We play for pressure moments

Phil Kelly

Florida State survived two tough games against USF, winning 2-0 in 11 innings Saturday and 2-1 Sunday.

After such a thrilling weekend of softball it is hard to explain the emotions and excitement that go into each inning, each out and each pitch of the postseason. All week it felt as if the first game of our regional couldn’t come soon enough. Finally, Friday came along and we came out with excitement, beating Fordham 6-1, but we knew our next challenge against the USF Bulls on Saturday would be a tough one.

When you are playing to win or go home, the game changes. You play knowing that one pitch could change the game. Playing the game one pitch at a time takes on a special meaning when you’re in an 11-inning, zero-to-zero dogfight against a tough team with two standout USA national team players -- one of them being the pitcher. It is in these pressure situations that you learn who won’t give in. My teammates and I never budged or complained. We simply enjoyed the moment, playing in front of our home crowd for a chance to advance.

With a USF runner on third and no outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, onlookers probably thought the game was over, but we had other plans. Three pitches later our catcher, Celeste Gomez, picked off the potential winning runner at third. We came out of the inning unscathed and used that momentum to spark our offense.

You never know what the game has in store. You don’t know who you’ll have up when the game is on the line, and you trust that each person is ready to shine when her time comes. In the 11th inning with two outs and the bases loaded, the game chose our sophomore right fielder, Alex Kossoff. She performed in her moment with a single to left-center, scoring two runs, which gave us the win.

One win away from advancing to super regionals, we met the Bulls again on Sunday. USF opened the first inning with one run, but we answered with two of our own. It would stay that way with a few scares until we reached the seventh inning, with no outs and Bulls on first and second base.

It is moments like these that we play for. Pressure situations are what make the game a challenge. In this situation I knew I had to step up for my teammates, and as Coach Alameda came out to talk with us, we all took a deep breath together and locked in for the next three outs. Two strikeouts and a ground ball later, we won to advance to super regionals for the second year in a row.

Hugs and smiles are a common denominator when winning in the postseason, and there were plenty to go around, from the players to the coaches, staff and fans.

You play for those special moments, the pressure situations and the memories you will never forget. We play for others who can’t and for the chance to achieve a childhood dream. On Thursday, we’ll play for the chance to get one step closer to OKC.