2024 TaxAct Clearwater Invitational Preview

The Florida State Seminoles softball team had an impressive showing at the JoAnn Grafe Classic, finishing with a record of 4-1. However, Coach Alameda and Team 4One still have some questions to address, particularly in the pitching department. Looking forward, the Seminoles will be competing in the 2024 Shriners Children’s Clearwater Invitational from February 15th to 18th in Clearwater, Florida. The competition will feature some tough and familiar opponents for the Seminoles, including Stanford, UCLA, Georgia, and Tennessee, promising thrilling matchups for softball fans.

#9 Stanford FEB. 15 AT 4 P.M/ESPNU.

By the numbers

Team preview

The Stanford Cardinal softball team ended last season with a 47-15 record and was eliminated by the would-be World Series Champion Oklahoma Sooners. It returns a ton of talent and is predicted to be the favorite to win the Pac-12. The Cardinal return three talented sophomores on their roster: pitcher NiJaree Canady, infielder Taryn Kern, and infielder River Mahler, who have all been named to the preseason All-Pac-12 Team. Their performance will undoubtedly be crucial to the team’s success in winning the Pac-12 and returning to the College World Series. Kern is a transfer from Indiana and is known for her powerful bat and ability to hit home runs, something that the team lacked last season.

Players to watch

#24 NiJaree Canady, Pitcher– NiJaree had an outstanding freshman season, and won the TUCCI/NFCA, D1 Softball, and Softball America Freshman of the Year honors. She was also selected for the All-Pac-12 First Team and WCWS All-Tournament Team. NiJaree led the nation in ERA (0.57) and strikeouts per seven innings (11.3) and was second in hits allowed per seven innings (3.32). She had a record of 17-3 in 33 appearances, including two no-hitters in 24 starts. Currently, as a sophomore, NiJaree leads the NCAA in strikeouts with 33 through three games. At the SDSU Season Kickoff, she went 1-1 in two starts and recorded a save in her relief appearance.

So far this season NiJaree has an impressive 0.43 ERA in 16.1 innings pitched so far, allowing only four hits and one earned run. She has also walked just two batters while striking out 33 and opposing batters have hit just .074 against her. Canady has been named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week for the fourth time in her career.


By the numbers

Team preview

UCLA and Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez are known for assembling a formidable team every year to vie for the national championship. This year is no exception, as the UCLA Bruins possess a talented roster that is expected to advance to the Women’s College World Series. Over the weekend, the Bruins played against three teams, losing to No. 5 Texas (5-0) and No. 11 Oklahoma State (5-0) by a combined total of 23 runs, but defeating San Diego (0-5) at Easton Stadium. In both of their losses, the Bruins played all seven innings once, with the games ending in run-ruled fifth-inning finishes.

The Bruins are also facing the same challenge that the Seminoles are facing and that is with their pitching. Several of their top pitchers from last year are gone which accounted for 85% of its pitching production from last season, with only rising sophomore Taylor Tinsley returning for the Bruins., which means that they will need to rely on some new players.

Players to watch

# 7 Maya Brady Shortstop– Brady had an amazing 2023 season, as one of the top three contenders for the Player of the Year award, and was named Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year. Last season Brady had a batting average of .448, a slugging percentage of .866, and 33 extra-base hits, which was the best record in the conference. She started her season in center field but later moved to shortstop. Brady was second in the Pac-12 for runs batted in (59) and home runs (18), with four multi-homer games in a single season. She became the fourth Bruin ever to do this and the first since B.B. Bates in 2013. This season, she has struggled with a .385 batting average, a .462 slugging percentage, 1 extra-base hit, and in 13 plate appearances with only 3 RBIs to show.

#28 Alexis Rameriez C– Rameriez so far, this season has been the hot bat for the Bruins hitting .455, with a  .818 slugging percentage, 1 extra-base hit, 1 home run, and 2 RBIs.


The UCLA game presents a great opportunity for the younger pitchers on the team to gain some valuable experience. The Bruins have struggled to get their offense going so far this season, and the Noles should take care of business in this one. However, for the Noles to win their first two games and start 2-0, it going to be an uphill battle.

In the first game, they will face NiJaree Canady, one of the toughest pitchers in the country. To be honest, even David would have loved to have NiJaree’s rise ball against Goliath, and Hector could have used her sidespin against Achilles at Troy. Last season, she faced the best team in the country and allowed only 2 runs (1 earned) on 4 hits while striking out 7 Sooners in 5 innings. She even struck out Jayda Coleman, Tiare Jennings, Kinzie Hansen, and Alyssa Brito, who were Oklahoma’s quartet of .400 hitters, at least once.

NiJaree is one of the hardest-throwing freshmen I’ve ever seen, and she can make even the best lineups look like they are struggling. If the Noles want to win game one, they’ll need to figure out a way to tire her out by forcing her to throw more pitches, pushing her deep into innings, and making her work harder.

The Clearwater Invitational is always a gauntlet of tough teams that will put each other to the test, but this is how you find out what you have for the stretch of the season. Thanks for reading and Go Noles!

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