OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Florida State is back in a familiar position.
Kathryn Sandercock and Makenna Reid combined for five innings of scoreless relief to help No. 3 seed Florida State defeat No. 4 Tennessee 5-1 on Monday night and advance to the Women’s College World Series championship series.
Sandercock, the Seminoles’ veteran ace, allowed one hit and struck out four in three innings to claim her 10th save of the year. Reid, a freshman, gave way to Sandercock after allowing one hit in two innings. She claimed the win to improve to 13-0 this season.
This is more like it for Florida State. Last year, the Seminoles were the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament but lost in regionals. Now, they are in the championship series for the third time in the past five finals.
“It’s just every athlete’s dream to end their career in a national championship game,” Sandercock said. “I always knew that we could do it, so I’m just really, really, really proud of the team today. Like, I just don’t think that words could even express how happy. I’m just so elated to be playing one more day and getting to put the jersey on one more time.”
Florida State (58-9) will play No. 1 seed Oklahoma (59-1) in a best-of-three series for the national title starting Wednesday. It’s a rematch of the 2021 series that Oklahoma won.
Oklahoma looks to become the first program since UCLA from 1988 to 1990 to win three straight national championships. The Sooners have won four of the past six titles.
Oklahoma defeated No. 9 Stanford 4-2 earlier in the day and waited for the evening winner.
Tennessee’s Zaida Puni hit a solo shot off Mack Leonard in the first to open the scoring. It was her sixth NCAA Tournament home run in nine games.
Florida State’s Michaela Edenfield answered with a solo home run in the second. Bethaney Keen’s first homer of the season pushed the Seminoles’ lead to 2-1 in the third and Jahni Kerr’s RBI single in the fifth pushed Florida State’s lead to 3-1.
Tennessee starter Payton Gottshall took the loss. Lady Vols ace Ashley Rogers entered the game in the fifth, but Hallie Wacaser’s two-run shot off her in the sixth made it 5-1. It was Wacaser’s fourth homer of the year.
The home runs by Keen and Wacaser were examples of how Florida State gets contributions from various sources and finds ways to win.
“The ultimate goal when you get here is can you have everything firing on all cylinders,” Florida State coach Lonni Alameda said. “There’s no book written on how to do that. You have to go from your previous experiences, your upperclassmen, what you think they can consistently bring, how you can grow your young ones.”
Tennessee’s Kiki Milloy, a first-team National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American, was held hitless in four at-bats after being one of the best performers in the tournament. The Lady Vols (51-10) left seven runners on base.
“We had some opportunities,” Tennessee coach Karen Weekly said. “You kind of knew if they got to a point where they had a lead, you were going to see Sandercock. She’s very good. She’s one of the best pitchers. You saw why tonight.”