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FSU softball preview: Mix of veterans and newcomers

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The Florida State softball team is a blend of veterans and newcomers.

Just how well those freshmen and transfers fit in – and how quickly – will answer how the Seminoles perform in 2020.

FSU returns 11 players, including a core of stars like third baseman Sydney Sherrill, first baseman Elizabeth Mason, catcher Anna Shelnutt and outfielders Dani Morgan and Cassidy Davis. But the Seminoles also welcome 11 newcomers for the season, which begins on Friday at home against North Carolina (3:30 p.m.) and preseason No. 1 Alabama (6 p.m.).

“Excited to jump into the deep end with Team 37 and get the season started,” said FSU coach Lonni Alameda. “We love to open the season with the JoAnne Graf Classic to honor someone who has been so important to this program, this university, and the sport of softball as a whole.”

FSU is the preseason favorite to win the ACC based on voting by the league’s coaches (they weren’t allowed to vote for their own team). The Seminoles received all 13 first-place votes, with Virginia Tech picked second.

Starters with big bats and experience will be up and down the lineup. No. 5 Sherrill and No. 18 Morgan were named preseason All-Americans by Softball America. Four other Seminoles were in Softball America’s top 100, including Mason, Shelnutt and pitchers Caylan Arnold and Kathryn Sandercock.

Here’s how FSU could line up this weekend:

P – RHP Caylan Arnold and RHP Kathryn Sandercock: Arnold was 11-8 with a 2.26 ERA in 2019 at Tennessee. She has transferred to FSU for her senior season. Sandercock was 13-0 with a 1.99 ERA last season.

C – Anna Shelnutt: Hit .293 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI in 2019. Is known for her clutch hitting, earning her the nickname “Postseason Anna”

1B – Elizabeth Mason: Hit .343 with 11 home runs, 15 doubles, 57 RBI and scored 55 runs in 2019

2B – Leslie Farris and Morgan Noah: Farris started 25 games, hitting .254 in 2019.

SS – Josie Muffley and Devyn Flaherty: Muffley is a Tulsa transfer who will be a sophomore in 2020, while Flaherty is a freshman

3B – Sydney Sherrill: Led the team in batting average (.405), home runs (16) and RBI (60) last season

LF – Kiersten Landers: Took a redshirt in 2019.

CF – Dani Morgan: Second on the team with a .377 batting average and also had 14 home runs with 58 RBI

RF – Cassidy Davis and Kaley Mudge: Davis hit .309 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI.

DP – Chloe Culp and Kaia LoPreste: Both are true freshmen

After this weekend’s tournament, FSU plays four of the nation’s top 15 next weekend in the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational – No. 2 Washington, No. 7 Minnesota, No. 15 Northwestern and No. 4 UCLA.

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