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Florida State finds offensive punch in 11-4 semifinal win
BLACKSBURG, Va. (theACC.com) – Top-seeded Florida State finally flexed its muscle on Friday afternoon.
After spending the better part of their first two games of the Atlantic Coast Conference Softball Championship grinding out runs and searching for a truly big inning, the Seminoles scored 10 runs in their final three at-bats and pulled away for an 11-4 semifinal win over fifth-seeded NC State.
The nationally ninth-ranked and defending ACC champion Seminoles (44-12) moved on to Saturday’s 1 p.m. title game at Tech Softball Park and will face the winner of Friday’s second semifinal between North Carolina and Pitt.
NC State (35-20) saw a nine-game winning streak end, but the late-season surge should leave the Wolfpack in good shape for an NCAA Tournament berth when the field is announced on Sunday night.
Victoria Daddis and Maddie O’Brien each hit two-run homers for the Seminoles, who saw five of their nine hits go for extra bases. Winning pitcher Jessica Burroughs (15-5) was stellar in relief for the second straight day, working six innings and allowing just one earned run while allowing six hits and striking out five.
Emily Weiman (28-15) took the loss on the mound for NC State. Lana Van Dyken went 2-for-2 and drove in two runs, and Tyler Ross hit a solo homer.
The Wolfpack got to two-time ACC Pitcher of the Year Lacey Waldrop at the outset with three runs and five hits in the top of the first, including Ross’ team-leading 14th home run of the season. Ross, batting second in the order, hit a towering drive that cleared the wall just short of the wall in right-center.
Van Dyken added an RBI double that caromed off the glove of diving FSU centerfielder Morgan Klaevemann, and Maggie Hawkins followed with an RBI single. Hawkins just missed two first-inning RBIs when Van Dyken, attempting to score from second on the play, was called out on a close play at home.
The Seminoles manufactured their way onto the board with their first run in the bottom of the second. Alex Powers walked, moved up on a pair of groundouts and scored on Daddis’ infield single. NC State shortstop Renada Davis made a nice diving stop of Daddis’ sharp grounder but her throw to first was a shade late.
FSU moved in front in the bottom of the fourth, parlaying a couple of Wolfpack mistakes and Daddis’ big bat into three runs and a 4-3 lead. Powers led off for the Seminoles and walked, moved to third on an error by Hawkins at first base and scored on a wild pitch. With one out, Daddis sent a 1-2 pitch from Weiman over the left-field fence for a two run homer – her fourth of the season – to put FSU in front.
NC State answered quickly. Molly Hutchison opened the fifth inning with a towering double off the glove of a leaping Klaevemann near the wall in center. Two outs later, Van Dyken laced an opposite field RBI double just inside the line in left field knotted things up at 4-4.
Van Dyken just missed supplying the Wolfpack with a go-ahead run. She moved to third on a wild pitch and attempted to take home on a pitch bounced off FSU catcher Macey Cheatham’s mitt. Cheatham recovered, however, and made the tag on the sliding Van Dyken for the third out.
FSU wasted little time in reclaiming the lead. A one-out walk to O’Brien and Bailey Schinella’s double to right field set the table in the bottom of the fifth. Powers delivered with a single up the middle that scored both runners and put FSU up 6-4.
The Seminoles removed any doubt in the bottom of the sixth, with Klaevemann ripping a two-run triple and O’Brien slugging her two-run homer in back-to-back at-bats. Ellie Cooper added a sacrifice ffly to account for the final 11-4 margin.
Saturday will mark FSU’s third straight ACC Championship title game appearance. The championship game will be carried live on ESPN. Live statistics will be available throughout the event on the championship website, http://theacc.co/SB15champ.