The Daily Nole

Three Reasons Why FSU Softball Will/Won’t Repeat as National Champions

FSU athletics

In just a couple weeks, Florida State softball will begin its quest to become the first group of Seminoles to repeat as national champions since the men’s outdoor track and field team won three straight titles from 2006-08.

Getting back to the top won’t be easy for FSU, but many believe that it’s viable. The Seminoles will begin the season ranked in the top 5 after winning their first national championship as a fastpitch program. Here’s three reasons each why FSU will and won’t repeat as national champions:

Why FSU Will Repeat

1. Meghan King
The hero of last season’s Women’s College World Series returns as Meghan King comes back for a redshirt senior season. King is a 2-time All-ACC performer and had a record-setting postseason last year by recording the lowest ERA ever at the Women’s College World Series. King will carry the workload for FSU from the circle and as long as she’s healthy, FSU will have a chance to win every contest. King posted a 26-6 record and 1.17 ERA last season.

2. Veteran Group
Whether or not Florida State can repeat as national champions remains to be seen, but the Seminoles have the core group of players who got them there returning. Of the 10 players in the starting lineup during the title-clinching game last season, eight of them return. Carsyn Gordon, Cali Harrod and Zoe Casas will provide a senior presence. Junior catcher Anna Shelnutt and sophomores Sydney Sherrill and Elizabeth Mason all had big postseason moments last year. Sherrill led the nation in doubles en route to being named ACC Freshman of the Year.

3. Relatively Easy Path to a National Seed
Florida State’s prowess as a program cannot be understated, but as a softball conference, the ACC still lags behind the likes of the SEC and Pac-12. While there may be a smaller margin for error, the Seminoles have a relatively easy path to a conference title and national seed. Having the path to the Women’s College World Series go through Tallahassee certainly makes things easier.

Why FSU Won’t Repeat

1. No Clear No. 2 in the Circle
Meghan King is one of the best pitchers in the country, but in recent years, the Seminoles have had two solid pitchers. As good as King has been, it was actually Florida Atlantic transfer Kylee Hanson who claimed ACC Pitcher of the Year honors last season and it was Jessica Burroughs who claimed that honor the year before. Cassidy Davis posted a 1.85 ERA in 34 innings last season, but whether she can be relied on in pressure-packed situations remains to be seen. Freshmen Kathryn Sandercock and Makinzy Herzog could also be candidates to take some of the pressure off King.

2. Loss of Jessie Warren
Florida State was an outstanding team top-to-bottom last season, but third baseman Jessie Warren was the unquestioned leader of the Seminoles. Warren was the ACC’s all-time leader in home runs and RBIs and came through in huge situations down the stretch last season, including the diving catch-turned-double-play that helped sink Washington in the first game of the national championship series. FSU is still very talented, but filling Warren’s shoes won’t be easy.

3. Lack of Tests
The reason why Florida State has an easy path to a national seed could also be the reason why FSU doesn’t make another deep postseason run. As always, FSU will play a tough non-conference slate, but the ACC won’t lend as many tests for the Seminoles as a better conference would. As the NCAA Tournament nears, the majority of FSU’s competition will be against the ACC. Last season, Florida State became the first ACC team to win a softball title. Prior to that, no ACC program had ever reached the national championship series. FSU could enter the NCAA Tournament less battle-tested than its competitors.

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

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