Something had to give.
Both Florida State's Meghan King and Washington's Gabbie Plain entered Game 1 of the Women's College World Series championship series with two wins and no earned runs allowed in Oklahoma City.
Finally, Florida State broke through. Sophomore catcher Anna Shelnutt's solo homer in the sixth inning helped the Seminoles defeat Washington 1-0 on Monday night to start the best-of-three series.
Shelnutt had hit just five home runs this season, but the player her teammates call “Postseason Anna” came through.
“I think everybody battling earlier in the game is what got me that one pitch that I could drive it out,” Shelnutt said. “It wore her (Plain) down, and that's where she'd throw me one that I could get a hit for my team.”
Shelnutt's homer was Plain's first earned run allowed in 16 2/3 innings of World Series action.
“The ball was probably a bit higher than I would have liked for it to be, but it was just a good hit,” Plain said. “She read it well and went with it and put it where she wanted it to go. There's not much you can do about that.”
King made it hold up in the final two innings. She pitched a five-hitter with six strikeouts and improved to 3-0 with a save at the World Series. She has not allowed an earned run in 27 1/3 innings in Oklahoma City.
“I know that my teammates have my back every play,” King said. “Our defense has sold out every single pitch this year. I'm lucky to have them.”
The Seminoles (57-12) could clinch their first national title in Game 2 on Tuesday. Washington (52-9) will need to win Tuesday and Wednesday to claim its second national title.
Plain allowed just five hits and struck out six. She called her performance “on the average side,” drawing a chuckle from coach Heather Tarr.
“How do you tell a kid it was a bad night?” Tarr said. “It wasn't a bad night. We didn't score. Our bad.”
Both teams left seven runners on base in a fast-paced game filled with dynamic defensive plays.
In the third inning, Florida State's Morgan Klaevemann reached third base with no outs and did not score. Washington loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the third and Florida State escaped without allowing a run.
Plain walked the bases loaded in the fourth with two outs. With a full count, Klaevemann hit a grounder and Washington shortstop Sis Bates tagged Florida State's Dani Morgan to end the inning.
The Seminoles might have gotten more in the sixth inning after Shelnutt's homer, but Bates tracked down what appeared to be a sure hit in the outfield, then threw a runner out at second for a double play.
In the seventh, Washington got a runner on with no outs before Florida State third baseman Jessie Warren dove to catch a short pop-up, then doubled up the runner at first.
Florida State coach Lonni Alameda said Warren, best known for being the nation's active home run leader, has a strong glove, too.
“She plays third base like a shortstop,” Florida State coach Lonni Alameda said. “She makes those plays all the time. She loves playing the game. We've seen her do that a bunch of times. Big-time players make big-time plays in big moments. It wasn't something that was abnormal for what Jess does.”
Washington expects to bounce back from its first non-conference loss of the season.