FSU Baseball Season Preview

Haylee Blitch/NoleGameday

Opening Day is right around the corner and the ‘Noles are looking to finish just what they started last season. After a 46-23 record, an ACC Championship title and a trip to Omaha, Florida State will have some big shoes to fill to top all of their accomplishments from last season.

Something they can certainly all look forward to is trying to win at least 32 games. Why 32? Well, Head Coach Mike Martin is only 32 wins away from becoming the winningest coach in college baseball history.

Not that that should be a problem for the Seminoles as they have won at least 40 games for the past 40 seasons. Which by the way, no other school in the country even comes close to beating that record.

While these are all great accomplishments from last year, the new season will be here before we know it and they will be back to create even more success for themselves as this new and improved Seminoles team.

This year Florida State has around 20 players returning and will be joined by 15 new faces. Seven of those new young men are freshmen and the remaining eight are transfers, including one graduate transfer as well. This really stuck out to me because of how many new guys are joining the team this year. But, there’s no doubt in my mind that this offseason was mainly focused on team bonding and everyone getting to know each other on a more personal and playing level. If this team wants to be as successful as they traditionally are, they will need to fit these new pieces together well.

Baseball is an odd sport sometimes because in some way it’s very individualized. Yet at the same time, having that bond of a brotherhood rooting for you every time you step up to bat or even on the field is really important for the overall morale of the team. I think that goes for any kind of sports team, but I truly believe that the ‘Noles will really stand out from the others if they just continue to grow more as a family.

February 16th is opening day and Florida State will be taking on the Xavier Musketeers for their first home weekend series. They will stay at home until the 27th where they will travel to Jacksonville to take on the Dolphins of JU. After, they will return home for two more non-conference series against UNC Asheville and Kansas before opening up ACC play at Wake Forest the following weekend. Next comes the first of three matchups between rival, and defending National Champions, the Florida Gators in Gainesville. Some key matchups coming to Tallahassee will be UCF, Louisville, Duke, Miami and NC State. The ‘Noles will have to play in tough environments like UF, UNC Chapel Hill, and Clemson on the road. But, quite possibly the coolest thing Florida State will be doing this season is playing on the road at Boston College. Boston College holds their annual Strikeout ALS Game every April in Fenway Park, and it just so happens that FSU will be in town and have the chance to play at such a prestigious baseball park and all for the great cause of trying to Strikeout ALS.

Florida State’s schedule is not going to be an easy task, but being the defending ACC Champions definitely helps a lot. I know that this team is filled with talented players, and have a chance to really make some noise this year. The ‘Noles are starting the season ranked at No. 3 in the Baseball America Poll and No. 5 in both the and the USA Today Coaches Poll.

The most exciting thing for Seminole fans to look forward to is that all the pitchers that led them to Omaha last year, will be returning, including their entire weekend’s starting lineup. Tyler Holton, Cole Sands, and Drew Parrish will be headlining the weekend series. Along with pitchers such as Andrew Karp, Clayton Kwiatkowski, and Will Zirzow that are expected start during the week.

Florida State’s new players are all extremely talented. The freshmen joining the squad are standout players that will incredibly help FSU this season and also for seasons to come. I think we could definitely see quite a bit of playing time from freshmen such as Austin Pollock, CJ Van Eyk, Cooper Swanson, and Reese Albert.  Some transfer students to keep an eye out for would definitely be Mike Salvatore, a junior from Northwest Florida State College, and then Rafael Bournigal, a graduate transfer from Belmont University, who are both projected to be starting for the ‘Noles on Opening Day.

The expected starting lineup as of now is:

Catcher: Cal Raleigh

First Base: Tyler Holton/Rhett Aplin

Second Base: Rafael Bournigal

Shortstop: Mike Salvatore

Third Base: Drew Mendoza

Right Fielder: Steven Wells

Center fielder: JC Flowers

Left fielder: Jackson Lueck

Designated Hitter: Rhett Aplin

Weekend Pitchers: Tyler Holton, Cole Sands, Drew Parrish

All in all, there are a ton of things for Seminole baseball fans to look forward to for the upcoming season. Starting with Martin’s hope for breaking the record, all of the talented new players, and of course just the excitement that comes with it being baseball season. It has been a long-awaited eight months without baseball, and all of Martin’s squad is anxious to get back to work. They are determined to stay focused on making this a successful season and are hoping to get back to Omaha for the “Greatest Show on Dirt”. I think with all of the leadership that the returning players bring, and everyone’s longing to be great, this season will truly be one to remember for the Florida State baseball team.

Haylee Blitch
Writer at NoleGameday covering Football and Baseball. Media and Communications Studies major at Florida State University.

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