KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – They're alive--at least for now. Behind the big bat of freshman Jessica Warren, No. 9 Florida State (49-13) defeated No. 8 Tennessee (46-15) by a score of 6-1 to force game three of the NCAA Knoxville Super Regional on May 22. Warren went 3-for-3 from the plate with two home runs and three RBI as the Seminoles held off elimination and will play in a winner-take-all game at 7:15 p.m Friday.
“One of the great aspects of this program is our ability to make adjustments,” said FSU head coach Lonni Alameda. “From game to game, inning to inning, pitch to pitch, we are able to process what has happened and adjust and execute better the next time the situation comes up. Huge win for this team on the road to force game three.”
Florida State got the offense going immediately as two Seminoles did what they’ve been doing all season. Maddie O’Brien drew a four-pitch walk, her 73rd free pass of the season, and she came in to score on the 18th home run of the season by Jessica Warren to make it 2-0 FSU.
It was Warren’s second home run of the Super Regional against UT starter Erin Gabriel, and the freshman is batting .800 (4-for-5) with two home runs, a triple and a walk in her career against the Tennessee pitcher.
Tennessee cut the lead to 2-1 with an unearned run in the third inning. Lexi Overstreet drew a one-out walk from FSU’s Jessica Burroughs and moved up to second on a fielding error by Ellie Cooper. Meghan Gregg later knocked an RBI single to right to score Overstreet.
The Volunteers made a pitching change heading into the bottom of the third. Cheyanne Tarango entered the circle for Gabriel, who left the game after 2.0 innings, giving up two runs on one hit with one walk and one strikeout.
Warren led off the Seminole fourth inning with her second home run of the game and third of the Super Regional to make it 3-1 Florida State. It was her second game this season with multiple home runs, matching her output at Georgia Tech on April 26.
Consecutive base hits by the Noles on singles from Cooper and Bailey Schinella, as well as an RBI double from Victoria Daddis extended the FSU lead to 4-1 and ended the afternoon in the circle for Tarango. She finished with 1.1 innings pitched with three runs on four hits and one walk.
Tennessee brought in Gretchen Aucoin to pitch and the Seminoles made changes as well with Lauren Harris pinch-running for Daddis at second and Bella D’Errico running for Schinella at third. Pinch-hitter Victoria East grounded into a RBI fielder’s choice to short, retiring Harris at third but it allowed D’Errico to score and make it 5-1 Florida State.
Burroughs and the Seminoles bent but would not break in the fifth inning, as Tennessee got the leadoff hitter, Overstreet, on base with a hit by pitch. She moved to second on a great diving play by Cooper in the 3-4 hole for the first out of the inning. Following a strikeout from Burroughs, the inning continued after a fielding error from Warren that put runners on the corners. Burroughs got out of the jam and ended the inning with her third strikeout of the game.
The Florida State offense continued to produce in the bottom of the fifth as Warren had her third hit of the game on a single to left. She took second on a wild pitch and moved to third base on a groundout by Powers. Cooper later stepped in and hit an RBI single to right to bring in Warren and push the lead out to 6-1 Florida State.
Tennessee managed two runners in the sixth on a double by Tarango and a two-out walk to Tory Lewis. Burroughs ended the inning by getting Overstreet to fly out to right field.
After allowing a leadoff walk in the seventh inning, Burroughs’ day in the circle was done for FSU as Schinella came in to pitch. Schinella induced two groundout before surrendering a walk to Aucoin. A pop out to short ended the game and gave the Seminoles the victory.
Burroughs (19-6) tossed 6.0 innings in the win, giving up just one unearned run on four hits with four walks and three strikeouts.
UT’s Gabriel took the loss and moved to 17-7 on the season while Aucoin pitched the final 2.2 innings for Tennessee with three hits and one run with no walks and two strikeouts.