Fall 2023

Kaley Mudge leads Florida State back to WCWS Finals knowing 'God has my back'

The last time Florida State outfielder Kaley Mudge faced Oklahoma in the Women’s College World Series Finals, she collected four hits in three games to break the WCWS hits record with 14. Two years later, the Seminoles and Sooners are meeting in the championship series again.

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Florida State beat Tennessee 5-1 on Monday night to reach the championship series for the third time in five tournaments. Mudge recorded a hit and two stolen bases in the win.

FSU ended up losing in three games to Oklahoma in 2021, but that breakout tournament as a redshirt freshman vaulted Mudge’s softball career.

“I remember feeling like a little kid on a playground,” Mudge recently told The Athletic. “I was just so excited to be on that field, and that week was definitely the best week of my life. Aside from making it to the national championship and breaking the record, I just remember all of the memories with my teammates and coaches and all the fun we had on and off the field.”

Florida State lost in the NCAA Tournament’s regional finals last year as the No. 2 national seed. This year as the No. 3 seed, the Seminoles (53-8), like No. 1 OU (55-1), have not lost in the Women’s College World Series.

Mudge is hoping to make it a dream season for her dream school. Growing up in Winter Springs, Florida, FSU had always been where she wanted to play. She thanked God in a social media post after officially singing in 2018.

 

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Her relationship with God began to become more authentic during her sophomore year of high school. A friend invited Mudge to a small group at her church, and the experience was a turning point in Mudge’s faith journey. She started to understand how the Bible could impact her life on a daily basis.

“My eyes were just really opened as to how I could apply the Word to my own life and how I could have a relationship with God,” she said in March on the “Set Free” podcast. “And it wasn’t just the Bible that I had to read and follow, but it was the Bible that I could read and apply to my own life.”

Mudge arrived on campus in the fall of 2019 and appeared in 23 games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. She played in 57 games on the national championship runner-up team in 2021, then was a first-team All-ACC selection in 2022.

This season, she is first on the team in hits (73) and runs (49), second in batting average (.351) and third in RBIs (43).

Another important moment in Mudge’s walk with Christ came near the end of the 2021 season. She came across a tweet from a professional softball player that said, “My result is not my worth.”

The tweet did not mention faith or God, but something clicked for Mudge. She started playing with a new sense of freedom and putting less pressure on herself.

“I can go 0-for-3 and the world is not over,” she said on the podcast. “It is OK to go through a slump. It is OK to go through hard times. God has my back. God has this plan in store for me.”

About to finish her fourth season at Florida State, Mudge is filled with gratitude for the ways God has been at work in her life.

“I’m so grateful to be here, and I’m so grateful God has given me the opportunity to be here and given me this space to where I can be the best athlete that I can be, but also be the best daughter in Christ,” she said on the podcast. “I feel like it’s such a humbling experience to remember that and to not get too far from His love.”

The best-of-three championship series between FSU and OU begins Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. Game 2 is at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, and Game 3 would be at 8 p.m. ET on Friday. Oklahoma enters the series on an NCAA-record 51-game winning streak.

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