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Juarez too much as Noles fall in WCWS title game

Florida State’s backs-against-the-wall postseason magic ran out.

The Seminoles had fought off elimination in four games of pool play in the Women’s CWS but couldn’t capture a fifth as Giselle Juarez tossed a two-hitter in Oklahoma’s 5-1 win over FSU on Thursday. The Sooners (56-4) won games 2 and 3 of the best-of-three series to claim their fifth national title.

FSU made an incredible run to the WCWS championship round following a sweep at the regional, Super Regional and fighting through elimination in OKC.

“I think you want to be playing the best softball at the postseason time of year,” FSU coach Lonni Alameda said. “As a coach and as upperclassmen, you keep pouring ingredients in and hoping that when you hit the end of May and June that you can create something special. We kept pouring into each other, softball skills, mental game, relationship building, team bonding. We just kept pouring it in and pouring it in, and the mixture showed up at the right time.”

Jocelyn Alo and Jayda Coleman had solo home runs in the first and second inning, respectively, against starter Danielle Watson as Oklahoma took a 2-0 lead. 

Sydney Sherrill had an RBI double in the third, which could have been scored as an error. The ball was lost in the sun, dropping on the infield and allowing Kalei Harding to score as FSU cut the lead to 2-1.

In the third, after Watson issued a leadoff walk, coach Lonni Alameda went to the bullpen and called on Emma Wilson. The freshman had made 18 appearances and thrown just 20 innings, a surprising move but also one that Alameda likely hoped would pay off since the Oklahoma coaching staff likely hadn’t scouted Wilson.

But Wilson struggled with her control. Following a walk, a groundout and another walk, Coleman hit a two-run double off the left-field wall to give OU a 5-1 lead.

FSU (49-13-1) had just two hits, including Sherrill’s pop up that was lost in the sun. Kaley Mudge had a leadoff double in the first inning, giving her 14 hits and breaking the WCWS record (shared by FSU’s Jessie Warren and a few others). It was one of FSU’s best scoring opportunities, but Sherrill and Elizabeth Mason flew out, while Davis struck out.

“I think moving forward it’s a great learning moment,” Mudge said. “Definitely know that there’s a lot more to come from this program.”

Juarez (23-1) walked two batters and had seven strikeouts. She pitched back-to-back complete games to lead OU to the title.

A winner in game 1, Watson (12-2) pitched two innings and gave up three earned runs. Wilson allowed two runs in 2/3 of an inning. Kathryn Sandercock pitched 3.1 innings, allowing just one hit.

The Seminoles made quite the run in the postseason, especially considering their ACC Tournament hopes ended with a semifinal loss to Duke on May 14. Since then, in a span of just under a month, the Seminoles won five straight games — sweeping the Tallahassee Regional and stunning LSU in the Baton Rouge Super Regional — before dropping the WCWS opener and then finding their footing as they knocked out Arizona, Oklahoma State and Alabama.

“I’m just so proud of the team to be here and everything we’ve gone through this year to persevere and to be in this moment is what we dreamt of,” FSU outfielder Dani Morgan said. “I’m just proud of this team. We were able to get here and give everything we had.”

Mudge and Sandercock were named to the 12-member WCWS All-Tournament Team. OU’s Juarez collected the tournament’s most outstanding player.

BOX SCORE

The Oklahoma-FSU box score can be viewed here.