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FSU softball to face toughest regional field

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The road hasn’t always been smooth. Especially not when everyone wants to beat the defending champion.

But the Florida State softball team has put itself in ideal position – at home in an NCAA Regional as a national seed – as the Seminoles prepare to make a run at a return to the Women’s College World Series.

“We won a national championship and then nobody knew what we would do this year,” FSU coach Lonni Alameda said. “I didn’t know what we would do. I’ve never won a national championship. I didn’t know what it would be like. It’s been emotional. There are expectations and as much as we try not to feel them and talk about them we’ve really tried to figure out how our journey is going to be.”

Alameda wasn’t sure what the Seminoles would do but they’ve achieved quite a bit in the regular season and topped it off with a sixth straight ACC title. FSU (51-8) is the No. 4 national seed, capturing a top-8 seed for the fifth time in six seasons.

The Seminoles open the postseason at home for a sixth straight year, taking on Bethune-Cookman (26-29) on Friday at 2:30 p.m. on ESPNU in their first game of the double-elimination Tallahassee Regional. South Carolina (36-17) and South Florida (40-17) will face off at noon on SEC Network in the regional opener.

“This regional is going to be competitive all weekend long,” Alameda said. “Bethune-Cookman can really swing it and they get after it. USF has had a great year and South Carolina is battle-tested in the SEC. It is going to be a dogfight and that’s what you expect and what you want this time of year.”

FSU is 28-2 at home this season, including a 3-0 mark in the ACC tournament.

If FSU defeats Bethune, the Seminoles will play on Saturday at noon. The losers of Friday’s games will play at 2:30 p.m., with an elimination game between the one-loss teams to come at 5 p.m.

Two good notes

The Tallahassee Regional is the toughest in terms of average RPI by the top three seeds. FSU was four, followed by No. 20 South Carolina and No. 31 USF.

FSU has played 13 teams that reached the NCAA postseason and compiled a 19-7 record. The Seminoles have wins over No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 7 Minnesota, No. 10 LSU and No. 12 Tennessee. They split with No. 5 Florida and went 2-1 at No. 6 Arizona.

A closer look at FSU

Top hitters: Sydney Sherrill (.426, 15 HR, 55 RBI, 58 runs), Dani Morgan (.382, 13 HR, 55 RBI), Cali Harrod (.361, 14 HR, 67 runs), Elizabeth Mason (.358, 11 HR, 55 RBI), Carsyn Gordon (.353, 12 HR) and Zoe Casas (.341), Makinzy Herzog (.312), Anna Shelnutt (.281, 10 HR).

Top pitchers: Meghan King (29-5, 1.36 ERA, 207 strikeouts in 185.2 innings), Makinzy Herzog (9-2, 1.66 ERA, 54 strikeouts in 67.2 innings), Kathryn Sandercock (11-0, 1.92 ERA, 45 strikeouts in 80 innings).