Associated Press4 minutes of reading
OKLAHOMA CITY — Florida State is back in a familiar position.
Kathryn Sandercock and Makenna Reed combined for five innings of scoreless relief as No. 3 Florida State defeated No. 4 Tennessee 5-1 on Monday night to advance to the Women’s College World Series championship series.
Sandercock, a senior for the Seminoles, allowed one hit and struck out four in three innings, earning his 10th save of the year. Reed, a freshman, led the way for Sandercock after allowing one hit in two innings. The win improved to 13-0 on the season.
It’s like the state of Florida. Last year, the Seminoles were the No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, but fell short in regionals. Now, they are in the championship series for the third time in the last five finals.
“It’s every athlete’s dream to end their career in a national championship game,” Sandercock said. “I always knew we could do it, so I’m very proud of the team today. I don’t think words can express how happy I am. I’m very happy. To play one more day and wear the jersey one more time.”
Florida State (58-9) will play No. 1 Oklahoma (59-1) in a best-of-three series for the national title beginning Wednesday. This is a rematch of the 2021 series won by Oklahoma.
Oklahoma becomes the first program since UCLA from 1988 to 1990 to win three straight national championships. The Sooners have won four of the last six titles.
Tennessee’s Zaida Buny opened the scoring in the first on a solo shot by Mack Leonard. It was his sixth NCAA Tournament streak in nine games.
Florida State’s Michaela Edenfield responded with a solo home run in the second. Bethany Keen’s first homer of the season pushed the Seminoles’ lead to 2-1 in the top of the third, and Johnnie Kerr’s RBI single in the fifth extended 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 Wageser’s two-run shot in the sixth made it 5-1. It was Wakesar’s fourth homer.
Home runs by Keene and Wakeser are examples of how Florida State gets contributions from a variety of sources and finds ways to win.
“The ultimate goal is to be able to fire on all cylinders when you come in here,” Florida State coach Lonnie Alameda said. “There’s no book written on how to do that.” Your previous experiences, your upperclassmen, what you think they can continue to bring, you have to think about how you can raise your kids.”
Tennessee’s Kiki Milloy, a first-team National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American, was one of the tournament’s top performers and was held hitless in four at-bats. The Lady Vols (51-10) put seven runners on base.
“We had some opportunities,” Tennessee coach Karen Weekley said. “If they get into the lead, you know you’re going to see Sandercock. She’s very good. She’s one of the best pitchers out there. Why did you watch tonight.”