Florida State coach Lonni Alameda knows what to expect this time of year: The Seminoles will host a regional featuring an SEC team, a quality mid-major and a quality No. 4 seed. And, yes, pitching and defense will be the formula to again get to the Super Regionals.
“It’s always a dogfight in regionals here,” Alameda said. “We know that. We’re excited for it.”
FSU (39-10-1) will host a four-team regional beginning on Friday afternoon. Auburn faces UCF at 2 p.m. (ESPN2) in the opener, while the Seminoles will play host to Kennesaw State (26-25) at 4:30 p.m. (ESPN3). The Seminoles split against Auburn, taking a 10-1 victory in five innings and losing the second one 2-1. They also defeated Kennesaw State 11-0 at Auburn.
“Both programs grew through their schedule just as we did, too,” Alameda said. “So there’s familiarity, but your freshmen aren’t freshmen anymore. Auburn’s got two really good freshmen pitchers, they’ve grown through the SEC season. Kennesaw State has an arm too that’s ghrown through their season.”
The double-elimination regional will conclude on Sunday, and the winner of the 2021 NCAA Tallahassee Regional will match up with the winner of the Baton Rouge Regional in the NCAA Super Regional round on May 28-30. If FSU wins its regional, it heads to LSU if the Tigers also win their regional.
Pitching, as it usually does this time of year, makes the difference. Kathryn Sandercock leads FSU with a 22-2 with a 1.20 ERA, with 124 strikeouts in 109.1 innings, and opposing hitters have just a .189 average. Caylan Arnold is 9-6 with a 1.66 ERA, with 124 strikeouts in 109.1 innings.
The ability to mix and match starters has helped the Seminoles keep arms fresh over the course of the season.
“I think a lot of teams can rely on like one or two pitchers but I think that it was so cool this year that we have such a talented pitching staff,” Sandercock said. “As far as my role, the whole staff has been talking with coach and working together and we’ve talked about how we’re all kind of able to contribute in different ways, whether that be starting or closing. And I think that every pitcher has gotten pretty good opportunities. I think that it’s just been really cool to be a part of and we’re all learning from each other. It’s been really fun this year.”
FSU also made the announcement on Wednesday that attendance at the Seminole Softball Complex will be moved to full capacity. Tickets will be available beginning on Friday at 9 a.m. on Seminoles.com or the FSU ticket office at 850-644-1830.
“I go back to some of our rookies,” Alameda said. “All they know is 20 percent of the fans, but one thing about softball is we always created our own energy. February was weird. You have 150 people in the stands. So that was even unique to now having, I don’t know, 3,000 people here yelling. The kids are super pumped. We found out 10 minutes before team meeting yesterday (Wednesday). And they were jacked. One, we don’t have to tell people ‘No.’ So many people have been reaching out to us, like, ‘Can we come?’ And our kids have had to tell people, ‘No.’ And that sucks. … They can actually come to the game.”
Game 1 – 2 pm: UCF vs Auburn (ESPN2)
Game 2 – 4:30 pm: Kennesaw State vs FSU (ESPN3)
Game 3 – 12pm: Winner Game 1 vs Winner Game 2
Game 4 – 2:30pm: Loser Game 1 vs Loser Game 2 (Elimination game)
Game 5 – 5pm: Winner Game 4 vs Loser Game 3 (Elimination game)
Game 6 – 2pm: Winner Game 3 vs Winner Game 5
Game 7- 4:30pm (if necessary)