FSU exacts revenge on LSU, advances to Women’s College World Series

Never out of the fight.

That’s been the Florida State softball mentality all season long and is a personal saying of head coach Lonni Alameda’s.

The Seminoles have shown that numerous times this season with comebacks and walk-offs galore.

Never has it been more evident, though, than on Saturday when the No. 6 Seminoles (52-11) completed their rally in the Tallahassee Super Regional to defeat No. 11 LSU (45-17) 3-1 in the nightcap rubber match and advance to their third Women’s College World Series in the last five years.

FSU entered the day facing a 1-0 deficit in the series and needing to take both of Saturday’s games to advance.

After an emotional extra-innings win to force the winner-take-all third game against the Tigers, FSU never trailed the final game, riding a strong start from senior pitcher Kylee Hanson and a two-run homer from Jessie Warren to the win.

“To have literally all 22 players in every pitch, talking the whole time. It was such an amazing feeling in the dugout,” Alameda said.

“It was just like we’re not going to let this go, we’re going to fight every single pitch.”

The Seminoles needed just two hits to bring in their three runs in a game that took just an hour and 43 minutes after the first game took nearly five hours with its early rain delay.

The comeback completes an exact reversal of what the Tigers did in last year’s Tallahassee Super Regional when they won the final two games after dropping the opener to advance to the WCWS.

“We set the tone in the locker room before we even came out,” Warren said.

“The girls stuck to it. I’m just so proud of every single one of the girls on this team for what they have done today.”

LSU coach Beth Torina was proud of her team’s performance as well. It was a grueling, long day for both teams.

On Friday, the NCAA made a decision to play a second game if needed Saturday night due to the threat of Subtropical Storm Alberto. The storm is expected to bring heavy rains and possible flooding to Florida and much of the Southeast in the coming days, according to the National Weather Service. 

“I’m really proud of my team. I’m really proud of the way they fought,” Torina said.

“I think a couple of missed opportunities in the first game today, game two of the series cost us. I think a couple of things we could’ve done better there and we had an opportunity to win that game. I’m upset because we lost but I’m not upset because we lost. 

“It was a tough day for both teams. I don’t know if you can say that that was a factor because I think both teams are in the same situation. Both teams had a pitcher that was ready to go and that was talented for game three. Both teams were in the same situation so I don’t know if it was that big of a factor.”

On the Hill

Hanson entered Saturday’s rubber match looking to redeem herself after she was chased in Friday’s Super Regional opener in the fifth inning.

She did exactly that, outdueling LSU starter Allie Walljasper, who she also battled against Friday.

LSU didn’t get its first runner into scoring position until the fifth inning and that proved to be the only time it would happen.

“It was awesome,” Hanson said of her redemptive start.

“I knew that going into today it was going to be huge and obviously I wanted to be able to get that opportunity to pitch again just to prove myself.”

Hanson threw a complete seven innings and allowed one run on five hits, striking out four and walking one.

She had the honor of recording the final out, a grounder she tossed to FSU first baseman Carsyn Gordon to close the game out and advance to her first WCWS.

“For so long I’ve watched those final outs and always wanted to be there,” Hanson said.

“To have that moment today, even if it was like a bobbled ball, it was still incredible.”

“The feeling is surreal and I can’t describe it.”

Position Player of the Game

What more can be said about Jessie Warren?

The Florida State slugger almost singlehandedly willed the Seminoles to their come-from-behind series win in her final home series at JoAnne Graf Field.

“Her first at-bat set the tone today and she knew that, she loved that, she was excited about that,” Alameda said.

“We haven’t seen that all year as a coaching staff and we knew that was in her. She really took it by the horns today and got after it.”

Warren’s two-run homer in Saturday’s finale gave FSU a 2-0 lead in the third inning.

It was her third of the weekend in as many games against the Tigers in the Super Regional.

Warren finished the series with three hits — all homers — and nine RBI.

“I knew it was going to be my last time playing here,” Warren said, fighting off tears.

“It meant a lot to just go out with a bang.”

Across her storied career at FSU, Warren holds school and conference career records in home runs (81) and RBI (269). Those marks are both 10th in NCAA history as well.

With her homer, Warren also tied the school record with her 223rd career run scored.

Scoring Recap

For the first time this weekend, the Seminoles struck first blood on Warren’s two-run homer to left in the third inning off Walljasper.

FSU added one more in the third on Anna Shelnutt’s sacrifice fly after a double from Sydney Sherrill.

LSU truly threatened for the first time in the fifth by putting runners on second and third with one out, but Hanson escaped with one run scoring thanks to a pair of groundouts.

Torinia credited Hanson’s performance.

“She was better today,” Tornia said. “I mean there’s a lot of reason why. I’m sure she wanted to be better today to answer back from yesterday, but different strike zone, different situation. There’s a lot of factors to it but she was definitely better today.”

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Quotable

“That was one of my goals before the season started was to get back to OKC. I’m literally speechless and have no words for the feeling that I have right now, to be able to go back and finish my career in Oklahoma City.”

— Warren on getting to close out her career in the WCWS

Up Next

With the win, the Seminoles are into their 10th College World Series in program history.

It’s the third for Alameda, all of which have come since 2014 and is a testament to the program she has rebuilt in Tallahassee.

FSU’s WCWS opener will be against third-seeded UCLA (56-5) in Oklahoma City next Thursday at 9:30 p.m.

 

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