July 20, 2018

Cali, Noles aiming for top prize in Oklahoma City

Cali Harrod rounds the bases after her huge homer versus Utah Friday (Photo: Joe Rondone/Tallahassee Democrat)

Cali Harrod rounds the bases after her huge homer in a 6-2 Noles win over Utah Friday in Tallahassee (Photo: Joe Rondone/Tallahassee Democrat)

(Oklahoma City, OK) — Cali Harrod’s remarkable freshman season at Florida State University continues this week as Cali and her teammates vie for the first NCAA National Women’s Softball Championship in FSU history.

For the ninth time in program history, the D-1 school will compete in Oklahoma City after the No. 7 Seminoles (53-8) defeated No. 25 Utah (35-22) by a score of 3-0 on Saturday afternoon to earn the trip to the 2016 Women’s College World Series.

The Noles will be one of the final eight teams in the NCAA postseason for the second time in the last three years, as FSU reached the WCWS in 2014. Florida State recorded its 20th shutout of the season Saturday and extended its winning streak to 10 games.

Cali led the Seminoles to a huge win in the first game of the series on Friday. She went 2-for-3 at the plate – including a three-run homer to put the game completely out of reach – and made a critical catch on defense to lift the Seminoles to a 6-2 victory over the Utes in Game 1 of the best-of-three Tallahassee Super Regional at JoAnne Graf Field.

Cali’s name was trending all over social media locally after her huge performance in front of a live national television audience.

The homer and the catch were both plays so crucial to the game. In fact, Cali had trouble making up her mind on which she preferred when asked about both at a postgame press conference after the game Friday.

“That’s a hard one,” Harrod said when asked about the two plays after the game. “I think the catch (is more fun). Plays like that just get you pumped up. I mean, I thought the home run was good too. I thought the catch was pretty cool because it was pretty close at that time.”

The catch came when the Seminoles were up 2-1 in the top of the sixth inning. Utah had a baserunner on second and third baseman Kristen Stewart drilled a 1-2 pitch from FSU’s Jessica Burroughs.

The ball looked like it was going into the left-field gap for base hit, possibly a double, and Harrod jumped and managed to snag it to end the inning.

FSU head coach Lonni Alameda said Harrod’s progress with the team has been impressive throughout the season.

“She’s good a really good, bright future ahead for us,” Alameda said. “She’s been outstanding, really, at making sure she learns from the upperclassmen and is where she needs to be for our team at the moment. I’m very proud of her.”

Cali’s teammates were also very proud of Cali’s play, especially the run-saving catch. “To me, that was the game-changer,” said redshirt junior first baseman Alex Powers after Friday’s game. “The play she made was huge. It stopped the run from scoring. We just love Cali’s passion and her fight on every pitch.”

The Noles will do battle with the University of Georgia in the first game of the World Series Thursday at noon. Georgia knocked off two-time defending NCAA Champion Florida in another Super Regional.

The winner of the FSU/UGA game will face the winner of UCLA/Auburn at 7:00 PM Friday. UCLA is the winningest program in softball history with an astounding 11 National titles.

The remaining field of eight teams in the World Series include Michigan, Oklahoma, Alabama, and LSU. The Noles split two game match-ups with Auburn and Michigan during the regular season and knocked off UCLA 3-0 in Los Angeles, CA on March 4. Oklahoma won the title in 2013 and Alabama brought home the big trophy in 2012.

Cali, one of only four players on the FSU roster to start every game this season, is very excited about all the support she is getting from back home this season.

“I’m so very thankful for all the support, “says Harrod. “It means more than any words could ever say knowing I have so many people back home watching and supporting me.”

Cali has faced a lot of pressure this season as she is filling the massive shoes of former All-American shortstop Maddie O’Brien.

As she has always done, Cali has been playing her best softball when it matters the most late in the season. She has already won a National PGF Championship in 2012 with the Atlanta Vipers travel ball team and of course helped lead the Lady Braves to the school’s first Georgia State Championship in 2014. Now she has the chance to win fast-pitch softball’s ultimate collegiate prize as only a freshman.

Lady Brave varsity softball coach Matt Hornsby continues to follow Cali’s progress at the next level and is not surprised by her quick progress.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of Cali!It’s unbelievable what she is doing on the national scene down in Tallahassee right now. Players like her don’t come along very often from places like little ole Heard County, if ever! And what makes it even better, is how humble and down to earth she is,” says Hornsby.

“She has never let her talent make her feel as if she’s better than anyone else. She just thanks God everyday and goes back to work at getting better.”

“The thing is, I bet she has gotten literally hundreds of texts this year from her Heard County fans after she had a good game, and I would be willing to bet that she has returned every single one of them because that just the type of person she was raised to be. She is only going to get better from here,” adds Hornsby.

The Noles and UGA will be televised Thursday at noon on ESPN. With a win, Friday’s 7:00 PM game versus UCLA/Auburn would also be on ESPN.

If the Noles drop game one, they would battle the loser of UCLA/Auburn on ESPN Saturday at noon. The Women’s College World Series is a double-elimination tournament with the championship series using a best-of-three format.

The Championship series will be televised nationally on ESPN Monday and Tuesday at 8:00 PM. A third game (if necessary) would be played on Wednesday at 8:00 PM.

To read more and see video of Cali’s postgame press conference visit www.tallahassee.com.

 

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