Jan. 16, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) - Another season of high expectations gets into full swing on Thursday, Jan. 17 when the Florida State softball team begins pre-season practice in preparation for the upcoming 2013 season.
With nearly every starting position player returning, all of its pitchers from a season ago and a talented freshmen class, this year's edition of Florida State softball has the makings of being the most talented in head coach Lonni Alameda's five-year tenure.
"Like every season, we're very excited to get practice underway to see how much we can progress as a team before our first game of the season," Alameda said. "There is a ton of talent at all positions on our roster and we are going to work as hard as possible to maximize that talent and achieve our goals this upcoming year."
Headlining the returnees is Florida State's accomplished crop of pitchers that finished first in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 10th nationally in earned run average last season. Redshirt senior pitcher Monica Perry and sophomore thrower Lacey Waldrop both finished in the Top 30 in ERA last season, while Perry held a 22-6 record and Waldrop finished 19-5.
Both reliable relievers return in redshirt junior Jessica Nori and sophomore Bailey Schinella. Both pitchers tied a single-season school record with four saves apiece last season, providing quality relief in several late-game situations. Adding to the pitching core will be freshman Jessica Burroughs, who gives the Seminoles plenty to look forward to in the near future.
All of the infield comes back from a year ago, starting with National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Region player Tiffani Brown. She batted .301 with four triples, 43 stolen bases and 44 runs scored a year ago. Shortstop Maddie O'Brien was the team's top run-producer a season ago, while senior Briana Hamilton (12 home runs) and junior Kelly Hensley round out the corners at third and first base, respectively.
Freshmen Victoria East and Kaitlin Allen will also be battling for time in the infield. Sophomore Erika Leonard and junior Celeste Gomez return at the catching position, with the addition of talented freshman Macey Cheatham competing for time.
Florida State's group of outfielders is the deepest aspect of the team. Centerfielder Courtney Senas is coming off a season where she nearly halved her strikeout totals, while senior Kirstin Austin broke through with her bat by leading the Seminoles in hitting in conference play. Senior Morgan Bullock provides great speed to the starting lineup, as well as the addition of two freshmen in Alex Kossoff and Stephanie Hartness.
The Seminoles begin the season with the Panhandle Invitational on Friday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. against Florida A&M at JoAnne Graf Field. Florida State is in search of its 12th Atlantic Coast Conference title and will have the opportunity to win it in Tallahassee with JoAnne Graf Field being the host site of the conference tournament from May 9-11.
Be sure to follow the Seminole softball team on its official Facebook page (Facebook.com/FSUSoftball) as well as on Twitter at @FSU_Softball.