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Warren comes through as FSU turns back Pitt in final
BLACKSBURG, Va. (theACC.com) – Forced out of Florida State’s starting lineup due to a leg injury, Jessica Warren knew any action she saw on Saturday would consist of just a few swings of the bat.
One swing proved to be enough.
Warren’s two-run pinch-hit single in the bottom of the sixth opened the door for a four-run inning that lifted the top-seeded Seminoles past sixth-seeded Pitt, 6-2, in the title game of the 2015 ACC Softball Championship.
The ACC title is the second straight and the 13th overall for the Seminoles (45-12), who anticipate a high seeding when NCAA Tournament selections are announced Sunday night. The outcome halted a spirited run by the Panthers, who slipped to 35-20.
“I don’t think you ever get tired of this,” FSU head coach Lonni Alameda said. “It is a different team, a different fingerprint every year. We had outstanding senior leadership last year, and we had to figure ourselves out this year. It was a great job by our upperclassmen of having that vision of what we need to be and staying consistent.”
Sophomore Jessica Burroughs (16-5), who turned in three vintage relief efforts with two wins and a save in the ACC Championship, was named the tournament’s MVP. Burroughs picked up the win on Saturday, allowing one hit in 4.2 innings while striking out six batters and walking none.
But the high drama was saved for Warren, who was summoned to the plate after Victoria Daddis and Alex Kossoff opened the bottom of the sixth with walks off Pitt reliever Kayla Harris (11-13).
Warren, the ACC Freshman of the Year and a .351 hitter with 16 home runs and 48 RBIs on the season, was hobbled by a leg contusion suffered in Thursday’s quarterfinal win over Boston College. But, luckily for the Seminoles, she could still swing a bat.
“Coach told me to be ready if the opportunity came to help my team score some runs,” said Warren, a freshman from Tampa, Florida. “It’s the same mentality every at-bat. I saw that (Harris) had been throwing all the right-handed batters outside, so I kept that in mind, to see if I could drive it into the right field gap. And that’s what happened.”
It happened in a big way, as Warren powered a 1-2 pitch into right-center to score both runners and put FSU up 4-2. The Seminoles tacked on two more runs for the four-run cushion, and Burroughs sat the Panthers down in order in the top of the seventh.
“She’s been working her butt off for us all season, and she’s come up big for us multiple times,” Burroughs said of Warren. “We all trusted her and knew she could come through, and for her to do that with the pain she was in really put the momentum on our side.”
Pitt starter Savannah King worked four quality innings on the mound before running out of steam. King pitched 18 innings in the ACC Championship, allowing just three runs and 14 hits. Pitt defeated third-seeded Notre Dame and second-seeded North Carolina to reach Saturday’s final.
“I can’t say enough about Pitt,” FSU’s Alameda said, “It is a credit to Coach (Holly) Aprile to bring them as far as she has from February until now. It says a lot about their program, and it is great for our conference.”
Florida State scratched for its first run in the bottom of the first. Leadoff hitter Morgan Klaevemann singled, moved up on a base hit and a fielder’s choice and raced on home from third on Alex Powers’ infield single.
The Seminoles made it 2-0 in the bottom of the second, as Kossoff led off a triple to the gap in right-center and Victoria East followed by punching an RBI single into right field.
Pitt, which suffered three shutout losses to FSU during the regular season, scored a pair in the third to knot things up. Maggie Sevilla singled with one out, and Jenna Modic reached on a throwing error by FSU starter Lacey Waldrop. The runners moved up on a wild pitch, and McKayla Taylor’s double to left field plated both to tie the score at 2-2.
True to what had been form throughout this Championship, the Panthers kept the game even with a timely defensive play in the bottom of the fourth.
Daddis led off with a walk for the Seminoles, and pinch-runner Belia D’Errico stole second and took third on a throwing error by catcher Kathyrn Duran. But after Kossoff drew a walk, East hit a hard shot to left side. Pitt third baseman Shelby Pickett made the grab, put the tag on D’Errico, then threw across the diamond to complete the double play. King then retired pinch-hitter Rylan Harvey on a grounder to short to end the inning.
Almost unbelievably, the Panthers escaped in the bottom of the fifth in almost identical fashion. The Seminoles worked Harris for three straight walks, but Pickett snared a line drive off the bat of Ellie Cooper and doubled Maddie O’Brien off at third to end the inning. The game remained even at 2-2.
But the Seminoles had Warren waiting in the wings when opportunity knocked again in the bottom of sixth, and that made all the difference.
2015 ACC Softball Championship All-Tournament Team:
Amber Parrish, North Carolina
Kylie McGoldrick, Virginia Tech
Savannah King, Pitt
Carly Thea, Pitt
Maggie Sevilla, Pitt
Shelby Pickett, Pitt
Jessica Burroughs, Florida State
Bailey Schinella, Florida State
Alex Powers, Florida State
Victoria Daddis, Florida State
Jessica Warren, Florida State
Most Valuable Player:
Jessica Burroughs, Florida State