Florida State head coach Lonni Alameda is in her 13th year at the helm in Tallahassee. In that time she has elevated the Seminoles into an elite national program. FSU has made the NCAA Tournament every year that she has been the head coach, except for last year of course. Florida State has advanced to the Super Regionals in each of the past seven years. In 3 of those years FSU has appeared in the College World Series and of course the Noles won it all in 2018.
FSU has been extremely successful in the ACC as well. Florida State won the ACC regular season crown for six straight years (2013-2018). The Seminoles won the conference tournament in 2011. FSU is currently on a six year conference tournament winning streak that started in 2014 and has continued through 2019.
Last year the Seminoles finished the pandemic shortened season with a record of 17-7.
Florida State will attempt to return to the College World Series this year. Let’s take a deeper look at the Noles.
Due to the pandemic, last year’s season was prematurely cut short. However, the NCAA decided to not count last season when determining eligibility. Therefore, everyone (including seniors) were allowed to come back for this year. Of course incoming freshmen were allowed to join their college teams. This means that rosters will be larger this year than normal for most teams. This will be the case at Florida State as well. Last year FSU had 22 players on the roster. This year there are 25 Seminoles on the roster.
Florida State welcomes the top recruiting class in the nation this year. When added to the talent already on hand in Tallahassee this will increase the competition at some spots. Also, the coaches have been cross-training players at different positions to take advantage of the versatility offered by different players. In short, we will discuss where players are likely to play this season but things can (and probably will) change as the season progresses.
Redshirt senior Dani Morgan (.262/.325/.431) with 3 HR, 17 RBI, and 28 total bases returns in centerfield. Those numbers are okay but in 2019 Morgan hit (.377/.423/.694) with 14 HR, 58 RBI and 127 total bases. Expect Morgan’s production over a full season to be closer to her 2019 numbers. Morgan was named to the first team preseason All-ACC team.
Joining Morgan in the outfield will be redshirt freshman Kiersten Landers (.358/.394/.433) with eight RBI and 29 total bases. Landers will provide speed for the Noles as she was 8-8 in stolen base attempts last year.
The third outfield position is up for grabs. We could see a number of players join Morgan and Landers in the outfield but Jahni Kerr is a player to watch. It will only be a matter of time before the freshman speedster becomes a fixture in the lineup.
Anna Shelnutt is back for FSU behind the dish. Shelnutt only played eight games last year as she suffered a season ending injury when hit in the face by a batted ball. FSU is very happy to have her back healthy. The redshirt senior provides experience behind the plate and a reliable bat in the lineup. She hit (.293/.359/.585) with 11 HR, 35 RBI and 86 total bases in 2019. Shelnutt was named to the first team preseason All-ACC team. When she needs a rest Kaia LoPreste will back her up.
Senior Elizabeth Mason will start at first base. Mason hit (.200/.320/.417) in last year’s shortened season but she hit (.343/.439/.651) with 11 HR, 57 RBI and 110 total bases in 2019. Over a full season her production will likely be closer to her 2019 numbers.
Redshirt freshman Devyn Flaherty has won the second base job. Flaherty hit (.333/.416/.621) with 3 HR, 16 RBI and 41 total bases last year. Flaherty also brings speed to the lineup as she had eight stolen bases in last year’s shortened season.
Josie Muffley (.204/.328/.389) will be the starting shortstop. The redshirt sophomore brings a reliable glove to the shortstop position.
All-Everything redshirt junior Sydney Sherrill returns at third base. Sherrill (.344/.543/.594 with 4 HR, 16 RBI and 38 total bases) is simply one of the best all around players in the nation. For the full season in 2019 Sherrill hit (.405/.469/.782) with 16 HR, 60 RBI and 141 total bases. Sherrill also provides plus defense at the hot corner along with a rifle arm. She is D1 Softball’s preseason ACC player of the year. Sherrill was also named to the first team preseason All-ACC team.
Florida State will feature a staff led by four pitchers. The coaches have confidence that they can use any of these pitchers either to start or in relief.
If there is an ace on the staff it would be Caylan Arnold. By all accounts the redshirt senior is ready to lead the staff. The coaches have been impressed with her work ethic in the off season. Arnold was 5-3 with a 1.40 ERA last year. Arnold was named to the first team preseason All-ACC team.
Kathryn Sandercock was 9-1 with a 2.19 ERA last year. The redshirt sophomore is blessed with a ton of talent as a former five-star recruit. When she puts it all together she can be the heir to the rich pitching legacy in Tallahassee.
Danielle Watson is a redshirt junior transfer from Louisville. She was 12-15, 3.83 ERA for the Cardinals in 2019. Watson is a player who continues to improve. She will likely get her share of innings this year. Redshirt freshman Brianna Enter (1-2, 4.12 ERA) will also get a look in the circle for the Noles.
Florida State has been ranked 12th in the preseason coaches poll. The Seminoles have plenty of talent and are a true contender to make it back to the College World Series in Oklahoma City. This team will hit as the lineup figures to be potent. However, the team will only go as far as the pitching will allow. The coaches are confident in this pitching staff. If this faith turns out to be warranted a return trip to Oklahoma City is certainly not out of the question.
FSU will open the season with a double-header today against Memphis at 12:30pm and Missouri at 3pm. Both games will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.