ACC Season Outlook

 

The Seminoles have been dominant in the ACC winning the Conference title the last two seasons. The Noles return 12 players from the 2015 squad that finished 49-14 on the season and  reached the NCAA Super Regional round for the third consecutive season and ranked No. 10 in the final poll by both the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and USA Softball.

Florida State has to replace 2014 National Player of the Year winner in pitcher Lacy Waldrop who now with the Chicago Bandits in the NPF and shortstop Maddie O’Brien who also is playing in the NPF. The Noles will look to The 2015 ACC Tournament MVP Jessica Burroughs  to be the ace of the Noles. Burroughs  went 19-6 last year with a 2.08 ERA and 219 strikeouts and was named on USA Softball Top 50 players watch list.

Jessica Warren looks to build on a freshman season where she led the team with 19 home runs and 57 RBI and was named the 2015 ACC Freshman of the Year.

The question is who can challenge the Noles?  Last year the ACC had 6 teams in the NCAA tournament. Notre Dame hosted a regional as 16 national seed last season and return strong nucleus of the team and figureds to be the biggest threat to Florida State.

North Carolina will be led by Kristen Brown who figures to be a high draft pick in the NPF barclay_-_marshallDraft in April. Tar Heels Head Coach Donna Pappa hired in the off-season Chelsey Barclay to handle the pitching staff. Barclay coached the pitchers at Cal Poly and Marshall where she coached Andi Williamson who now pitcher in the NPF with the USSSA Pride.

Other teams to be in the mix include Pittsburgh who made it to ACC Tournament obrien-angelachampionship game last season which help them get into the ACC Tournament. North Carolina State made the Super Regionals last year but will have to replace ace pitcher Emily Weiman who won 31 games for the Wolfpack last year.  Virginia Tech will look to continue to extend on NCAA tournament streak as the Hokies have made it 4 straight years have a young offense will be depedent on pitching staff that returns 2 starting pitchers and have freshman Olivia Lattin who coached by asst coach Angela Tincher.

In the Circle podcast, Eric Lopez and Victor Anderson spoke with Justin McCleod of Justin’s World about the outlook for the ACC in 2016. Some of the topics discussed were as follows :

  • Can FSU get back to Oklahoma City?
  • Who is biggest threat to the Noles in the ACC?
  • What impact will Chelsey Barclay have on the Tar Heels?
  • Can the ACC duplicate 6 teams in NCAA like last year?

In the Circle Podcast : ACC Preview

Players to Watch According to Justin McCleod :

– Kristen Brown, North Carolina – Brown may be the best-kept secret in all of college softball. Did you know she was not only an all-American, but a top 25 finalist for National Player of the Year a season ago? Most seem to glaze over her name in favor of the headline-grabbers like Chamberlain, Romero, etc. but any and all would be remiss to look past Brown in consideration for the best players in the nation in 2016. She owns a career .346 career batting average, as well as the UNC career home runs mark. She led the conference in home runs, RBI, and slugging percentage last season and is one of the increasingly-less-rare power-hitting middle infielders. She should have an excellent chance to reach the pros this summer, though she’s likely to add a few more trophies and awards in college first.
– Shelby Pickett, Pittsburgh – The redshirt senior and former Ohio State Buckeye hit .350 a year ago in her first playing season as a Panther (she transferred prior to 2014, but sat out that year due to an injury). She’s got some pop in her bat and I think she could have a career year this season. She’ll be someone the Panthers can lean on to lead their offensive attack if they are to fulfill my prediction and get back to the postseason.
– Allie Rhodes/Rachel Nasland, Notre Dame – You might not find this duo on any lists of dominant pitching staffs nationwide, but they are a solid 1-2 punch in the circle for the Irish. Rhodes had a breakout campaign a year ago, recording a 20-5 record with a 2.81 ERA. Nasland went 17-9 and opponents hit just .207 against her in more than 180 innings of work. The duo complement each other well and pose a real problem for opposing offenses. If they can continue their high-level consistency of a year ago, they could help the Irish go places themselves in the postseason. 
– Victoria East, Florida State – A two-time all-conference selection, East suffered a down year in 2015. Moving from starting first baseman to primarily a corner outfielder had an effect on her production, as did a diminished amount of playing time. She has shown an ability to play extremely well at this level of the game, and if she can find her groove and return to the form of her freshman and sophomore campaigns, the ‘Noles may have no choice but to find a spot for her in the everyday lineup.
Eric Lopez Projections for NCAA Tournament Teams in ACC- 4 Teams
Florida State
Notre Dame
North Carolina
Pittsburgh

You can check out the Previews of Other Conferences :

Big Ten Preview Right Here

Pac 12 Preview Right here.

SEC Preview right here.

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