Pitt did plenty in the ACC Tournament by beating No. 2 seed North Carolina and No. 3 seed Notre Dame, but fell short in their bid to win the conference tournament today, falling to Florida State, 6-2. The game was on ESPN and if you got a chance to tune in like I did, you saw a really entertaining game.
The Panthers had to scrap and claw to stay in it. Their two runs came as a result of some Florida State miscues. With a runner on first and a groundball comeback to the pitcher, Florida State threw the ball away to put runners on first and second. Following that mistake, a passed ball allowed the runners to move up to second and third before a two RBI double by McKayla Taylor, the team's best slugger, tied the game.
Ohio State transfer Shelby Pickett came up huge for the Panthers in keeping the game close. In the fourth inning with runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs, Pickett got a ground ball, tagged a runner on third then threw to first for a double play. An ensuing groundout to the shortstop got Pitt out of a major jam with runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs. Then with bases loaded in the fifth with only one out and the score still 2-2, Pickett caught a line drive and doubled up the Florida State runner at third. She's come up big for the team all year long offensively, leading the team in hitting (.356 coming into the game) and second in home runs (seven) and RBI (35), but her defense on Saturday is what kept the Panthers in the game.
Pitt finally ran out of gas in the sixth when Florida State hit a two RBI single to give them a 4-2 lead. They added two more runs in that inning to push the lead to 6-2, essentially eliminating the Panthers.
Watching the game, you got the sense that Florida State just had the better team. For five innings, Pitt hung with the Seminoles but was able to do so by scoring a couple of runs on some Seminole errors and some great defense by Pickett to get them out of jams.
The Panthers weren't completely lucky. They had plenty of opportunities, but ultimately left seven runners on base and couldn't get anything other than those two initial runs.
It's disappointing that Pitt couldn't pull off their third consecutive upset by knocking off Top 10 Florida State, but there's obviously nothing to be ashamed about. Just a great run for a team that was expected to finish near the bottom of the conference. With a program-best 35 wins and a few runs from winning the conference championship, this was arguably the Panthers' best ever softball team.
The Panthers will now wait to see if they're selected for their first-ever NCAA Tournament bid. The selection show will be tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. on ESPNU.
Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.