Four of the five Florida State softball seniors in 2020 are coming back to school in the fall.
In light of the shortened 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA has granted all student-athletes the opportunity to take an extra year of eligibility. Caylan Arnold, Cassidy Davis, Dani Morgan and Anna Shelnutt will return for an additional year, while Leslie Farris will graduate and pursue her professional career.
“They love playing so much that they feel as if life is around the corner and they have the ability to be in the real world and they don’t have the ability to always play team softball,” FSU coach Lonni Alameda told the Osceola. “They know it is very special and they wanted that chance. Even before we knew what we were going to do with scholarships, they were a part of wanting to be back.”
Arnold led the team this spring with a 1.40 ERA and four complete games as the pitcher finished with a 5-3 record, including wins over No. 1 Alabama, No. 21 Arkansas and No. 22 UCF. She tossed 60 innings and allowed 37 hits, 14 runs with just 10 walks and 60 strikeouts as opponents batted just .177 against her on the season.
Davis posted a .313 batting average and led the team at the plate with six doubles, five home runs and 22 RBI. She also added eight walks, two stolen bases and 13 runs. In the circle, she earned a pair of wins on Opening Day against North Carolina and No. 1 Alabama, and tallied seven total appearances on the season.
Morgan went 17 for 65 (.262) from the plate this season with three home runs, 17 RBI, four walks, four stolen bases and 14 runs scored. She was perfect defensively in the outfield with 16 putouts and one outfield assist. The Newnan, Ga., native hit a game-tying grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning against No. 1 Alabama on Feb. 7, as the Seminoles erased a five-run deficit to defeat the Crimson Tide 8-7 in eight innings.
Shelnutt only played in eight games of the 2020 season before suffering and injury on Feb. 15 against No. 23 Northwestern. She recorded a double, two home runs, eight RBI and three runs scored. She carried the Seminoles to an 8-0 victory over No. 1 Alabama with a three-run home run against 2019 SEC Pitcher of the Year Sarah Cornell on Feb. 8.
Farris graduates with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and closes out her career after making 136 appearances for FSU, including 46 starts in the infield. She finished with a .237 batting average, along with 36 hits, four doubles, five triples, five home runs, 19 RBI and 36 runs scored. In 2019, she hit an RBI triple and scored a run against No. 8 LSU and also went 2-for-3 with a run scored on the road at No. 12 Arizona. She was a member of the 2018 NCAA National Championship team.
Alameda said the NCAA has allowed for one-year relief in scholarship size but roster numbers and travel parties have not been settled for the 2021 season. A combination of athletics department funds as well as those from the softball team’s bullpen club have helped take care of the scholarship needs for the four seniors, Alameda said.
The roster will be “in a little bit of a bottleneck for a couple of years,” Alameda said. But at the same time, she says coaches have been honest with players and parents.
“As of right now, it’s been a very positive thing. And everyone realizes they are all in the same boat,” Alameda said. “This isn’t just a Florida State thing, this is an NCAA Division I thing. Everyone is dealing with it.”