Anna Shelnutt (13), middle, reacts with teammates after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning during the first game of the championship series in the Women’s College World Series (Photo: Nate Billings, The Oklahoman)
(Oklahoma City, OK) — The Heard County stars continued to shine on the biggest of national stages Monday night as a solo blast over the left field wall from Anna Shelnutt lifted the Florida State Seminoles to a 1-0 game one win over the Washington Huskies in the first of a three game series to determine the NCAA National Champions.
With another win either tonight or tomorrow night Shelnutt and fellow HCHS alum Cali Harrod along with the rest of the Seminoles would celebrate not only FSU’s first national title but the first ever softball title in Atlantic Coast Conference history.
‘Postseason Anna’ continued to live up to her new moniker after yet another clutch hit in the most crucial of situations.
“We had great at-bats,” Shelnutt told reporters in a post game press conference. “We made [Washington pitcher Gabbie Plain] work. We made her throw a lot of balls, and I think everybody battling earlier in the game is what got me that one pitch that I could drive out.”
Since the start of postseason play, Anna has blasted four homers, including a walk-off, three-run shot that sealed FSU’s fifth straight conference tournament title and an extra-inning homer that helped the save the Seminoles’ season in a Super Regional elimination game against LSU just a little over a week ago.
“For her to be able to come in and put together good at-bats for her team with everything she does behind the plate, hats off to her,” Coach Alameda says. “We try to hype her up every day for everything she does for us.”
Go back to the 2017 season, and it becomes clear that “Postseason Anna” has been conjuring late-year magic for her entire collegiate career.
Filling in for injured senior Sydney Broderick, Shelnutt, then a sparingly-used freshman, hit four home runs in last year’s postseason, too, and along the way set an ACC tournament record with seven RBIs in the Seminoles’ win over Virginia.
All told, in 24 postseason games – meaning ACC tournament, NCAA regionals, super regionals and Women’s College World Series – Shelnutt is 24 of 77 (.312) with four doubles, a triple, eight home runs and 20 RBIs.
Despite being underdogs to the Huskies, the entire Seminole line-up was spectacular Monday including an outstanding pitching performance from junior pitcher Meghan King and a huge diving catch by third baseman Jessie Warren in the seventh inning.
Cali Harrod makes a play at shirt during game one of the WCWS (Photo courtesy of Maury Neipris/Florida State Seminoles Softball on Facebook)
King allowed just five hits over seven scoreless innings against a potent UW lineup for her 14th complete game of the season.
Winning a new title would not be a first for Cali and Anna as they were major players in helping bring home Heard County’s first GHSA State Crown home from Columbus in 2014.
Lady Brave head coach Matt Hornsby made the long 12 hour drive to Oklahoma City to see his former stars and says the experience has been priceless.
“It’s just an indescribable feeling,” exclaimed Hornsby after Monday night’s game. “When you see the looks on their faces out there and how much fun their having, you can’t wipe the smile off of your own face. I love both of these girls to death and I’m so excited for them!”
Social media has exploded in Heard County with all eyes watching the series on ESPN to root for the hometown girls. Local fans were especially excited to hear announcers talking about Cali and Anna’s time together at HCHS and everyone was beaming after Shelnutt looked into the ESPN camera and said “I love you mom” just after her incredible game one moment.
The parents of both Anna and Cali have received the home run balls in front of ESPN cameras after each girl’s big blast during the last two games — just one of the many softball traditions in OKC.
The win moves the Seminoles just that one step away from the 2018 NCAA National Championship and FSU and UW will play game two of the best-of-three Championship Series tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.
If the Huskies win tonight a third and deciding game would be played Wednesday night on ESPN.