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The Florida State softball team finishes its homestand by hosting its fourth tournament of the season in the Sunshine Classic this weekend at JoAnne Graf Field. Florida State starts with Minnesota on Friday evening at 6 p.m. in a matchup that will be streamed on ESPN3.com.
The Friday night contest features play-by-play announcer Jonathan Schillace and former Seminole Robin Ahrberg on the call. The Seminoles (20-8) then play on Saturday at 4 p.m. against Georgia Southern and finish Sunday with a noon matchup against Minnesota and a 2 p.m. first pitch against Georgia Southern.
"This will be a tough test this weekend," head coach Lonni Alameda said. "There are two great pitchers coming in, with two different styles. We're going to face some good hard down-ball stuff and some good curve-ball stuff. We've got to really focus on that and keep doing what we're doing defensively and pitching-wise. We're pretty excited. It's nice to be home again and playing in your home park."
Florida State begins the Sunshine Classic riding a season-high 10-game win streak. During the win streak, Florida State has batted .326 as a team with 14 home runs while averaging seven runs per game.
Despite missing five probable starters due to injuries in both the fall and during the season, Florida State's offense has grown enormously this year. The Seminoles are batting .300 through 28 games this season. In 2012, Florida State batted .255 through its first 28 games.
In 2013, the Seminoles are on pace to break the school single-season home run record of 49 held by the 2007 team. Florida State has 29 home runs this season near the halfway point of the regular season. The Seminoles have homered in 16 of their 28 games this season, and broke an eight-game home run streak in Wednesday's 8-0 win over Tennessee State when none of their balls left the yard.
Florida State redshirt senior pitcher Monica Perry is coming off a no-hitter on Wednesday against Tennessee State in five innings, the first of her Seminole career. Florida State now has 11 no-hitters under head coach Lonni Alameda.
Juniors Courtney Senas and Kelly Hensley have their sights set on breaking the school single season record for home runs, which is 14 held by former player Yuruby Alicart. Senas has nine long balls while Hensley has eight. Ironically, both players have homered in the same game five times this season, including Feb. 20 at UCF, Feb. 22 vs. LIU-Brooklyn, March 5 vs. Presbyterian, March 9 at NC State and March 12 vs. FIU.
Senas is also in position to break the single-season RBI record at Florida State, also held by Alicart at 56. Senas has 33 runs driven in.
Halfway through the regular season, redshirt sophomore shortstop Maddie O'Brien has shown how fundamentally sound she is in the field. The infield captain has a .986 fielding percentage at one of the busiest positions in the field, recording just one error in 71 chances at the shortstop position.
Florida State's offense will be put to the test against Minnesota's Sara Moulton, who is 13-5 with a 0.99 ERA. The junior pitcher has 138 strikeouts and 24 walks in 113.1 innings pitched while holding the opposition to a .154 batting average. The Golden Gophers (13-9) own wins over Auburn and Florida Gulf Coast and have two close losses to Stanford.
Georgia Southern is 14-10 this season and owns a five-game win streak heading into the Sunshine Classic. The Eagles are led by the hitting of Shelby Morril, who is batting .366 with one home run and nine RBIs.
Chris Nee of 247Sports.com. You can follow me on twitter @CNee247.
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