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No. 7 FSU softball in Clearwater Invitational: Tournament preview, how to watch, game threads

The Seminoles will face a slew of ranked teams in the TaxAct Clearwater Elite Invitational

The seventh ranked Florida State Seminoles travel to Clearwater this weekend for a tough competition schedule. They will play five teams, all of which are ranked. Last season, they went 5-0 and look to do the same in 2023. Let’s take a look at three of the opponents the Seminoles will be facing.

Arizona Wildcats - Feb. 17

Florida State wins 6-4

From our recap:

Back out for the bottom of the 4th, Sandercock gave up the first run of the game. A one out solo shot off the bat of Carlie Scupin put the first run on the board for Arizona. Two more hits, a triple and single put one more run on the board, cutting into the FSU lead 6-2. Applying more pressure, a single and wild pitch had two runners in scoring position. Soon a two out error cut the FSU lead to 6-4. Answering back, Sandercock ended it on her third strike out of the inning.

Rolling through the 5th and 6th, Sandercock and Silva held it down for their teams in the circle. In the top of the 7th, the Seminoles went down in order, bringing the bats back one final time for Arizona, who was the designated home team. To close it out, Makenna Reid entered to face ranked competition for the first time ever. Reid kept the Wildcats quiet with a 1-2-3 inning, and FSU claimed their first ranked win of the season by a 6-4 score.

Arkansas Razorbacks - Feb. 17th, 1 PM ESPNU

FSU wins 9-6

From our recap:

Ali Dubois got the start in the circle for the Seminoles, who were the home team. Arkansas quickly put runners on base with two singles, and with two outs, Kaycie Hoffman doubled to score the two runners. A fly out ended the top half of the first with a 2-0 Arkansas lead.

Against Callie Turner for the Razorbacks, the ‘Noles had a hard time finding bat to ball, until the bottom of the 3rd inning. After Makenna Reid came in for DuBois in the 2nd, she starved off the Hogs for her offense. In the 3rd, Arkansas decided for a pitching change of their own, to their ace Chenise Delce. Immediately, Kalei Harding welcomed her with a solo shot to left center field. Two outs later, Katie Dack tied the game with a solo shot of her own.

In the home half of the 5th, FSU looked to come back from the 3-2 deficit. Mack Leonard led off with a single, and was replaced by Amaya Ross. A stolen base from Ross didn’t matter much as Harding went deep for her second homerun of the ball game. the 2 run shot put the ‘Noles back in from 4-3.

With no outs, and FSU now in the lead again, the Razorbacks went back to Turner. She gave up back to back walks to Michaela Edenfield and Devyn Flaherty, before Dack added her second RBI of the day on a double that scored Edenfield. The second double of the inning by Hallie Wacaser brought home Flaherty and Dack.

Continuing to pour it on, Kaley Mudge joined in on the homerun party. Now with two outs, Mudge went deep off of new pitcher, Robyn Herron, who recorded the two outs. Mudge’s two RBI brought the score to 9-3 at the end of the 5th.

UCLA Bruins - Feb. 18th 10 AM ESPNU

Like the Wildcats, the UCLA Bruins are also starting 2023 after a WCWS appearance, where they were one game away from the championship series. 2022 was also the last time the Bruins faced the Seminoles, which also came in Clearwater. In that matchup, that went into eight innings, Kalei Harding ended the game on a walk off single in the night cap game on Sunday.

Last season, UCLA had Megan Faraimo in the circle as the ace, with the help of Holly Azevedo. Coming into her redshirt senior season, Faraimo was the PAC 12 Pitcher of the Year in 2022 with a 1.98 ERA, 198 IP, 292 K and was a USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year TOP 25 Finalist.

Now, they don't have Azevedo but bring in Oregon transfer Brooke Yanez. Yanez did not pitch last season for the Ducks, but spent two seasons in Eugene after transferring from UC Davis where she was the Big West Pitcher of the Year in 2019. As a Duck she had 362 strikeouts in 245 innings, 2.11 ERA and was second in the conference in strikeouts in 2021.

Offensively, they are led by Maya Brady, who had the best opening weekend of anyone in college softball last weekend. Batting .684, Brady has 13 R, 13 H, 14 RBI 4 HR and 5 BB to her name. Freshman Megan Grant is batting well with a .333 at the plate, 5 R, 6 H, 2 2B, 1 HR and 8 RBI. The Arizona transfer, Sharlize Palacios is also having a good season as a Bruin so far. The .278 hitter has a .992 OBP with 5 R, 5 H, 2 HR, 7 RBI and 3 BB.

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns - Feb. 19th 1 PM ESPN+

The Cajuns are, and have been, the best team out of the SunBelt for the last several years. Last season, they ended 47-13 and lost in the Clemson regional to the host team Tigers. Head coach Gerry Glasco is no stranger to putting out a heavy schedule for his team, as last season they faced eight ranked teams.

In 2023, the expectation for a long post season is the same. Coming off a 4-0 weekend at home, they will also be faced with a tough schedule in Clearwater. Two batters, Victoria Valdez and Jourdyn Campbell are batting at least .600. Valdez is sitting at the top of the stats with a .636 batting average, 3 R, 7 H, 2 2B, 1 HR 6 RBI. Campbell has an even .600 with 5 R, 6 H, 2 2B, 1 3B, 7 RBI.

In the circle, they bring back every key arm in Sam Landry, Kandra Lamb, and Meghan Schorman. After the weekend, both Landry and Lamb have a 0.00 ERA, Landry in 9 innings and Lamb in 6, and they share one hit a piece. Schorman is the most elevated ERA at 1.75 in 4 innings with 4 hits and one run.

Stay Tuned

Match up previews for Arkansas and Alabama are soon to come for the weekend. I invite experts on each team to give us a look at what their squad has in store for the Seminoles.