5 things to watch this FSU softball season
We are just one day away from a new team taking the field in Tallahassee. Let’s catch up on what you may have missed in the off season, and what and who to look out for.
5. Pitching staff depth
Without a doubt, Kathryn Sandercock is the first name people think of when they think of the ‘Noles arms in the circle. Behind Sandercock there are six other arms that will be in the bullpen and used throughout the season. Emma Wilson and Mack Leonard return as veteran arms for FSU, while the class of 2022 brought in freshmen Makenna Reid and Madi Balk. In addition, Ali Dubois is coming off a redshirt season after transferring from Boston University, where she was the star not only for the Terriers, but in the Patriot League. They also bring in Allison Royalty as a transfer.
4. Transfer class
FSU brings in talented, experienced players out of the portal this season after coaching changes around the country prompted these players to find a new destination. Allison Royalty comes from Arizona State after two seasons with the Sun Devils. The right hander will compliment the rest of the staff, and brings a passion in the circle.
In addition to Royalty, Katie Dack was added during the fall after entering the portal in September. Dack began her first semester at FSU in January after spending her first year with the Aggies at Texas A&M. She burst on the scene as a slugger, and quickly became a candidate for SEC Freshmen of the Year. She brings SEC experience in multiple different positions such as catcher, left field and designated player.
3. Third base battle
The end of the 2022 season saw the departure of Sydney Sherrill, who was a staple at third base the last few years. With her graduation brings in an exciting time for the team, the journey to replace her. The fall was a time for a few different players to get reps at that position. Freshman Avery Weisbrook and Sophomore Krystina Hartley have been spotted at the hot corner in the offseason. However, Katie Dack has been listed on Seminoles.com as a third baseman.
Kalei Harding is the veteran player who is also up for the spot. As a junior utility, Harding has been mainly in right field, while also spending limited time at catcher and first base. Her experience in right and as a catcher gives her a great arm for the third base bag.
2. Designated player role
Last season we saw multiple players rotating in the DP role in the lineup. With the depth that Team 40 is brining into 2023, fans may not see the same player as the DP throughout the season. Transfers, freshmen, and more experience overall, the designated player slot will be an area of interest for FSU fans.
As said previously, Katie Dack has spent time as this player at her previous school, and with her power bat, she could very well be the answer.
Bethaney Keen, who is coming off an injury from last season, could be a player to look at as well. The USF transfer from 2021 was the first baseman to start the season in 2022, putting Mack Leonard in the DP. Keen showed herself early on last season as a team contributor.
Hallie Wacaser saw time in the outfield and as the DP in her redshirt freshman season. The Arkansas native only tallied one home-run last season, but has showed flashes of power.
1. Schedule Strength
It is no surprise that the Seminoles have a long and tough road ahead of them. After hosting a home tournament in Tallahassee, they will head south to Clearwater, where all six opponents (Arizona, Arkansas, UCLA, Louisiana and Alabama) who are ranked in preseason polls.
Another test will come for the spring break trip, as they head out to Oklahoma to face Oklahoma State in three games. On Tuesday March 14th, they will head into Norman to face the reigning back to back national champion, Oklahoma.
In ACC play, it will be another season of firsts. The ‘Noles will travel to both Duke and Clemson for the first time ever. They will look to remain undefeated all time against the Tigers as they head to Death Valley on April 6th.
A rematch of last seasons series with the Virginia Tech Hokies looms in Blacksburg on April 20th, then heading to back home to host Florida. Last season, FSU swept the Gators for the first time since 2006, and look to do it again with games on April 26th and May 3rd.
First pitch against the Lipscomb Bison is set for 6 pm on ACCNX on Thursday February 9th.