Seminoles start fast, hold off Crimson Tide to secure spot in Championship Series with 8-5 victory

Elizabeth Mason celebrates after hitting a three-run home run in an elimination game against...
Elizabeth Mason celebrates after hitting a three-run home run in an elimination game against Alabama at the 201 Women's College World Series.(Florida State Athletics)
Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 9:51 PM EDT
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (WCTV) - The Florida State Seminoles have punched their ticket to the Women’s College World Series Championship Series after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide for a second-straight day, 8-5, Monday night in Oklahoma City.

Florida State has now won eight consecutive elimination games at the WCWS, dating back to the 2018 World Series.

Florida State wasted no time jumping on Alabama ace Montana Fouts (L, 27-4), using a patient approach at the plate to score three runs in the top of the first inning after just the first three batters of the game.

Kaley Mudge knocked a leadoff single into center field and Sydney Sherrill walked, the first free pass issued by Fouts in the Women’s College World Series, to set the table for Elizabeth Mason, who blasted a three-run home run to put the Seminoles on top, 3-0.

Fouts settled down after that, retiring the next three batters to end the inning, but FSU came right back in the top of the second to add to their lead.

Josie Muffley led the inning off with a walk and moved to third on a throwing error by Crimson Tide third basewoman Maddie Morgan, who was trying to throw to Savannah Woodard to start a double play, but Woodard wasn’t yet at the bag and the throw went into the outfield, putting runners at the corners for the Noles.

Fouts recorded one out after the error but couldn’t retire Mudge, who reached on a bunt single to bring Muffley home and make it a 4-0 game.

The Seminoles seemed to break the game open in the top of the third inning, plating four more runs on five hits and chasing Fouts from the game.

Devyn Flaherty led the frame off with an infield single and Dani Morgan followed with a single of her own before the pair were singled over to third and second, respectively, to set the table for a two-run Kalei Harding single, making it a 6-0 Seminole lead.

Harding’s single spelled the end of the night for Fouts, who made her shortest WCWS start, allowing seven runs (six earned), walking three and striking out five.

FSU made Fouts throw 72 pitches in just 2.2 innings of work.

Sunday’s starter Lexi Kilfoyl came into the game for Alabama in relief of Fouts but surrendered back-to-back RBI hits to Mudge and Sherrill to extend the FSU lead to 8-0.

The Crimson Tide came back in the bottom of the third to score their first runs of the game. After a lineout to open the inning off the bat of Morgan, Taylor Clark and Elissa Brown hit back-to-back one-out singles and scored on consecutive RBI singles from Bailey Hemphill and Kaylee Tow, making it an 8-2 game.

After retiring the first seven straight batters she faced, FSU starter Kathryn Sandercock allowed five of the next eight hitters she faced to reach base and was taken out after a leadoff double to KB Sides in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Caylan Arnold replaced Sandercock in the inning and retired the first three hitters she faced in order, stranding Sides at second and solidifying Sandercock’s night: She allowed just the two third-inning runs on five hits and struck out two in just over three innings of work.

Arnold’s night didn’t last long, either, as she ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Elissa Brown led the inning off with a single to set the table for SEC Player of the Year Bailey Hemphill, who crushed a two-run home run to left field to cut the FSU lead in half, at 8-4.

Arnold was lifted for Danielle Watson following Hemphill’s home run, who induced a groundout on the first batter she faced but issued a four-pitch, two-out walk to Jenna Johnson, who came into score on an RBI single from Savannah Woodard, making for an 8-5 game.

On Woodard’s hit, the Seminoles made a great defensive play to allow just one run to score: Morgan didn’t throw home, but threw to Mason, covering in the circle, who in turn went to Sherrill at third to tag KB Sides, who set the table for Woodard with a single of her own, ending the inning.

That was the last run the Tide scored on the evening, as Watson retired the final six hitters she faced in order, inducing two flyouts and a lineout in the top of the seventh to seal the win.

Mudge made WCWS history, going 5-for-5 for just the fourth time in the tournament and the first time since 2009.

FSU will now face the top-seeded Oklahoma Sooners, who also emerged from the losers bracket, in the best-of-three WCWS Championship Series. First pitch is set for Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

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