TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State softball head coach Lonni Alameda has announced the 2017 recruiting class that signed their National Letters of Intent last month. FSU signed five players from five different states and once again rates among the finest classes in the nation.
“This rookie class will be challenged a lot as we will lose an amazing senior class this year,” said Alameda. “There will be a lot of expectation and excitement surrounding them and they are ready for that. Their skill sets will allow them to compete and contribute right away for us. Our coaching staff has been around these guys a ton in the recruiting process and is very comfortable around them and their families. It will be an easy transition for this class.”
Sydney Sherrill (Moore, Okla.) was the first to sign with the Noles and is regarded by many as the best player to come out of the state in some time. Sherrill led her Southmoore High School (6A) team to the state championship last month and finished the season with a .611 batting average on her way to being named The Oklahoman’s Big All-City Player of the Year. A third baseman by nature, Sherrill can play on the left side of the infield, as well as in the outfield. Sherrill has been invited to try out for the USA Junior team this winter.
“Sydney’s an extreme talent that can play multiple positions,” mentioned Alameda. “She has a competitive demeanor that will be huge for us coming into this team.”
The second player to sign was Mackenzie Puckett, an infielder from Cairo, Ga. Puckett is a left-handed hitter with power to all fields.
“Mackenzie is a smart, hardworking player that will bring a lot of depth to our lineup,” said Alameda.
Puckett hit a staggering .659 her senior season with 10 home runs and 39 RBI on her way to being named the Region Offensive Player of the Year for the Cairo High School Syrupmakers. Puckett said she wants to be a leader on the Florida State Softball team and a role model to younger players watching the game. She cited her parents as being the most influential people in her career, mentioning that, “without them I would never have had the love for the game that I do. Being 40 minutes from home means a lot to me and I loved the family atmosphere here at Florida State.”
Madison Kennedy, a catcher and outfielder from Baker County, Fla., was the next to sign for the Noles. She was a late pick up for FSU and said the chance to compete in the ACC and play in the World Series were motivating factors in choosing FSU. Kennedy broke the Baker County High School single season home run record with 12 while driving in 36 runs in 28 games played this season.
“Madison has great bat speed and power from the catching position, with the ability to shut down the running game with her arm,” said FSU assistant coach Travis Wilson. “We are very fortunate to pick up some one with her skill set so late in the recruiting process.”
Kennedy has been named to the Florida High School 5A All-State Teams the past two seasons and is poised for a monster senior season in 2017. Kennedy comes from a sporting family and says her dad Mathew has been the biggest influence on her career. She also plays for the Santa Fe Inferno travel ball organization.
The fourth new Nole is Rachelle (Rock) Benavides, an infielder from Corpus Christi, Texas.
“Not many people walk away from watching Rock play and don’t see the passion she has for the game,” Alameda said. “She encompasses a number of the core values of this team already and will be the glue that will make this freshman class work.”
Benavides has been a member of the Texas Bombers organization out of New Braunfels, Texas for a number of years and has played at the highest level in the travel ball circuit.
Scott Smith, the head coach of the Bombers, had this glowing report on her, “Rock is without doubt one of the best defenders our program has ever had. She locks down her position and allows us to position our defense around her. More importantly than her play she is the ultimate competitor and it feeds to her teammates around her. I can’t wait to see the amazing things she will accomplish at the next level. Florida State got a good one in Rock Benavides”.
Benavides said Florida State felt like home the moment she arrived on campus and that FSU assistant coach Craig Snider was outstanding during her recruiting process.
The final signee for the Seminoles is Savanna Copeland, a right-handed pitcher from Fishers, Ind. Copeland played her travel ball for the St Louis Espirit and her high school ball at Hamilton Southeastern.
“This coaching staff is extremely excited about Savanna,” said Alameda. “She comes in with a wealth of experience competing at high levels in club ball and the tools she has to compete right now are pretty exciting.” Copeland said the campus and the coaches were a few of the main reasons she chose Florida State and that her dad Don has been a big influence on her career. Copeland will player her final club ball season with the Chicago Bandits.
“She has a smooth pitching motion with some serious upside,” said Wilson. “From the moment I saw her, I knew she was our type of player. She’s going to flourish under coach Alameda’s guidance.”
While these players won’t wear the Garnet and Gold until 2018, the 2017 Seminoles have wrapped up fall team practice and are preparing to open the regular season on February 10 as FSU hosts the Unconquered Invitational.
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