The Daily Nole

Hot Take Tuesday: The ACC Field Has a Decent Chance to Unseat FSU Softball

Sara Davis/ACC

With the start of softball season just more than a week away, big things will again be expected of Florida State.

The Seminoles will begin the season ranked in the top 10 in virtually every poll and are just two years removed from a national championship. FSU will also be a healthy favorite to win the ACC yet again.

FSU has claimed the ACC title in each of the last six seasons. In 2020 however, it could be more difficult than in years past.

The Seminoles were the only ACC team ranked in the preseason NFCA Coaches Poll, which was released on Tuesday. Others however, such as Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Louisville received votes.

With names such as Sydney Sherrill, Elizabeth Mason, Anna Shelnutt and Dani Morgan, FSU will likely boast the best lineup in the conference. The question will be pitching.

The Seminoles will have to replace former Women’s College World Series hero Meghan King this season. That leaves a huge void. Tasked with filling that gap with be Kathryn Sandercock, freshmen, Cassidy Davis and Tennessee transfer Caylan Arnold.

There’s no shortage of talent there, but rising to King’s level won’t be easy. Sandercock went 13-0 as a freshman with a 1.99 ERA, but was forced to work out of damage often. Opponents as a whole, hit .251 against her last season.

Kara Bilodeau and Cassidy Davis each saw time in the circle for FSU last season, but combined for just 26 appearances. Bilodeau posted a respectable 2.39 ERA, but did not face the greatest of competition. Davis’ ERA was just below six.

Arnold will be a valuable piece for FSU coming from Tennessee. With the Volunteers last season, Arnold posted a 2.26 ERA and an 11-8 record, but did struggle in outings against stiff competition such as Florida, FSU, James Madison and Auburn.

Behind King’s left arm, Florida State breezed through last season’s ACC Tournament, outscoring opponents by a combined 17-0 score. The Seminoles capped their conference crown by run-ruling North Carolina in six innings, 8-0.

Although FSU was again queen of the ACC, its aura of invincibility did take a small hit. In early April of last season, the Seminoles lost consecutive ACC series at Louisville and North Carolina. Both series ended in walk-off fashion.

Prior to that, FSU had not lost an ACC series since 2012. The Seminoles finished the season with a 19-5 record in conference. While still very good, FSU was actually not the top seed in the conference tournament.

That title belonged to Virginia Tech, which went 20-4 in conference play. It marked the first time since 2012 that FSU failed to win the ACC’s regular season title.

While FSU will be the favorite this year in the ACC, it should be noted that Virginia Tech is returning three first-team All-ACC players. That’s two more than FSU. It also includes the 2019 ACC Freshman of the Year in Kelsey Bennett. The Hokies will have to replace ACC Pitcher of the Year, Carrie Eberle, who has transferred to Oklahoma State.

While FSU has won six straight ACC Tournament titles, they haven’t all come easy. In 2018, FSU was forced to rally from four runs down in the sixth inning to top Pittsburgh, 5-4. The year prior, the Seminoles held off North Carolina, 4-3.

If the pitching comes together as it very well could, FSU would be a contender to reach the Women’s College World Series. That’s not a given however. If FSU struggles from the circle, there’s a realistic chance that someone other than the Seminoles could earn the title of ACC champions for the first time since 2013.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at

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