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Softball to honor seniors while remaining focused on ACC title push

A rare tie in softball prompted Florida State to slip, by a fraction of a point, to second in the ACC regular-season standings.

FSU coach Lonni Alameda wasn’t mad about the 11-inning scoreless tie at Louisville on Sunday, which came at the end of a rain-filled weekend and was necessitated by travel curfew back to Tallahassee. But when the big picture could focus on an ACC Tournament title and then what’s to come in the NCAA Tournament, Alameda reinforced the importance of seeing the Seminoles at the top in the ACC during the season.

“Regular season champion means so much to me, you’ve done it week in and week out,” Alameda said. “You’ve done it for two months, two and a half months. You’ve grinded it out and figured out how to win. It’s that whole marathon mindset, right?”

FSU (33-7-1) is 21-3-1 in ACC play, just behind Clemson at 26-4 and with winning percentages that are as close as possible (the Tigers’ .867 to the Seminoles’ .860). Now FSU has a chance to keep pushing toward the best mark in the ACC in the coming weeks against NC State (24-17, 14-15 ACC) this weekend. A road series with Pitt (16-27, 11-22) will follow before the ACC Championship begins on May 12 at Louisville.

The Seminoles will honor their seniors with an on-field ceremony on Sunday, which is part of a big weekend of plans. FSU administrators and local health officials have relaxed the COVID protocols to allow for more fans and parents will be a part of the ceremonies honoring students. Among those who will be honored are super seniors Dani Morgan, Caylan Arnold, Anna Shelnutt and Cassidy Davis as well as senior Elizabeth Mason (she could opt to return in 2022).

“We’re one of those teams that likes to do a lot of social events and we haven’t been able to do a lot of that,” Alameda said. “It’s a player’s weekend. We’re tying it all into one weekend. Saturday will be alumni day. And then Sunday, senior day. 

“We got approved to be able to have our parents on the field, socially distanced. So they’ll still walk out, they just won’t walk out together, but they’ll be able to be a part of that. And then we’re doing a little senior send-off ceremony in the outfield of baseball Saturday night. Everyone’s socially distanced on blankets, but at least we can play a little tribute video to them on the baseball scoreboard since you can’t do much on our scoreboard and just create some little bit of gathering normalcy for us together.”

Kathryn Sandercock (18-1, 1.14 ERA, 75 strikeouts in 104.2 innings) and Caylan Arnold (9-5, 1.51 ERA, 105 strikeouts in 88 innings) have put the Seminoles on firm footing from the mound, putting them in position to win. Alameda again praised FSU’s trademark pitching and defense while pointing toward some good weekends at the plate of late.

Sandercock’s consistency has stood out to Alameda.

“From first weekend out she hasn’t altered at all in preparation,” Alameda said of the redshirt freshman. “After every single game, she’s in the office, watching video, taking notes, debriefing her day, and how to plan for the next day to get better. She’s consistent on her approach on her Tuesday, Wednesday bullpens. She knows what she wants to do. I’m not telling her what to do. She comes to me. ‘This is what I want to work on. This is how I do things.’ And that’s been over time. The consistency has been the big key for her.”