Friday, August 22nd, 2014

A Look Ahead At 2011 FSU Softball

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FSU Softball

Yeah, it’s been a while since I wrote about FSU Softball. Softball news in the middle of football season? Yes. Deal with it, it’s a BYE week and I don’t have much to say about FSU Football other than HEAL UP GENTLEMEN.

2011 FSU Softball Schedule Overview:

The One Word Feeling? Winnable. Glancing over the Seminoles’ schedule it appears that FSU should be on the road to another successful record and should compete again for the ACC Championship. Will they go beyond that? It’s too early to tell. Let’s dive in to the schedule a bit more.

Seminole Kickoff Classic – The opening season tournament at JoAnne Graf Field features St. Johns, UNC Greensboro and Hofstra. Only Hofstra received any votes in the final polls of the year. Opening games can be toss ups, especially if the weather is wet and cold in Tallahassee, but there’s no reason the Noles shouldn’t come out of the weekend undefeated.

Garnet And Gold Tournament – The next Tallahassee based tournament features Kentucky, Georgia Southern and Middle Tennessee St. Again, only one team received votes (Kentucky) in the final poll of the year. Kentucky could be the real thorn in the side of the Noles for this one, because  I think that the #2 pitcher(s) will come into play. A lot depends on which pitchers can step up behind Sarah Hamilton.

Cathedral City Classic – This Palm Springs based tournament will help show us how good, bad or ugly the Noles are in 2011. BYU finished last season ranked as high as #15 and San Diego St. received votes in the final polls. It’s also the first road trip of the season for FSU. Measuring stick time!

Big Ten – Mountain West – ACC Tournament – Honestly, I don’t have a ton of respect for Wisconsin or Utah. Neither were ranked last year, both had losing overall records and both are beatable by the Noles unless I’m way off base about their 2011 talent levels.

Spring Break – The Noles go on the road again for Spring Break. Taking on some better competition in Auburn, Penn State and Mississippi State, but the big game of that week is against Alabama, perhaps the best team in the country last season until they were shocked by Hawaii in Super Regional play. A win over the Crimson Tide will go a long way for FSU’s confidence headed into ACC play.

Rest of the Schedule – The ACC is always pretty competitive. GT’s loses their best player in Jen Yee, thankfully for FSU. The UNC Tar Heels will also compete for top billing. My big disappointment is that there is only 1 game against the elite Gators down in Gainesville on May 4. Looking over the schedule I don’t see a ton of reasons why FSU shouldn’t win 40+ games yet again. In fact, depending on how well the youth of the team responds and how ACC play goes the Noles could win 50. That’s great, although I’m not sure that 50 wins translates to anything when the NCAA playoffs arrive.

Final Questions

  • Who replaces Carly Wynn? I don’t mean just her stats either. It was obvious that Carly Wynn was a leader and motivator of the players. Who takes over that roll?
  • Can the Noles get better defensively up the middle? Stager and McConn move into their fourth year together at SS and 2B, so chemistry is not the issue.
  • Is Sarah Hamilton going to be Sarah Hamilton? Can she live up to her 2009 stats or will the 2011 ace of the pitching staff pitch more like 2010?
  • Who’s #2? Morgan Bullock? Dale Townsend? Illinois transfer Monica Perry? For years there’s been an obvious 1-2 punch for the pitching staff, this year there are multiple options and 1 will have to emerge for FSU to have success.
  • Where’s the power? The Noles always have a ton of speed, but are historically vulnerable to the elite teams with big bats because they don’t have a consistent one of their own.
  • Can the youth (only 6 seniors this year, with only 3 being likely regular starters and 14/24 players are underclassmen) overcome their inexperience?
  • Does the improvement continue behind Lonnie Alameda’s Noles? The bats have improved under Alameda’s staff, and in her first two seasons at the helm the Noles have made it to the ACC Championship Game and the NCAA tournament. Can they take the next step in either of those tournaments?

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