 3-2 win at Clemson on May 5. (Ken Lanese/FSU athletics)

FSU head baseball coach Mike Martin became immortalized during the 2018 season, but Martin would be the first to say that it was a team accomplishment. With a thrilling 3-2 victory at Clemson in 13 innings on May 5, Martin surpassed Augie Garrido as the winningest coach in college baseball history with 1,976. By the time the season was over, he would add 11 more.

Six Conference Titles
With 20 athletic programs, Florida State watched 30 percent or six of them earn the title of “conference champions”. FSU beach volleyball cruised to that distinction with five straight victories in the CCSA Tournament. LSU, which lost 4-1, was the closest any team came to touching the Seminoles.

When it came to the diamond, there was a little more drama for Florida State to claim the ACC crown, but both the baseball and softball programs did just that. FSU baseball went a perfect 4-0 in Durham to become the first team since Wake Forest in 1998 and 1999 to claim consecutive ACC Tournament titles.

Three of those four victories for FSU were won in its last at-bat. The exception was a 5-2 win over NC State to conclude pool play as lefty Drew Parrish tossed a complete game in the victory.

FSU opened the ACC Tournament with a 3-2 win over Virginia on a walk-off double by Reese Albert in the 11th inning. In a 5-4 win over Clemson in the ACC semifinals, Rhett Aplin put the Seminoles ahead with an RBI single in the ninth inning. Drew Mendoza was the hero in the ACC Championship as he came through with a 2-run double in the 10th inning against Louisville to break the tie in an 11-8 victory for the Seminoles.

FSU softball won a fifth straight ACC title despite trailing 4-0 to Pittsburgh in the sixth inning of the title game. With the score cut to 4-2 and the Seminoles down to their final out, Shelnutt took the first pitch from Kayla Harris over the left field wall for a walk-off 3-run home run.

On the track and field circuit, both Florida State’s men’s and women’s team claimed ACC indoor championships, marking the first time since 2014 that either program claimed that honor. The men were able to duplicate that feat during the outdoor season as well — their first ACC outdoor title since 2015.

Other Notable Streaks
While the 7-6 finish was disappointing for Florida State on the football field, it should be noted that the Seminoles were able to extend the nation’s longest bowl streak to a record 36 straight. FSU also clinched a 41st straight winning season. Every other FSU athletic program reached the NCAA Tournament.

FSU baseball clinched a 41st straight 40-win season in 2018, finishing 43-19. The Seminoles were swept out of the Tallahassee Regional, but still managed to keep one of college baseball’s most remarkable streaks alive.

FSU women’s hoops’ season under head coach Sue Semrau ended with a disappointing 86-65 upset loss to Buffalo in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Still, they managed to reach the NCAA Tournament for a sixth straight year and a 13th time in 14 years.

FSU soccer reached the NCAA Tournament for an 18th straight year. Florida State reached the Sweet 16 for the 15th time in 18 years where it was defeated by eventual national champion Stanford, 1-0.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

One Comment

  1. finance85

    June 13, 2018 at 8:40 am

    Thanks for a great article.

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