Watson’s no-hitter helps FSU defeat Howard 8-0 in NCAA Tournament opener

A Florida State Seminoles batting helmet rests in the dugout of JoAnne Graf Field
A Florida State Seminoles batting helmet rests in the dugout of JoAnne Graf Field(Bret Clein | Florida State Athletics)
Published: May. 21, 2022 at 2:23 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Noles247) - Florida State, the No. 2 national seed in the 2022 NCAA Softball Tournament, defeated No. 4 regional seed Howard, 8-0, in five innings in their opening game of the Tallahassee Regional on Friday evening on JoAnne Graf Field.

“They did their job, keeping us off-balance, and we had some good situational hitting and great pitching and defense, so it was a good start for us,” FSU head coach Lonni Alameda said after the game. “Now get our rest and get after it in game two.”

FSU (53-5) got a great start in the circle from Danielle Watson (17-4). She threw five innings, walking one and striking out five. It marked her first career individual no-hitter. Howard (31-23), the champions of the MEAC, did not have a player make it beyond first base in the game. The lone base runner they had, via a walk, was picked off at first base by FSU catcher Michaela Edenfield.

“I thought she was pounding the zone pretty good, which is awesome,” Alameda said of Watson. “She was really pounding the zone pretty well. So that was exciting to see. A good smile on her face. And really good for us, to be able to give Kat [Kathryn Sandercock] the ball tomorrow and have someone fresh because she only had 60 or so pitches. That was nice. Defense was right behind her. I thought it was a good showing by her, for sure.”

Annalise De La Roca (15-8) threw the entirety of the game for the Bisons. Over 4.2 innings pitched, she allowed five hits, eight runs (all earned), while walking six and striking out one. She hit a batter and threw a wild pitch.

FSU scratched their first run across in the bottom of the first inning when Jahni Kerr worked a bases-loaded walk, which scored Kaley Mudge from third base. Mudge led off the game with a double.

FSU got themselves some breathing room pushing three runs across in the bottom of the fourth inning. Devyn Flaherty reached when hit by pitch. She stole second and then third. She was brought in on a single to right center by Kerr. Kerr would score on a sacrifice fly by Chloe Culp. Josie Muffley would hit a sacrifice fly that scored D’Aun Riggs from third base. Riggs had come in to run for Edenfield, who walked earlier in the inning.

FSU would wrap things up by plating four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Mack Leonard got the scoring in the frame started with an RBI double that scored Sydney Sherrill from second base. Sherrill walked to lead off the bottom half of the inning. Another sacrifice fly by Kerr scored Autumn Belviy from third base. Belviy had come on to run for Kalei Harding, who walked earlier in the inning. Leonard would score on an RBI single by Edenfield. Edenfield, after stealing second, came around to score and end the game on a single to third base by Culp that found its way into left field.

Kerr finished the evening with three RBI, while Culp had a pair of RBI.

The Seminoles will be back at it early on Saturday as they face No. 3 regional seed USF at 1 p.m. in the winner’s bracket game. The Bulls (45-14) defeated No. 2 regional seed Mississippi State, 4-0, earlier on Friday evening. FSU is expected to turn to Kathryn Sandercock (29-1, 1.41 ERA) in the circle. The Bulls could opt to go with Georgina Corrick in the circle again. Corrick (37-5, 0.51 ERA) threw her 34th complete game of the season on Friday in USF’s victory. She has 40 starts in 59 games on the season for USF and has 47 total appearances on the season.

The Bulldogs (33-25) will face the Bisons at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in the first elimination game of the Tallahassee Regional.

The loser of Saturday’s first game will face the winner of the game between the Bulldogs and Bisons in another elimination game at 6 p.m. on Saturday evening. The winner of Saturday’s first game will advance to the Regional Championship on Sunday at 4 p.m., needing one more victory to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals.

All games will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks.

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