To put it bluntly, Jessie Warren was one of the greatest college softball players ever. From the time she arrived in Tallahassee after an All-American high school career in Tampa, Florida State softball fans witnessed history. She became just the second player to earn First-Team All-ACC honors four years in a row. In Division I history, the three-time NFCA All-American ranks 8th in home runs (83), 6th in total bases (604), and 8th in RBIs (273). She finished her career as a two-time ACC Player of the Year and delivered the Florida State Seminoles their first Women’s College World Series title.
Named the 2018 WCWS Most Outstanding Player — she tied the WCWS record with 13 hits — Warren delivered the most memorable highlight of her career on the biggest stage there is.
The 2017-18 Seminoles were red hot. After Anna Shelnutt’s walk-off home run to win the ACC Tournament title for the fifth-straight year, head coach Lonni Alameda’s squad entered the NCAA Tournament as the sixth overall seed. FSU beat Auburn and Jacksonville State in the Tallahassee Regional, knocked off LSU in a best-of-three series to win the Super Regional, and advanced to the program’s 10th WCWS.
In their first game, Pac-12 powerhouse UCLA beat them. Facing elimination the rest of the way, FSU beat Georgia, No. 1 overall seed Oregon, then avenged the UCLA loss by beating the Bruins twice to reach the final against the Washington Huskies.
Shelnutt’s solo home run in the sixth inning of Game One gave FSU a narrow 1-0 lead. In the top of the seventh inning, the Huskies were threatening with a runner on first base and no outs. Trying to squeeze down a bunt and advance the runner sounded like the smart play.
Too bad Jessie Warren was ready for it.
Jessie Warren’s WCWS Double Play
With reflexes only a four-time all-conference performer could have, Warren flew from third base and caught the bunt attempt on a spectacular diving catch. Without thinking, she threw over to first from her knees, catching Washington’s runner halfway between first and second base.
The play was all over ESPN’s Top 10 and was a finalist at the 2018 ESPY Awards for Best Play. It received more votes than Tua Tagovailoa’s game-winning touchdown in the College Football Playoff National Championship, Stefon Diggs and the “Minneapolis Miracle,” and two different LeBron James buzzer-beaters.
Two batters later, the game was over, and Florida State held the advantage heading into Game Two of the three-game championship series.
After going down 3-0 in the first inning the following night, FSU rattled off eight unanswered runs to capture the WCWS title. Those Seminoles are one of only three national champions to lose its first game and still win the whole thing, joining Texas A&M (1983) and UCLA (2003).
In fitting fashion, Warren’s final hit of her Florida State University career came with the ‘Noles leading 7-3 in the fourth inning. Her 83rd career home run sailed clear over the centerfield fence.
She flied out in her final at-bat, bringing her WCWS batting average that year to a mind-boggling .520.
Where is Jessie Warren Now?
Warren was selected seventh overall in the 2018 NPF Draft by the USSSA Pride. Through two professional seasons, Warren picked up right where she left off. She clubbed 10 home runs and 39 RBIs in that span, and she became just the fourth woman ever to be awarded a Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2019, adding to her incredible career accolades.
“For the little kid out of Tampa that didn’t play on a huge club team, for the young woman at Florida State that was able to make a play that put us on the national stage, for all those little things that are all the stories that we love to hear about, she is part of them,” Alameda told Softball America.
If there’s one name to know in FSU softball’s long and storied history of excellence, it’s without a doubt Jessie Warren, the greatest hitter and clutch performer in ACC history.