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NCAA Regional offers FSU a fresh start

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The postseason represents a fresh start for the Florida State baseball team.

What happened on a roller-coaster ride is now in the rear-view mirror. The Seminoles just wanted to hear that they had done enough to get into the NCAA postseason and have the highs and lows of 2019 wiped away with a clean slate.

“Season has been full of ups and downs so there’s been a few clubhouse meetings that we needed to hear just to keep us all in check,” said junior left-hander Drew Parrish. “It’s been a grind throughout the season. We just had to believe in ourselves and keep playing.

“Postseason baseball is a different animal in its own. We just kind of forget about everything that happened up to this point.”

Parrish will be on the mound when FSU opens the Athens (Ga.) Regional on Friday against Florida Atlantic at noon (live stream on ESPN3, WatchESPN app). It will represent a new opportunity for the Seminoles, who endured an inconsistent season but still pose a danger to the regional’s top seeds, Georgia and Florida Atlantic.

FSU has some long odds, fighting through a strong regional field. But it’s what the Seminoles wanted all along – a shot in the postseason.

“We have a chance to go to Omaha,” FSU coach Mike Martin said. “Is it a great chance? Well, any chance is a great chance. So we know that we need to play better than most of the year in order to achieve a goal.”

Parrish (7-5, 4.81 ERA) and sophomore right-hander C.J. Van Eyk (9-3, 3.74) have been up and down but give FSU a fighting chance in the postseason. The Seminoles have struggled to find any consistent No. 3 starter, which will be a monumental challenge in a condensed regional format. Martin will likely look to left-hander Shane Drohan or right-hander Conor Grady in a third game if the Seminoles get to Sunday.

FSU will also have to minimize the errors. The Seminoles committed 75 errors in 57 games, a trend that can’t continue in a regional.

“I think it’s just not pressing out there … just playing baseball, making the routine plays,” senior shortstop Mike Salvatore said.

FSU is flawed, hence the seeding. But the Seminoles have a pair of experienced postseason starters in Parrish and Van Eyk along with a lineup that features six regulars with an on-base percentage of .400 or higher.

The Seminoles are undoubtedly an underdog, on the road in an NCAA regional for the first time since traveling to Connecticut in 2010. But it’s also a fresh start, a mindset that could help the Seminoles on what they hope will be an extended business trip in the NCAA postseason.

“I love being the underdog,” Parrish said. “Going in, we have nothing to lose and only something to prove. There’s no pressure. We just get to go out and play.”

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