PITTSBURGH (theACC.com) – Third-ranked Florida State scored four runs at the bottom of sixth to close a one-run deficit to defeat fifth-ranked Clemson 8-6 on Saturday afternoon to win the 2022 ACC Softball Championship at Vartabedian Field.
Florida State wins its 18th ACC championship overall and seventh in the past eight years that the event has been held. The Seminoles improve to 52-5 for the year as Clemson advances to 39-15. Saturday’s game was the first meeting between the teams in the ACC Championship since the Tigers’ inaugural season in 2020.
“Really proud of our team,” said Florida State head coach Lonni Alameda. “We’ve been talking about fights and the next man up mentality all season, so it was really cool to see that come to fruition today. Twenty-one outs and you have to figure out how to get them on day three.
“This is a really good Clemson team and I’m really proud of our conference. It was a tough game yesterday and a tough game today so I think we (the ACC) are going to do really well in the postseason. Excited for the state of Florida to raise the trophy again. We have a goal at the end of the season and that’s part of our process and we’re really excited about what’s next for us.”
Both teams had some nerve early on as the first inning made a few mistakes on defense by each team. Clemson overshot the first run of the game when Cammy Pereira hit an early start infield single from McKenzie Clark and a throwing error. Florida State responded late in the inning after an RBI single from Kalei Harding and a two-run single from Devyn Flaherty to give the Seminoles a 3-1 lead.
Harding was named the ACC Championship MVP after going 5-for-8 on the record with three home runs, five RBI and five runs throughout the week.
The Tigers responded in their next swing to regain the lead 4-3. Carlee Shannon scored with a sacrificial fly from Maddie Moore and McKenzie Clark doubled down the left field line to put down two more runs. Harding scored at the end of the second goal for a 4-4 score.
After a scoreless third inning, Sam Russ hit a solo homer down right center to put Clemson back up 5-4 with their fourth homer of the year.
“Obviously a very tough loss today against a very good team,” said Clemson head coach John Rittman. “So close again but we just didn’t make the plays when we needed to make them today. I am so proud of our team and their dedication.
“What impresses me the most about this team is that we never give up and just keep fighting. Today was a classic example of that.”
A strong sixth inning proved crucial as Florida State scored four goals in the frame to take an 8-5 lead. Kaley Mudge hit a sacrificial fly into midfield and Mack Leonard followed up with a triple homer into midfield to take the Seminoles’ lead to three. The graduate student crushed a 1-2 pitch for her 13th homer of the year.
The ACC teams will now turn their attention to the NCAA Softball Selection Show, scheduled for Sunday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.