2011 FSU Softball Starts Friday
Posted by William Kristoph
As most of you well know, a large part of my FSU fanaticism involves the softball and baseball teams in addition to the football team. I love all of my Noles, don’t get me wrong, but I have a passion for those three sports mainly. Since football season is long over, and the hoopla that so many follow call National Signing Day is past us, it’s time to enjoy the upcoming spring with the two sports than signal warmer temperatures, better weather and the daydreams of summer. It’s time to get ready for the two marathon seasons that require deeper dedication, in my opinion, to enjoy and follow than football. It’s time for softball and baseball.
For the FSU Softball team, excellence is a standard. The Noles compete for the ACC Championship and a spot in the NCAA Tournament nearly every year. Head Coach Lonnie Alameda did a great job of modernizing the program over the last few years (pregame routines were one obvious place to my casual eye) after Dr. JoAnne Graf retired. Alameda’s Noles continue the standard of pitching set by past Seminoles, but also turned around the FSU bats which have improved (to the tune of a nearly .300 AVG last year, sabermetricians can stop yelling at me for using AVG) each season under Assistant Coach Angel Santiago. This should be another fun group to watch, especially early in the season since Head Coach Alameda and crew are not afraid to throw some younger players into the fire to see how they perform. Last year’s example, Tiffani Brown, was a true freshman that stepped up to play 3rd base with poise. Oh yeah and she hit pretty well too, posting a .328 average (5th with a .773 OPS for you stat heads).
So how good or how far is my beloved softball team going to go? As a fan, I’m hopeful for a trip to Oklahoma City for the WCWS of course. Is that realistic? As usual, the answer is, “it depends.” The Noles are certainly capable. They can hit well. They need to find someone to pick up where Carly Wynn left off. They need some key power. Most importantly they need quality pitching (like every other team). They have an established ace in Sarah Hamilton, but Hamilton is coming off of a strong but off-for-her year in 2010. Why? I’m not sure honestly. To me, at the games I attended last year it looked like a comfort thing in the circle. Whether it was pitch selection or type, mechanics or just that other teams figured her out a little bit I’m not sure. What I am sure of, is that Hamilton will step up in 2011 to lead the Noles to a lot of victories.
The bigger question mark is that she obviously can’t throw every inning. In year’s past there’s been someone like a Tiffany McDonald behind a Casey Hunter that you know was stepping into the #1 role the following season. Is this year’s #2 and next year’s ace Monica Perry a redshirt Junior transfer from Illinois? Is it redshirt Freshman Dale Townsend? Morgan Bullock? Jessica Nori? In one sense, it’s nice to have the problem of having a lot of arms on the team that are capable. In the other, by the end of 2011 not only will one of them need to step in as the main option behind Sarah Hamilton but by 2012 TWO of them will need to carry the full load.
Anyway, I’m getting way ahead of myself talking about 2012, right? Back to reality. There’s talk about how much the Noles will miss Carly Wynn not only in CF, but in leadership and at bat too. While, I agree that Carly was a very special player, losing players is also part of college sports. Four years is all anybody has and new players step into roles. This year will be no different. It may not be at CF or it might, but either way there will be big hits, big plays and leadership coming from the team. I feel like this season is going to be similar to last when all is said and done, lots of wins, competition for the ACC Title and perhaps a berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Opening Day is only 5 days away. The Noles take the field for the first time in 2011 at 12:00pm on Friday to face UNC-Greensboro and following that game the Seminoles will take on St. John’s. Stop by, check out some softball if you haven’t before. You’re close to the action, it’s fun and it’s FREE. Go Noles!