TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It has been 247 days since the Florida State softball team won the 2018 NCAA National Championship and stood atop the mountain of the college softball world. But it is a new year, a new season and a new mountain to climb as Team 36 begins the 2019 season on Friday with the inaugural JoAnne Graf Classic.
The Seminoles will host UNC Wilmington, UNCG and Iowa State for the three-day weekend tournament to celebrate the historic NFCA Hall of Fame coach and foundation of the FSU softball program.
Dr. Graf won 1,437 games in her career, including 10 ACC titles and made seven WCWS appearances. She also helped lead the Seminoles to AIAW National Championships in 1981 and 1982. Dr. Graf earned her master’s degree from UNCG in 1978 and spent two years as the assistant softball coach for the Spartans (1977-78).
“Opening Day for everyone in the softball/baseball world is like Christmas morning,” said FSU head coach Lonni Alameda. “All the hard work that you’ve been putting in since the fall, all of the growth from the rookies and it is so much fun to be able to go through the season as a team. It will be fun to go out there against a team in another color uniform and see Team 36 compete.
“Coach Graf has been such an integral part of the game of softball in general, not just Florida State, and has helped grow the game from coast to coast. It is awesome to give her this excitement and honor to recognize everything she’s done for the game.”
FSU will play on Friday against UNC Wilmington at 3:00 p.m. and Iowa State at 5:30 p.m. The Noles face UNCG at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, along with Iowa State at 3:00 p.m. Florida State will close out the weekend on Sunday against UNC Wilmington at 12:30 p.m.
Florida State returns seven defensive starters and one starting pitcher from the 2018 NCAA National Championship team. Despite losing a pair of All-Americans in Jessie Warren and Morgan Klaevemann, the FSU offense returns 12 total players that combined to tally 399 hits, 306 runs, 94 doubles, 17 triples, 54 home runs, 289 RBI and 120 stolen bases. If those returners were their own team in 2018, they would have ranked in the top 35 in the NCAA in five different categories – doubles (T-7th), stolen bases (8th), triples (T-14th), runs (34th) and home runs (T-35th). Those players accumulated those stats as Florida State had the No. 1 RPI and No. 1-ranked out-of-conference schedule in the nation in 2018.
Meghan King will anchor the pitching staff after posting a 26-6 record with a 1.17 ERA in 2018, including a 4-0 mark and 0.20 ERA in the WCWS, as she was named to the WCWS All-Tournament Team. King is one of four returners that earned WCWS All-Tournament Team honors as she joins Sydney Sherrill, Anna Shelnutt and Elizabeth Mason.
Newcomers to the Florida State team include sophomore transfer pitcher Kara Bilodeau and freshmen Kathryn Sandercock, Makinzy Herzog, Savannah Parker, Morgan Noah and Maegan Tomlinson. Herzog (5) and Sandercock (12) were each ranked in the Top 15 of the FloSoftball recruiting rankings, as the Seminoles had five players that made their list. Sandercock (Virginia) and Herzog (Texas) were each named Gatorade Player of the Year for their respective states and Sandercock recently was named to the USA Junior National Training Team.
Live stats from all games this weekend, and throughout the entire season, will be available from the softball schedule page on Seminoles.com. Season tickets are still available, and single-game tickets for all February games are on sale now. Tickets for games in March and April will go on sale the first day of their respective month. For ticket information, go to www.seminoles.com/tickets.
Throughout 2018-19, the Seminoles will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of women’s intercollegiate athletics at Florida State and there are many events and reunions planned for all women’s sports. Head to www.seminoles.com/50th/ for more information that will be updated throughout the year.
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