April 26, 2001 - by
17th-Ranked Seminoles Battle Second Place Virginia With Automatic NCAA Bid On The Line

April 26, 2001

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Despite the fact that the national pollsters keep the Seminoles outside of the nation’s top 15 every week, there is ample evidence that suggests the 17th-ranked Seminoles should be higher. After four weeks of top 5 rankings for the FSU pitching staff, pitching coach Heather Compton’s group reached No. 1 as the Seminoles pulled into a tie with Arizona for the nation’s top pitching staff with a 0.691 ERA. FSU also moved form 8th to 6th in the nation in winning percentage (.870) and Florida State currently has the country’s eighth best batting average at .309. No. 1 Arizona is the only team in the nation ranked ahead of FSU in all three categories (Tied with FSU in pitching (No. 1), second-best winning percentage (.920) and the nation’s best team batting average (.349).

Three FSU pitchers are ranked in the nation’s top 23 for ERA this week. Senior Jen White-Stokes has the nation’s eighth-best ERA (0.55), junior Leslie Malerich is 14th with an ERA of 0.73 and freshman Jessica van der Linden’s ERA of 0.85 ranks 23rd.Florida State is the only team in the nation with three top 25 pitchers and only three other schools even have two top 25 pitchers. Senior All-American Serita Brooks is 12th in the nation in stolen bases with 0.73 swipes per game.

Although this is the last year of the South Atlantic Softball Alliance (SASA), the membership (five ACC schools and East Carolina) is showing that this is a league to be reckoned with. The SASA currently ranks with some of softball’s toughest conferences in recently released conference statistics. The SASA has the third highest batting average of any conference (.266), the third lowest ERA (1.39) and the third most strikeouts per seven innings (5.82).


Team            Overall    SASA   vs. FSU      ACC
Florida State    47-7      5-1     na          3-1
Virginia         49-13     5-3     0-0         4-2
North Carolina   30-17     5-3     0-2         4-2
Maryland         34-16     1-3     0-0         1-3
Georgia Tech     23-26     2-6     1-1         2-6

RBI A’Plenty

The 2001 Seminoles are chasing the 1992 squad for the most RBI ever in a season. This year’s team has 232 RBI so far and the 1992 College World Series team had 288. For the first time since 1992, the Seminoles have eight players with 17 or more RBI in a season. The 2001 Seminoles have four players with 30 or more RBI for only the fourth time in the past ten seasons: Monique Marier (32), Brandi Stuart (31), Robyn Gauger (30) and Jessica van der Linden (30). They also have six players with 24 or more RBI in a single season for only the fourth time in the past 10 years also: Kimmy Carter (26) and Jen White-Stokes (24). Florida State will play AT LEAST eight more games (Virginia x2, Troy State x2, Maryland x2 and the ACC Tournament) as they pursue the all-time RBI record.

Nine Would Be Fine

The Seminoles longest winning streak of the year is nine games and they have equaled that on three occasions. Florida State is currently on an eight game winning streak and would have to sweep Virginia this weekend to break their season high. FSU has won 23 of the last 25 games and outscored their opponents 148-23 over that stretch. In the last 28 games, only three opponents have scored more than 3 runs against FSU.

What A Week

Last week was one of the best of the season for this 2001 Seminole squad. Besides the 5-0 record, FSU recorded its first-ever sweep of the Gators, head coach JoAnne Graf notched win 1,100 on Florida’s home field and the Seminoles scored 18 runs in 12 innings against an ECU team that came into Tallahassee with a 41-18 record. FSU batted .382 as a team, recorded 49 hits, 10 doubles, two triples and three home runs while holding their three opponents to a .132 batting average, 14 hits, one double and no home runs. The Seminoles hit .426 with runners in scoring position and .524 with a runner on third base and less than two outs. Half of FSU’s 30 RBI came with two outs. The Seminoles were deadly in the middle innings (third, fourth and fifth) where they outscored their five opponents 30-0 with a majority of the damage coming during the fourth inning (20-0).
The Seminole pitching staff held ECU, UF and FAMU to a .132 batting average with runners on base, a .062 average with two outs and had an unbelievable strike out to walk ratio of 5.65 to 1.35 for the week.


