And then there were two.
No. 1-ranked Oklahoma and No. 3-ranked Florida State will play best 2-of-3 for the national championship at the 2023 Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. Teams get today off with play resuming Wednesday, June 7, at 8 p.m. The second game will be Thursday, June 8, at 7:30 p.m. and the final game, if necessary, will be Friday, June 9, at 8 p.m. All games are Eastern Time and will be broadcast on ESPN.
Florida State beat Tennessee 5-1 in Monday’s semifinal.
Coach Karen Weekly started pitcher Payton Gottshall on Monday, but brought in freshman Karlyn Pickens in the third inning. And Ashley Rogers, who pitched a full game in Sunday’s win over Oklahoma State, came on late to give up two runs on two hits as the ‘Noles put the game out of reach. Tennessee ended the season 51-10 and won both the SEC regular season and tournament titles.
Tennessee scored first on a solo homerun by Zaida Puni in the first inning, but then the offense sputtered. Vol batters faced FSU’s ace, Kat Sandercock, in the final three innings. The senior all-American allowed just one hit and struck out four.
Florida State tied with a solo homer by Michaela Edenfield in the second inning and got another by Bethaney Keen in the third inning. FSU scored next in the fifth inning on an RBI by Jahni Kerr, and got its final runs in the sixth inning when Hallie Wacaser hit a two-run home run.
Oklahoma beat Stanford 4-2, in the earlier semifinal. The score was tied 2-2 until Tiare Jennings’ two-run double in the ninth inning. Stanford lost only to Oklahoma (twice) in the NCAA World Series and could make a case for being the second-best team there. The Cardinal has the Freshman of the Year in pitcher NiJaree Canady and a coach, Jessica Allister, who played at Stanford and coached the team to a 47-15 record and the national semifinals.
Ashley Rogers, standing in the dugout, her hand on her right shoulder as she watched Tennessee’s final at-bats.
It is hard to get there: Coach Rick Barnes is right. There are 286 NCAA D1 softball programs. Of those, 64 teams competed in the NCAA tournament with only 16 teams making the Super Regionals and 8 teams going to the World Series. Tennessee players and coaches gave fans their money’s worth.
Florida State vs. Oklahoma is a replay of the 2021 national championship. Oklahoma won in ‘21 and has won five times in the past 10 years.
Tennessee has never won the College World Series, but was national runner-up in both 2007 and 2013.