CHARLOTTE, N.C.- Coming off of back to back NJCAA National Championships and returning a wealth of experience for the 2023 season, the Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers will begin the season ranked #1 in the NJCAA National Poll as released by the National Office on Monday.
FSW is coming off of a second straight National Title in 2022 as they went 56-6 overall and fought off five elimination games at the National Tournament to win the crown. The Bucs posted their second consecutive undefeated Suncoast Conference slate with a perfect 20-0 record and enter 2023 having not lost a conference game since March 14th of 2019, a span of 56 straight contests. Opposing teams won't delight in the fact that FSW returns a plethora of talent from last year's championship squad including three All-Americans and the National Tournament MVP. Leading the offensive returners is fourth year starter Feline Poot who has already shattered program records for doubles (34), home runs (37), and RBIs (165). The Bucs bring back a pair of All-Americans in the outfield in Shenita Tucker and Laura Vigna. Tucker hit .416 with 66 stolen bases as a freshman which ranked 3rd in all the NJCAA while collecting hits in 10 of 13 Buccaneer postseason games. Fresh off of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with Italy, Vigna hit .454 with 88 hits and 73 runs scored in 61 games while breaking the program's single season record with 24 doubles. The Bucs 2023 pitching staff will be led by 2022 NJCAA National Tournament MVP Belle Sardja. Sardja was lights out as a rookie last season for the Bucs, going 16-3 with a 1.31 ERA in 112 innings pitched. She pitched in the Bucs final seven games at the National Tournament, earning five wins and a save including wins in both championship games against McLennan.
Following in behind the Bucs in the preseason poll is the team they defeated in the championship game a season ago, McLennan, as well as Odessa, Seminole State (Ok), and Wallace State. The FCSAA is well represented in the poll with four Sunshine State squads garnering Top 15 recognition including the Bucs at #1, Pensacola State at #11, Central Florida at #12, and Chipola at #14.
The Bucs open their 2023 season on Friday in the Clearwater Kick Off Classic where they will take on in state foes Santa Fe, Northwest Florida, Pensacola State, and Seminole State in the two day event. The Bucs christen their new on-campus field next Monday, January 30th when they take on Florida National JV at 1:00.