Junior Kimmy Carter is on the verge of nailing down the season’s longest hitting streak. She has hit safely in eight straight games and tied the streak set earlier in the season by Elisa Velasco. Senior All-American candidate Jen White-Stokes currently has a 14 game winning streak going and she hasn’t dropped a decision since Februrary 23 when she allowed just one run in a 1-0 loss against Illinois. White-Stokes is now 17-2 after starting the year with a 3-2 record.

No Difference

Although FSU only sees a left-handed pitcher about once in every eight at bats, their stats are eerily similar against lefties and righties. As a team, Florida State is hitting .310 against right-handers and .308 against southpaws. They have a .368 on-base percentage versus lefties and a .375 on-base percentage versus right-handers. Florida State is hitting .333 with runners on against left-handers and .348against righties. Their average with the bases empty is almost identical also (.273 vs. left and .267 vs. right) and with runners in scoring position (.353 vs. right and .364 vs. lefties). There are a couple of places where there is a distinct difference. FSU is slugging 60 percentage points higher against right-handers (.425 vs. .365) and with a runner on third and less than two outs the Seminoles are hitting 266 percentage points higher against righties (.516 vs. .250).

The One and Only

What a month it has been for Jen White-Stokes. Since April 2, White-Stokes has been named an NFCA Outstanding Performer, ACC Pitcher of the Week twice, ACC Player of the Week twice, SASA Pitcher of the Week twice and SASA Player of the Week. She also stands alone when you look at the nation’s top hitting pitchers. White-Stokes currently has the nation’s eighth-best ERA (0.55) and no player in the top eight ERA’s has a higher batting average than her .362 average. Only one pitcher in the top 15 has a higher batting average the White-Stokes (FAU’s Nicole Meyers has an ERA of 0.57 and a batting average of .393).

I Like the ACC

Four of the Seminoles last six games are against ACC teams and FSU’s chance to garner an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament will be decided by how well they perform in this crucial stretch at the end of the regular season. Brandi Stuart has led FSU offensively all season long and the same holds true in conference games. Stuart is hitting .385 in conference games with three runs scored. Kimmy Carter and Robyn Gauger are each hitting .364 and slugging .455. Jen White-Stokes is leading the team with five RBI, one home run and a .500 slugging percentage.

A League Of Their Own

The Seminoles are currently leading the ACC in 21 of 54 individual or team statistical catagories and FSU players are in the top 3 in 13 of 23 possible catagories.

No. 1   Team Batting    .309    No. 1  Innings Pitched    364
No. 1   Slugging        .423    No. 1  Fewest Hits        177
No. 1   Triples         19      No. 1  Fewest Runs        54
No. 1   Stolen Base %   92%     No. 1  Fewest Earned Runs 36
No. 1   ERA             0.69    No. 1  Strike Outs        294
No. 1   Wins            47      No. 1  Complete Games     46
No. 1   Fewest  Losses  7       No. 1  Shutouts           28
No. 1   Fewest Walks/7  1.63

No. 1 ERA Jen White-Stokes 0.55 Malerich 2nd & van der Linden 3rd

No. 1 Opp. Average Jessica van der Linden .109 White-Stokes 2nd and Malerich 3rd

No. 1 Runs Allowed Jessica van der Linden 15 White-Stokes 2nd and Malerich 3rd.

No. 1 Earned Runs Allowed Jessica van der Linden 10 White-Stokes 2nd and Malerich 3rd.

No. 1 Wins Leslie Malerich 18 White-Stokes 3rd.

No. 1 Stolen Bases Serita Brooks 38 Stuart 2nd with 25.

University of Virginia (49-13, 5-3)

Easily the biggest series of the ACC and SASA seasons as the first-place Seminoles and second-place Cavaliers play for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Cavaliers are having one of the best years in recent memory and just completed a perfect home season (18-0). UVa has won 12-straight games as they head into Tallahassee. Virginia has also won four consecutive ACC games after starting the year with a 0-2 record in the ACC.

