FSU Adjusts, Ties The Series
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - In a series that pits two all-around talented teams against each other, in-game adjustments can tip the scales in favor of one side, while the lack thereof can be fatal.
Florida State head coach Lonni Alameda and Oklahoma State head coach Kenny Gajewski understand this quite well, preaching the importance of such on-the-spot corrections to get a leg up on the other team. Alameda’s Seminoles (55-9) put that advice into play on Friday night, dispatching the Cowgirls (43-15) 4-1 and tagging Samantha Show for all four runs an evening after they couldn’t solve her at the plate.
Despite yielding four earned runs in three innings of work, Show allowed just two hits while in the circle on a night where the ’Noles took advantage of walks and a very hitter-friendly strike zone.
The entirety of both teams’ offense came in the third inning; Carsyn Gordon’s bases-loaded walk plated Cassidy Davis, who was plunked by Show on the first pitch of the frame. Sydney Sherrill drove in one more with a sacrifice fly before Elizabeth Mason’s single brought Cali Harrod and Gordon around to score.
Sydney Pennington scored the Cowgirls’ only run in the bottom half of the inning, after Sherrill spiked a throw to first while attempting to throw out Rylee Bayless.
For Alameda and her squad, it was all about staying focused and avoiding the “monkey on their back” after being shut down by Show, who recorded twenty-seven consecutive outs across Thursday and Friday’s games.
“We have to play game 50 the same way we play game one,” Alameda said.
For her, that maxim goes beyond just the game - it also extends to the integrity of her position as a head coach.
“If you act differently as a head coach, you’re essentially lying to the team when you’re saying it’s about a one pitch game. I think we do a pretty good job handling that and handling it from the top,” she noted after Friday’s game.
Gajewski’s faith in his team was unshaken after Friday night’s game, but he believed that the game down to the Seminoles taking advantage of the Cowgirls’ mistakes.
“The difference is their base on balls and hit by pitch, five free bags that cost us four runs. You can’t do that to good teams,” he observed.
For FSU starter Meghan King, her complete-game win provided a nice return to form after allowing the clinching home run in extra innings during yesterday’s heartbreaker. King struck out nine Cowgirls and allowed just the one run on four hits.
It also signified a much larger moment for her, as the senior comes into Saturday’s elimination game staring down the twilight of her softball career in Tallahassee.
Despite being the visitors in Friday’s affair, the Seminoles had many of the 1,550 fans that packed JoAnne Graf Field behind them, and the crowd roared in approval after King struck out Kylie Naomi for the second out of the seventh inning.
“The crowd is just incredible. I just had to take a second when we got the second out and take it in… I’m just going to miss this,” she admitted after the game.
“It was one of those moments as a senior… you just look around, and this is freaking awesome.”
As both teams ready for their do-or-die matchup at 12:00 sharp on Saturday, they do so knowing much of what they can expect from their opponent. Both Gajewski and Alameda all but confirmed that their starters from the first two games would be back in the circle on Saturday. And both offenses have had a full dose of King and Show, having seen their arsenals for two days straight now.
It’s a winner-take-all showdown between the Cowgirls and the Seminoles, starting at high noon on Saturday in Tallahassee.