History made. The Grand Canyon softball team became GCU's first Division I-era team to beat a team with a No. 1 national ranking Wednesday night when it stunned defending national champion Florida State 5-3 at GCU Softball Stadium.
The Lopes (12-8) hosted undefeated Florida State (23-1), marking the second consecutive season that GCU has hosted the reigning national champs at GCU Softball Stadium, and topped the Seminoles in the first game of a doubleheader.
"What a great night for the program," GCU head coach Ann Pierson said. "I am so proud of the kids. To just come out with this crazy focused energy. To just compete.
"What a great celebration for them and for the program and the university. (Associate head coach coach) Christi (Musser) gave the hitters a great plan for their approach at the plate and (assistant coach) Mandy (Gardner) prepared our pitching staff for the tough competition."
With the tying run at the plate for Florida State, GCU sophomore pitcher Yessie Morrison finished off her complete-game win by inducing a pop out and a fly out consecutively to end the game and start a Lopes celebration along the third-base line. Morrison yielded back-to-back home runs to start the game but only allowed four hits over the final six innings to the nation's top hitting team.
FSU led 2-0 after the back-to-back solo home runs from first baseman Carsyn Gordon and third baseman Sydney Sherrill. The Seminoles tacked on another run in the third inning, but a highlight-reel catch from GCU shortstop Shea Smith set up the senior to double up a Seminole runner at second base and end the frame. A line drive up the middle from FSU's Elizabeth Mason required Smith's diving effort but the double play was aided by movement on contact from Gordon at second, allowing Smith to get up and walk to second base to limit the damage to one run in the frame.
GCU kept the momentum from the diving play into the bottom half of the third, when Lopes sophomore catcher Kaileigh Holland cut the Florida State lead to two runs with a leadoff home run.
Florida State had a threat in the fifth inning with runners on the corners, but GCU's 2-4-5 rundown ended the inning between third base and home plate.
The Lopes tied the game at 3-3 in the fifth inning. Back-to-back doubles from senior third baseman Sierra Smith and freshman second baseman Savannah Tourville cut the FSU lead, 3-2.
An infield single from senior left fielder Maddie Dowdle put runners on the corners with just one out for pinch hitter Jordon Keeton, who slapped a single through the right side to score pinch runner Taylor Tetone from third and move Dowdle over with Keeton advancing to second. The Lopes stranded two in scoring position to end the inning after a line drive to left from designated hitter Lilly Bishop.
#WACtopPlay Check out this amazing catch by @gcu_softball's Taylor Kaye last night, laying out to rob a Seminole of a hit! One of many huge plays by the Lopes in their victory over No. 1 Florida State last night! pic.twitter.com/QuYGdiRFGF— WACsports (@WACsports) March 7, 2019
Tourville gave the Lopes their first lead of the game in the sixth inning, doubling to left field to score pinch runner Christine Bellavia from third. It marked only the third time Florida State even had trailed in a game this season.
Holland was hit by a pitch by reliever Cassidy Davis, putting runners on first and second. Dowdle then sent a high chopper over the head of Sherill at third base to score Tourville from second and move Holland to third.
Morrison (4-2) put on a masterpiece performance after the rocky first inning, cooling off the bats of a team that entered Wednesday hitting an NCAA-leading .386. The sophomore allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk.
RANKINGS REACTION: Florida State entered the week No. 1
The Lopes got to Florida State ace Meghan King, whose earned run average of 0.72 ranked 14th in the nation before the loss to GCU. The Lopes scored all five runs against King on seven hits in her 5 2/3 innings of work.
The Seminoles bounced back to salvage the split with an 11-1 win in Game 2. FSU jumped out to a 7-0 lead after two innings but Shea Smith put the Lopes on the board with a fourth-inning home run, putting her batting average at a team-high .462 for the season.
The Lopes head to Norman, Okla., for four games against Drake, Tulsa, Northwestern and Oklahoma starting on Friday at OU Softball Complex.