As a team, Virginia is having an unbelievable season at the plate. Cavaliers are all over the ACC leader boards: three of the ACC’s top four hitters, four of the top five leaders in hits, two of the ACC’s top four home run hitters, four of the conference’s six leaders in runs scored, the top doubles hitter in the conference, two of the top three triples hitters, four of the top six leaders in steals, four of the top five stolen base leaders, four of the conference’s top five RBI producers and leaders in total bases, the ACC’s top two on-base percentage leaders, the top three slugging percentage leaders, two of the top three strikeout leaders and two of the top four saves leaders.

Virginia is led at the plate by reigning ACC Rookie of the Year Ruby Rojas and junior Kristen Dennis. Rojas is hitting .393 for the season with 11 doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 37 RBI. She is slugging .596 and has 106 total bases on the season. Dennis’ average isn’t quite as high as Rojas (.389) but she has three triples, a team-leading 11 homers, an ACC-leading 47 RBI and a conference high .723 slugging percentage.

Dennis is also having a fantastic season on the mound for Virginia. She is 17-5 with a 1.05 ERA, 18 starts, 15 complete games and two shutouts. Erin Allinder is second on the team with 23 appearances, 16 starts, 11 complete games and four shutouts with a 1.99 ERA. Virginia has four pitchers with more than 15 appearances and the staff ERA is 1.56 with 15 shutouts and 44 complete games.

The Seminoles and Cavaliers met five times last season with Florida State taking four of the five matches. Three meetings came in the ACC Tournament where FSU dropped the first game before beating Virginia twice on the final day to capture its sixth-straight conference crown. FSU won four straight games against UVa last year due to a scheduling quirk that sent the Noles on the road to Virginia two days after the teams played for the conference tournament title in Tallahassee. Junior Leslie Malerich pitched four of the five games against UVa last year and posted a 3-1 record. Florida State only faced one pitcher currently on the UVa staff last year. The Seminoles downed 2001 ace Kristen Dennis 3-1 last season.

Troy State University (32-30, 7-7)

The Seminoles and Trojans have already met once this season but nobody should read too much into FSU’s 11-0 win at the Tallahassee Democrat/Florida State Invitational Tournament. Troy State played very well leading up to its final game against the Seminoles, which was played in a heavy rain on a soggy Messer Park field. The Trojans represented themselves very well in Tallahassee. Despite going 0-4, TSU dropped a one-run game to Maryland (5-4), a 4-3 decision to No. 22 UMass and a 2-1 loss to No. 21 Michigan. Troy State also went to Georgia Tech and swept the Yellow Jackets (2-1, 4-0), which the Seminoles were unable to do earlier in the season.

The teams have played seven common opponents (Georgia Tech, Maryland, Connecticut, Mercer, Georgia State, Jacksonville State and Florida Atlantic) and TSU is 4-9 while FSU is 12-2 against those teams. TSU swept Georgia Tech and was swept by Maryland for a 2-2 record in the ACC, which would be good enough for fourth place. The Trojans finished sixth in the TAAC this season and will face No. 1 seed FAU in the first round of the conference tournament slated to begin Thursday May 3, 2001.

Senior Renie Mitchell is TSU’s leading hitter with a .321 batting average. She has eight doubles, four home runs and 21 RBI on the season while slugging .444. She is followed closely by junior third baseman Mindy Porep who is hitting .317 with a double and 12 RBI. The two biggest power threats for Troy State are senior Bridget McInnes and senior Kami Marrot. The two have combined for 12 home runs and 44 RBI this season. The two also lead the squad in slugging percentage with Marrot slugging .464 and McInnes slugging .452.

The Seminoles will likely see TSU’s No. 1 starter Kim Unkenholz this weekend. Unkenholz lost a heartbreaker 2-1 to No. 21 Michigan at the Tallahassee Democrat/Florida State Invitational but the Seminoles didn’t get a chance to face her in their tournament match-up with TSU. The junior left-hander is 16-8 with a 1.17 ERA she has 20 complete games and nine shutouts in 161 innings of work. She has a 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio and opposing batters are hitting just .194 against her. Florida State saw No. 2 Cassie Wilkerson when the teams met in Tallahassee and the Seminoles were able to score 11 runs, eight of which were earned, in five innings against the sophomore from Miami, FL (Miami Sunset HS). Wilkerson is 12-8 on the year and boasts a 2.48 ERA. She has appeared in 25 games with 24 starts and 15 complete games. She has two shutouts on the season with 60 strikeouts and 50 walks

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