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The Florida State softball team looks to continue its momentum in conference play as it travels to Maryland for a three-game set beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday, March 30, at 1 p.m. at Robert E. Taylor Stadium. The final game of the series starts on Sunday at noon.
The Seminoles (26-11, 5-1) have won their first two conference series of the season, sweeping NC State on the road on March 9-10 and winning two of three last weekend at home against preseason favorite North Carolina. A series victory over the Terrapins (16-16, 3-0) would mark the second time the Seminoles have won their first three ACC series since the conference expanded to its current amount of teams in 2006.
The only other season in which Florida State has won its first three ACC series was 2012, when it won its first six conference series until losing two of three at Maryland to end the regular season. The Terrapins spoiled Florida State's chances of an ACC regular season title last season, winning a 4-3 game in 10 innings in the rubber game to help give North Carolina a No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.
"It's certainly fresh in our minds what happened up in Maryland last season," head coach Lonni Alameda said. "Maryland always seems to play well at home and has given us fits in recent seasons. We have to stick with what makes us a good ballclub and execute everything we're trying to do. This weekend is another opportunity for our team and a chance to go on the road on a long trip and come away with a big series win."
Florida State's short-term memory will be in effect after losing a gut-wrenching game at No. 3 Florida on Wednesday by a 7-3 score in eight innings. Despite an incredible 18 strikeouts from sophomore Lacey Waldrop, Florida State's 3-1 lead with two outs in the seventh inning did not hold up as the Gators used a walk-off grand slam in the eighth to defeat the Seminoles for the 10th straight time.
Despite the heartbreaker and a season full of key injuries, the Seminoles have put themselves in prime position to earn their 14th consecutive NCAA Regional bid if they can sustain their solid play over the second half of the regular season. Florida State boasts the nation's 23rd-highest RPI, while Maryland is at 111.
The Seminoles have lost their last two regular-season series against Maryland, falling to the Terrapins last season and losing two of three in 2011. In last year's 4-3 comeback win over Maryland in game one of the series, redshirt junior pitcher Jessica Nori earned the win after throwing 3.1 scoreless innings in relief.
Florida State is 43-13 all-time against Maryland dating back to their first game played in 1996. The Seminoles are 11-8 on the road against the Terrapins and 29-13 as ACC opponents.
Maryland is off to a 3-0 start in ACC play after defeating Virginia at home last weekend in a three-game sweep. Nikki Maier leads the Terrapins with a .341 batting average and seven home runs while Lindsey Schmeiser is first on the team with 35 RBIs. Maryland is batting .270 as a team.
Pitchers Maddie Martin and Kaitlyn Schmeiser have handled the bulk of the load in the circle. Martin is 7-7 with a 3.56 ERA and has 51 strikeouts in 74.2 innings. Schmeiser is 6-7 with a 3.86 ERA and has 58 strikeouts in her 83.1 innings of work.
Florida State's games this weekend will be on CBS GameTracker. Fans can follow the Seminoles through in-game updates on Twitter at @FSU_Softball.
Chris Nee of 247Sports.com. You can follow me on twitter @CNee247.
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