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Florida State, Oklahoma State one win from Women’s College World Series berths

ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Oklahoma State’s Kiley Naomi is welcomed at home plate by her teammates after hitting a home run.
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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Oklahoma State’s Kiley Naomi is welcomed at home plate by her teammates after hitting a home run.

Kathryn Sandercock has found her groove, and now Florida State is one win away from returning to the Women’s College World Series.

Sandercock allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings as No. 3 seed Florida State defeated No. 14 seed Georgia 8-1 in Game 1 of the Tallahassee Super Regional today.

It wasn’t quite as good as her previous performance — she threw a perfect game with five strikeouts on Sunday in a 1-0 win over South Carolina that clinched Florida State’s spot in super regionals. But today’s effort was good enough to put the Seminoles (54-9) ahead in the best-of-three series with Georgia (42-14).

The Seminoles won the national title in 2018 and were runners-up in 2021. Sandercock was a key player on that 2021 team, winning three World Series games and earning All-Tournament honors. But last year, the Seminoles lost in regional play despite being the No. 2 overall seed.

This year, Florida State is still alive and Sandercock is rolling. She’s now 3-0 in NCAA Tournament play, and she will be relatively fresh heading into Friday’s game after throwing just 63 pitches in the super regional opener.

Sandercock made her 179th appearance in the circle for Florida State, matching Leslie Malerich’s Florida State record for the most pitching appearances.

MUDGE MASHES

Florida State’s Kaley Mudge had three hits and three RBIs against Georgia.

The second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference performer had an RBI double in the third, and she singled to knock in two runs in the fifth.

Mudge knows how to step up under pressure — she was on the World Series All-Tournament team in 2021.

GAMBLE WORKS

Oklahoma State coach Kenny Gajewski chose to start Lexi Kilfoyl over Kelly Maxwell, and it worked.

Kilfoyl threw a complete game as No. 6 seed Oklahoma State (45-14) defeated unseeded Oregon 8-1 tonight in the first game of the Stillwater Super Regional.

Maxwell is the more accomplished pitcher. She was a first-team National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American last season, and this season, she was a top-25 finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year and an All-Big 12 first-team selection.

Kilfoyl, a second-team All-Big 12 selection this season, had been strong recently. Maxwell got the win in the regional opener against Maryland-Baltimore County last Friday, with Kilfoyl adding a perfect inning of relief. The next day, Kilfoyl got the win with six shutout innings against Wichita State, one of the nation’s top offensive teams. Then, Kilfoyl got the win in relief of Maxwell against Nebraska on Sunday in the game that clinched the super regional spot.

Kilfoyl kept it going today, retiring the last 17 batters she faced. Now, the Cowgirls are one win away from their fourth straight trip to the World Series.

It didn’t look good at first. Oregon (38-16) took a 1-0 lead in the second inning before Oklahoma State scored three runs in the fourth inning and four in the fifth.

EARLY EXIT

Oregon assistant coach Nikki Ragin was ejected in the sixth inning against Oklahoma State. She argued after one of Oregon’s hitters was called out for stepping out of the box while hitting. Oklahoma State led 7-1 when the ejection occurred.

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