The Daily Nole

2018 Preview: FSU Softball Seeks Return to Oklahoma City

Larry Novey/FSU athletics

After coming up one win shy of a second straight trip to the Women’s College World Series in 2017, Florida State softball begins a new chapter in the Lone Star State on Friday.

The Seminoles finished 55-8-1 a season ago en route to a fourth straight ACC regular season and tournament title. FSU breezed through the Tallahassee Regional before falling to LSU in the decisive game of the Super Regional series.

The Lineup
The name to know for Florida State is Jessie Warren. Now a senior, the third baseman was named by NFCA as a first-team All-America a season ago as well as ACC Player of the Year. Warren led the Seminoles in a number of key offensive categories including with a .413 average, 61 runs scored, 74 hits, 23 home runs and 68 RBIs.

Setting the table for the FSU lineup will be senior outfielder Morgan Klaevemann. A speedster, Klaevemann hit .410 a season ago with a .492 on-base percentage and 36 stolen bases. Like Warren, Klaevemann was a first-team All-ACC selection.

Some key players who have moved on for FSU include first baseman and 2016 ACC Player of the Year, Alex Powers, second baseman Ellie Cooper and catcher Sydney Broderick. Powers and Broderick were All-ACC first-team selections a season ago.

Aside from Klaevemann and Warren, other key returners include outfielder Carsyn Gordon and shortstop Cali Harrod. Gordon hit .321 last season with seven homers and 44 RBIs. Harrod also supplied power with nine home runs and 41 RBIs while providing some flare in the field.

As the year went along a season ago, young players like Dani Morgan and Anna Shelnutt showed tremendous improvement. Morgan was an All-ACC Freshman selection and the MVP of the ACC Tournament. Shelnutt was also a member of the all-tournament team. Morgan will likely own one of the outfield positions while Shelnutt will replace Broderick behind the plate.

Others expected to see time for the Seminoles this season include veteran outfielders Korina Rosario, a senior, and Zoe Casas, a junior. Speedster Deja Bush could be in the mix as well. On the infield, expect Leslie Farris, Cassidy Davis and freshman Mackenzie Puckett to fight for at-bats.

All-ACC performer and redshirt junior Meghan King is expected to lead the Seminoles from the circle. Last season, King went 27-3 with an outstanding 1.50 ERA.

The Seminoles will have to replace the conference’s reigning Pitcher of the Year in Jessica Burroughs, who was more of a strikeout pitcher than King. Fortunately, they have just the person to do that in Florida Atlantic transfer Kylee Hanson.

Hanson received a medical redshirt after suffering a season-ending injury for the Owls in 2017. In 2016, she was Conference USA Pitcher of the Year and a second-team All-American, according to NFCA. That season, Hanson was 28-5 with a nation-leading 0.76 ERA and 300 strikeouts in 221 innings.

Cassidy Davis was the only other FSU pitcher outside of Burroughs and King to throw more than five innings a season ago. She will likely be the third option for the Seminoles.

When it comes to talent, Florida State isn’t lacking. In fact, the Seminoles bring back more first-team All-ACC selections than any other school had a season ago. There are some question marks in the lineup like who will replace Powers and Cooper on the right side of the infield, but the Seminoles have a number of promising young players.

Jessica Burroughs won’t be easy to replace on the mound, but having a second-team All-American transfer in makes that prospect much simpler. That’s on top of King, who is already one of the best in the ACC and arguably the country. FSU has been picked to win the conference for a fifth straight year and is ranked No. 9 to begin the season by NFCA.

The Seminoles will play at least 54 regular season games this season. This includes match-ups with 11 teams ranked in the NFCA preseason poll. The first features a pair of match-ups against Minnesota on Feb. 16 and 17 and against Michigan on Feb. 17 and 18 — all in Tallahassee as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

FSU visits Alabama for the Easton Bama Bash on Feb. 23 and 24. On March 2, the Seminoles will host No. 3 Oregon as part of the Unconquered Invitational. FSU hosts a doubleheader against Louisiana-Lafayette on April 4. The first of two meetings against No. 2 Florida takes place in Tallahassee on April 11. The rematch in Gainesville happens on April 25.

The Seminoles won’t be facing last year’s and projected ACC runner-up North Carolina during the regular season. The Seminoles open ACC play from March 16-18 by hosting Virginia Tech. FSU begins the year against Portland State and then Texas State in the Bobcat Classic on Friday. The regular season ends on May 6 with the finale of a 3-game set against North Carolina State in Raleigh.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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