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Florida State’s offensive versatility kept them alive and, now, it can win them a championship

Florida State catcher Anna Shelnutt (13) is met by team mates at home plate after hitting a...
Florida State catcher Anna Shelnutt (13) is met by team mates at home plate after hitting a home run off an Oklahoma State pitch in the third inning of an NCAA Women's College World Series softball game on Saturday, June 5, 2021, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)(Alonzo Adams | AP)
Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 2:56 PM EDT
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (WCTV) - Monday’s first game of the 2021 Women’s College World Series was a microcosm of how both the Florida State Seminoles and Oklahoma Sooners got to this point in their World Series run.

The Sooners lived and died by the long ball, using back-to-back home runs to score their first two runs of the game and used more power, albeit a hard-hit single, to plate their final two runs off the bat of a player in Mackenzie Donihoo who has had more than one momentum shifting home run this series.

While FSU also used the home run ball to strike first, a two-run blast from Kalei Harding in the bottom of the third, the Seminoles also used three three run-scoring singles and an RBI double to keep their line churning, ultimately sitting on top at the end of the evening with an 8-4 victory, putting them one win away from a second ever Women’s College World Series title and first since 2018.

It’s more or less how the game was expected to play out and, if the Seminoles pitching staff can traverse what will end the season as the best offense in the history of collegiate softball, it’ll prove that when it comes to offense, it can be best to be a master of none.

In Oklahoma City, the Sooners have scored 38 total runs - 47.3% of which have come via the long ball.

The Sooners implore their power in almost a feelings-hurting way: Of their 11 home runs hit this Series, five of them have come as insurance runs and in two of those games (vs. UGA, vs. UCLA), they were hit as almost an exclamation point in a pair of blow-out victories.

Meanwhile, the Seminoles have been less reliant, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t welcomed: Of the Noles’ four home runs this week, three of them have come as the first runs of the game (Anna Shelnutt vs. Oklahoma State, Elizabeth Mason vs. Alabama, Kalei Harding vs. OU) and a fourth, Dani Morgan’s three-run home run vs. Arizona, tied the game, giving the Seminoles the shot in the arm they needed to stave off elimination, sparking their five-game winning streak.

In OKC overall, the Seminoles have scored just 34.6% of their runs by clearing the fence.

“When you get here, you’ve got to make sure you can link those at-bats together,” Florida State head coach Lonni Alameda said ahead of Game 1 against Oklahoma. “And, however it happens and for this ball club, we’ve had to link at-bats together all season, so we’re very comfortable with that.

“We’re comfortable failing, we’re comfortable having quality at-bats, we’re comfortable with moving our runners and then, if one crooked number goes up because someone gets a three-run home rune, then that’s bonus for us,” she continued.

Oklahoma has proven they don’t need the home run to win - in their 10-run win against UCLA to eliminate the Bruins, the Sooners were able to string together an RBI triple, single and double to take a 4-3 lead and then had another run-scoring double and single in between Donihoo’s momentum-swinging slams.

But, the Seminoles have made the top team in the nation play Seminole Softball in order to win a championship and, if the Sooners can’t adjust, it’ll be FSU’s offensive versatility to thank.

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