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FSU Baseball: First Pitch Invitational Preview

The Florida State baseball team, led by Coach Link Jarrett in his second year, has set high expectations for 2024. The goal is to make a run at an NCAA Regional and possibly even Omaha. The team is currently unbeaten with an impressive 7-0 record, which is the best start for the program since Mike Martin ended his 40-year head coaching career at Florida State in 2019. That was also the last season that the Seminoles made it to Omaha.

Coach Jarrett is no stranger to invitationals like this, as his teams played in similar tournaments during his time at Notre Dame. During that time, the Irish had an excellent record of 86-32 (.729), the second-best winning percentage in the country. By participating in the upcoming tournament, the Noles will have the opportunity to play in a competitive environment against Illinois (3-5), Michigan State (3-6), and Western Michigan (6-2).

Due to inclement weather in upstate South Carolina, where the tournament is being held, the original schedule had to be scrapped with Friday out of the picture. FSU will now play a doubleheader on Saturday and a total of three games in two days. Let’s look at what the Noles will be facing this weekend.


By the numbers

FSU starting pitcher: Jamie Arnold

Team preview

This will be the first time the Seminoles and Spartans have faced each other on the diamond. Michigan State sits at 3-5 on the season, and through eight games, the Spartans have a .286 batting average with 80 hits, including nine doubles, two triples, and eleven home runs. They recorded 50 RBIs and 56 total runs so far this season. The Spartans have a .450 slugging percentage and have struck out 80 times while walking only 29 times. They have amassed a .372 on-base percentage and are dangerous on the basepath with an impressive 93% success rate (14-of-15) on stolen base attempts this season. Senior outfielder Jack Frank is perfect on the basepath with six steals on six attempts.

On defense, the Spartans have an impressive .957 fielding percentage, with twelve errors over eight games. On the mound, their pitching staff holds a 5.95 ERA as a team, and over 68.0 innings pitched, they’ve allowed 74 hits, including eight doubles, two triples, and eight home runs. They’ve surrendered 54 runs (45 earned). This pitching staff walks a batter 46% of at-bats allowing 37 walks, while striking out opponents 80 times, and has hit fourteen batters and thrown eight wild pitches.

Players to watch

#1 Ryan McKay- Freshman second baseman Ryan McKay leads the Spartans in batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage. McKay boasts a .500 batting average, a .750 slugging percentage, and a .500 on-base percentage, while also having six hits, including a double, and triple, and has driven in two RBIs.

#46 Nick Powers- Senior left-handed pitcher  Nick Powers leads the Spartan’s pitching staff in innings pitched at 14.0. He has an ERA of 1.93 while holding a 1-1 record over two starts. He has allowed 13 hits, and 4 runs (3 earned) while walking two and striking out 11. Opponents are batting .265 against Powers on the season, with a pair of doubles, and zero triples,

Game 2) SATURDAY, MARCH 2ND AT 7:30 P.M. VS. Illinois

By the numbers

FSU: RHP Cam Leiter (2-0, 0.90 ERA) vs. IU: RHP Jack Crowder (0-0, 3.60 ERA)

Team preview

This will be the seventh time the Seminoles (7-0) and the Illini (3-5) have faced each other with the Seminoles holding a 6-0 lead in the series. The Fighting Illini have a team batting average of .231 with 61 hits, including eight doubles, zero triples, and fourteen home runs giving them a slugging percentage of .420 through eight games. They have recorded 40 RBI and 43 total runs on the season with 61 strikeouts while getting walked 32 times. They have a .328 on-base percentage, and when on the basepath, they are not much of a threat as they are only 1- of- 3 on stolen base attempts this season.

On defense, the Fighting Illini have an impressive .990 fielding percentage, with only three errors over eight games. On the mound, their pitching staff holds a 5.63 ERA as a team. Over 70.1 innings pitched, they’ve allowed 59 hits, including nine doubles, zero triples, and eleven home runs with 48 runs allowed (44 earned). The Illini pitching staff has struck out 72 batters and allowed 39 walks, with eleven hit-by-pitch and seven wild pitches. 

Players to watch

#17 Camden Janik – Senior catcher. Camden Janik leads the team in batting average ( .357) and on-base percentage ( .406). Janik has accounted for ten hits, including a double, and a home run, he has driven in five RBIs.

#34 Drake Wescott- Redshirt Junior first basemen. Drake Wescott’s .708 slugging percentage leads the team. He has produced six hits, including two doubles, and three home runs, and driven in five RBIs.


By the numbers

Pitching matchup tbd

Team preview

Sunday will bring another first-time match-up for the Seminoles, and the biggest test so far this season, when they meet the Western Michigan Bronsos (6-2) on the diamond. Through eight games, the Broncos have a .358 team batting average with 101 hits, including 14 doubles, two triples, and six home runs. Western Michigan is good and will provide Florida State with the best barometer they’ve had all season to gauge where this program is at. The Broncos have four players with a batting average of over .400 and five players with a slugging percentage over .500. They have scored 80 runs on the season which averages out to an impressive 10 runs per game. The Broncos have a .474 slugging percentage with 75 RBI. They have only struck out 50 times while walking 52, and have a .474 on-base percentage. They do not pose a big threat on the basepath with only three stolen bases in eight games.

On defense, the Broncos have an impressive .953 fielding percentage, with fourteen errors. On the mound, their pitching staff holds a 4.84 ERA as a team, and over 67.0 innings pitched, they’ve allowed 75 hits, including 16 doubles, zero triples, and five home runs. They’ve surrendered 48 runs (36 earned).

Players to watch

#36 Cade Sullivan- Senior first baseman. Cade Sullivan leads the team in batting average (.559), slugging percentage (.824), and on-base percentage (.643). Sullivan has 19 hits, including three doubles, and two home runs, and has driven in 13 RBIs.

#1 Grady Mee-Redshirt Junior middle infielder. Grady Mee is second on the team with a .448 batting average, while also holding a .586 slugging percentage along with a .579 on-base percentage, Mee has seven RBIs while having 13 hits, including one double, and one home run.


The Noles have dominated inferior competition over the first seven games, but this weekend’s slate should provide a tougher test to find out just how “for real” this team is. Western Michigan will be the best team that FSU has faced so far this season. At 6-2, the Broncos have two wins over in-state rival Michigan and a dominating series sweep over Pepperdine.

Michigan State may not look like much on paper at 3-5, however, they just run-ruled an 8-0 Georgia team in Athens. However, if FSU continues to play at the level they have throughout the first seven games, they should fare well this weekend.

Although none of these three teams are quite as tough as what FSU has coming up, it’s still a step up in competition. It will be the Noles first outing vs Power 5 opponents, and in Western Michigan’s case, the first game against a team with a winning record.

FSU’s schedule ramps up quickly in the coming weeks. They have games against Florida Gulf Coast (who won the series last year and just beat Miami), a top-5 ranked Florida team (twice), Stetson (who just beat Florida), and a top-10 ranked Clemson team. The First Pitch Invitational will provide us with a good idea of where this team is at before they head into the tougher stretches of their schedule. Thanks for reading and Go Noles!

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