Another year of Florida State athletics may have proven to be the best in a decade. While the biggest sport of 2018 laid an egg on the field, that did not spread anywhere else.
Florida State’s athletic teams largely lived up to expectations or greatly surpassed them. Two national championships, multiple conference championships, and numerous honors later, the Florida State Seminoles continue their rise in national success.
That made this list exceptionally hard. We thought of at least 20 moments in the calendar year that had an argument for inclusion. Ultimately, we used a criteria that involved significance of the event, the drama surrounding it, and amount of attention it received.
We have linked some of our recaps and various articles that go in depth with the events listed. Here’s to another year of covering FSU athletics, with a special thanks to the readers who make it possible. In the first of a 2-part series, here’s a look at Nos. 6-10:
No. 10 – Women’s Tennis Bounces Florida on Way to Elite Eight
A great year for the FSU tennis teams was punctuated by the women early in the NCAA Tournament. The Seminoles made it all the way to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history, showing the continued improvement under head coach Jennifer Hyde. But it was the second round of the tournament on May 12 that provided one of the top moments of 2018.
The Seminoles went down 3-1 after the first four duels, with Florida looking like it was about to triumph over the best team in FSU program history. That is when things began to unravel for one side and boom for another. Florida State won the next three duels to snatch the victory from Florida, in a Cleveland Cavalier-esque display. It was the end of Florida’s season and the catalyst for Florida State’s deep run.
Any other type of win over a rival would not make the list. But given the circumstances of the comeback and the postseason implications, women’s tennis provided a very satisfying moment.
No. 9 – Women’s Basketball Upsets No. 2 Louisville
The Florida State women’s basketball team flew under the radar for most of the year while the men’s team more or less took center stage. That is a shame, since the women produced some exhilarating victories this year. None were bigger than the win over the No. 2 Louisville Cardinals on Jan. 21.
Even though the Seminoles were ranked No. 12 themselves, Louisville was still the favorite in its home arena. The difference looked significant after one quarter when Florida State found itself down 22-9. As Sue Semrau teams tend to do, the Seminoles began tightening the gap over the next three quarters. It culminated in the late fourth quarter, when the Seminoles trailed 47-46 with just over a minute to play.
Guard A.J. Alix launched a 3-pointer from the top of the key and put the Seminoles ahead for good. Louisville missed a game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds, and was unable to respond to Florida State’s knockout punch. Florida State walked out of Louisville with a 50-49 victory and the second win over the No. 2 ranked team in school history.
No. 8 – Tamorrion Terry’s Game Winner Over Boston College
The football season did not have many highlights from September to November. One of the few was Tamorrion Terry and his dazzling play on the outside. Considering how poorly the offensive line performed in pass protection, that Terry was able to have the season he did is spectacular.
It all came together against the No. 20 Boston College Eagles on Nov. 17. Florida State still had its bowl-eligibility hopes alive, not to mention a desire for head coach Willie Taggart to get a signature victory in his first season. Trailing 21-16, the Seminoles had one last shot late in the fourth quarter with under two minutes to go. Who else could deliver the victory besides the best player on offense?
Terry lined up outside and started sprinting down the field. Quarterback Deondre Francois immediately saw the opening and launched the ball high in the air. Once the fans saw it was open around the 50-yard line, everyone stood to their feet awaiting the inevitable score. Once Terry came down with it and had nothing but open field in front of him, Doak Campbell Stadium erupted. The 74-yard scoring strike with less than two minutes to play served as the game-winner as the Seminoles would hold on to the lead and grab their biggest victory of the year, 22-21.
No. 7 – Baseball Wins Back-to-Back ACC Championships
Nobody wants to talk about the NCAA results. For a second however, remember that FSU baseball was following a script it had read before in recent years: A somewhat disappointing regular season meant that the Seminoles would need to rebound in the postseason ACC Tournament.
Mission accomplished. Three straight wins over Virginia, NC State, and Clemson meant the Seminoles were back in the title game with three more quality wins under the belt. Because nothing is ever easy with FSU baseball, the Seminoles had to once again face off against the Louisville Cardinals in a back-and-forth affair that went to extra innings. Thankfully for FSU, it put three runs across the plate in the top of the 10th and removed all hope of a Cardinal comeback.
Drew Mendoza’s 2-run double ultimately put the Seminoles ahead for good in the 11-8 victory on May 27. While the rest of the postseason did not go as planned, the ACC title was a reminder that Florida State is still the top dog in the conference.
No. 6 – Anna Shelnutt Walks it Off in ACC Title Game
Perhaps FSU softball catcher Anna Shelnutt’s walk-off home run in the ACC Championship over Pittsburgh was a sign of things to come.
The Seminoles were trying to maintain a 5-year streak of ACC titles when the Panthers surged ahead in the top of the sixth inning. Before FSU knew what happened, Pittsburgh led 4-0 and the Seminoles would be forced to pull off a comeback.
It started with one run in the bottom of the sixth and another in the bottom of the seventh. Catcher Anna Shelnutt came up to the plate in a hair-raising situation: Florida State was down 4-2 with two runners on base and two outs. Shelnutt didn’t wait long for the heroics. On the first pitch, she swung towards the fences and launched it over the left field wall for a 3-run walk-off shot to win the game and give FSU a fifth straight ACC crown.
Florida State’s streak had been preserved. Shelnutt would carry her ACC championship momentum into the NCAA Tournament, where she played a key role against Washington in the final series en route to FSU’s first fastpitch national title on May 12.