Duke softball rallies in the sixth inning to win second ACC tournament in program history

Ana Gold was a big factor in Duke's win against Florida State.
Ana Gold was a big factor in Duke's win against Florida State.

Team 7 is ACC champs.

At the first ever ACC tournament in Durham, the hosts are bringing home the hardware, as the top-seeded Blue Devils took down conference powerhouse and No. 2-seed Florida State behind a fervent comeback bid in the sixth inning to emerge with a 6-3 victory. The title is the second in program history, with the last coming in 2021. 

Duke (47-6, 20-4 in the ACC) entered this championship match after back-to-back thrillers in the previous two rounds, as it took extra innings to knock off both Boston College and Clemson. Once again, the title game came down to the wire, as the Blue Devils had to find a late run just like they needed to against the Tigers. 

That chance presented itself in the bottom of the sixth, as Claire Davidson and Amiah Burgess drew two straight walks to set up Ana Gold with two runners on and only one out. And as she has so many times in her illustrious Duke career, the junior came through, ripping a single up the middle to score Davidson and tie the game at three. 

Kelly Torres followed it up with a major blow, as her fielder’s choice was mishandled at the plate by Florida State catcher Michaela Edenfield to give Duke its first lead at 4-3 and keep the bases loaded. Gisele Tapia then provided the knockout punch, dropping a single into left-center field that made it 6-3 and ignited a sold-out crowd at Duke Softball Stadium. 

After a slow three first innings from both sides, Florida State (43-15, 19-5) threw a haymaker in the top of the fourth. Third baseman Jaysoni Beachum led the inning off with a walk, and Kalei Harding provided the first score of the day for either squad, crushing a ball over the left-field wall to put the visitors up 2-0. The offense kept coming for the Seminoles as Isa Torres legged out an infield single right behind Harding, making it three straight runners allowed for ACC Pitcher of the Year Jala Wright. 

That streak soon became four, as Edenfield smoked a double down the right-field line to make it 3-0 in favor of Florida State, chasing Wright out of the game and prompting Cassidy Curd to enter. 

Curd made quick work of the bottom half of the Seminole order, getting a groundout and then two strikeouts, and the Port St. Lucie, Fla., native showed some serious emotion coming off the mound as she looked to spark a fire in her squad. 

That outburst from Curd seemed to aid the Blue Devils in their half of the fourth inning, as back-to-back singles from Davidson and Aminah Vega prompted Florida State to make its own pitching change, pulling Royalty for freshman Ashtyn Danley. A groundout from Burgess gave Duke two runners in scoring position for Gold, who plated one via sac fly to cut the lead to two. 

Torres punched next for the Blue Devils, ripping a single over the outstretched glove of Beachum, and an errant throw from left both brought in a run and advanced the senior to second. However, Danley finally escaped the jam, getting Jada Baker to fly out to keep it 3-2 heading into the fifth. 

It seemed as if Florida State had some two-out magic in the top of the fifth as Beachum stepped to the plate again, as the freshman skied a ball to deep center that prompted a large Florida State contingent to leap to its feet. However, a leaping grab at the wall from D’Auna Jennings kept the ball in the yard and the score at 3-2. 

Florida State picked up its first hit of the day courtesy of Amaya Ross in the top of the third, who narrowly beat out a throw from Gold to give the visitors an early threat. However, Ross took off to second on a pitch from Wright, and the Blue Devil catcher Torres hosed her on a throwdown, neutralizing the danger. 

Coming off a dominant performance in Thursday’s quarterfinal against Boston College, Wright once again took the ball for the Blue Devils Saturday. But she did not have her best outing, only making it three innings while allowing three runs on four hits. 

Duke will await its seeding in the NCAA tournament, which will be announced Sunday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. 


Share and discuss “Duke softball rallies in the sixth inning to win second ACC tournament in program history” on social media.