Kaitlin McMillan, Correspondent
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – Though Florida State celebrated going undefeated in conference play, it was a bittersweet moment for the graduating Seminoles that were honored this Senior Day.
FSU Softball (46-3-1, 23-0) has done the miraculous and gone completely undefeated in the ACC this season after a 6-2 victory over North Carolina. To not have suffered a single loss was an achievement that the Seminole players and coaches were not eager to relinquish this weekend against UNC (36-17, 14-8).
“Just going undefeated in the ACC speaks volumes of the team and the coaching staff and the way we prepare,” senior first baseman Alex Powers said. “Beating any team three times in a row is always pretty difficult and for us to do it continuously throughout this ACC has been really special for us.”
As much as it was a big day for the entire team, it was an even more momentous game for those of the Seminoles that will be Florida State graduates this time next week. As a time-honored tradition, friends and family came out to pay tribute to the senior athletes and all that they’ve done for their team. All five seniors were given a round of applause and, in a touching moment, each of the girls’ mothers were invited to the mound to pitch a softball to their child.
“They’re loved by all,” FSU coach Lonni Alameda said. “When you go through being a part of a team, you’ve got a lot of people coming from a lot of different backgrounds and this senior class can relate to every different background. They’re salt-of-the-earth kind of kids. They absolutely love Florida State.”
Senior starting pitcher Jessica Burroughs had a shaky start to the game, giving up two hits and one run to the Tar Heels in the first inning. This early lead was not for lack of the senior’s pitching ability: Burroughs was the first pick in the NPF draft and it’s no wonder—she’s currently seventh in the country in ERA with .98 and sitting at the sixth spot in wins with a whopping 23. It was clear that there was something weighing on this senior’s mind.
“I think it just goes to the emotions of the beginning of the game,” Burroughs said. “I think I came out there and I was still a little teary-eyed throwing the first pitch.”
However, Burroughs and the other seniors did not let UNC gain another inch of its early lead and bounced back quickly going into the second inning. The Noles’ solid pitching devastated North Carolina, bringing strike-out after strike-out.
FSU finally took the lead in the third inning with a sac bunt from senior shortstop Cali Harrod. This scored two runs after a throwing error and brought the game in favor of the Noles 2-1. FSU scored twice again in the fourth inning but the final nail in the coffin for UNC came in the bottom of the sixth.
The Noles scored two more points with a home run that sailed off over the fence and into the trees, courtesy of junior third baseman Jessica Warren. Warren is no stranger to such stunning feats. With that hit, she bombed her 19th home run of the season; cementing herself into the number six spot in that ranking. With a batting average of .453, it’s no wonder this athlete’s climbing closer to the top in what has been a standout career.
Looking ahead, the players and coaching staff are excited for their final home game against the University of Florida on Wednesday. The Noles will be spending the beginning of next week devising a game plan and preparing for UF’s powerful lineup.
The National Title looms in the distance and everyone is buzzing with anticipation.
“When I look back, hopefully I’m seeing a National Championship,” Burroughs said.
The coaches and athletes, especially the seniors, are praying to see a championship win in their future as they draw closer to the finale of an unforgettable FSU softball season.