Support, Family and Leadership Leads to Success with FSU Softball

By Cristie Chase and Melissa Powell

Whether it was finishing as the 2023 National Runner-Up in the Women’s College World Series, setting a program record of 12 student-athletes earning recognition on the All-ACC Academic Team or ranking in the 2022-23 Learfield Director’s Cup Standings for the sixth consecutive year, FSU Softball has been no stranger to success this past year; all of which is evident through their culture of family, leadership and women supporting women.

Coach Spotlight: Lonni Alameda

A photo of Coach Alameda

FSU Softball Coach Lonni Alameda greets fans.

Lonni Alameda, the esteemed coach of the FSU softball team, is well-known for her legacy of success throughout the Florida State community. With accolades like being named the 2023 ACC Coach of the Year, a recognition she received for five consecutive years from 2013-17, and securing the 2018 NCAA National Championship, her name is synonymous with achievement.

Coach Alameda’s leadership has led the team to numerous victories on and off the field. Her passion and enthusiasm were evident as she spoke about the culture of women’s sports at FSU, her team’s success and the positive and familial culture of the program.

“As a coach, you’re nurturing the team culture,” she said, reflecting on her experiences as a mentor and leader. “Realizing that athletes may come from different backgrounds, they must take the time to get to know and respect each other.”

One particularly emotional moment for Alameda was when former athlete Cali Barron spoke at a recent team function, serving as a reminder of the lasting bonds formed within the softball team. She noted, “You don’t know who’s in the room. Your teammate could be your future bridesmaid or the person present when your daughter is christened.” Coach Alameda is proud to see the core value of family reinforced year after year.

This culture of women supporting women on and off the field has bred success for Alameda and FSU Softball. She shared how inspiring it is to see “women support women” and how the unwavering support from former FSU athletes and the greater community fosters growth, opportunities and success.

“Success breeds success,” Alameda noted. “We’ve worked really hard, and we have a lot of people supporting us. I think that’s pretty incredible.”

Athlete Spotlight: Kaley Mudge

A photo of Kaley Mudge

FSU Softball player Kaley Mudge cheers on teammate.

Kaley Mudge is a standout FSU Softball player with accolades such as being a member of the 2023 NFCA Southeast All-Region Third Team, 2023 All-ACC Second Team and holding the WCWS record for hits in a single World Series.

Mudge shares in Coach Alameda’s appreciation for the family-like culture within FSU Softball. “Choosing FSU wasn’t a hard decision,” Mudge said. “I knew I was looking for a family-oriented program, and FSU was my dream school. When I finally got recruited, it was a big pinch-me moment.”

Mudge also highlighted Alameda’s role in supporting her personal and professional growth at FSU.

“I look back to who I was freshman year, and I don’t even recognize that person,” she said. “I’ve grown into the best version of myself, and I’m so grateful for everybody who has helped me with that.”

Mudge also shared her experiences with “women supporting women” within FSU Softball and other women’s sports at the university.

She recalled the close connections she’s formed with athletes on the beach volleyball team, mentioning that they even participated in a Bible study together. She expressed the joy of being able to support each other in various sports events and the sense of community and camaraderie it fostered. She praised FSU for promoting a unique atmosphere that prioritizes both family and community.

“It's surreal to be at such a big university but have such a tight-knit community within women's athletics,” she said.

Mudge recently had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to support fairness and equity for Name, Image and Likeness legislation, advocating for uniform guidelines and expectations.

“It's had a huge impact on me,” she said. “I wasn't a full-ride scholarship athlete.” The experience has allowed her to learn how to brand herself, work with various companies and cover expenses such as tuition, rent and other necessities while prioritizing her education.

“Coming into college, I didn't know how to earn money, how to save money or how to read a contract, and now that I’ve learned all these skills, I am better prepared for life outside of college,” she said. Mudge has been fortunate to have positive experiences with NIL deals and stresses the importance of caution and research when working with companies. She credits the leadership and guidance of Coach Alameda, her teammates and the FSU community for the valuable experiences she has gained in all aspects of life.

Both Mudge and Alameda are confident and excited about the successes to come as women continue to support each other within FSU’s athletics program and beyond.