Feb. 17, 2011
By Scott Kotick, Seminoles.com
It’s amazing how one pitch can change everything.
From getting back to Omaha, to beating your rival in the College World Series, and even having everything crumble with just one cruel swing of the bat, baseball is just that kind of game.
Omaha has and always will be the ultimate goal, but the 2011 Seminoles are not satisfied, they’re definitely not content, and they want more.
“Last year, I think it was just more or less that we were content with just getting there,” junior pitcher Sean Gilmartin said. “This year, from my standpoint, eight teams can just get there, but it’s only one team that gets to win the whole thing. So this year, we’ve got to take that mentality.”
And the majority of the team that won an ACC Championship and earned its 20th trip to the College World Series in 2010 is back this season. Seven of the nine starters return and the starting pitching is back. That’s something that gives head coach Mike Martin a lot of confidence heading into opening day.
“One year we had five or six guys returning and it’s a great feeling, but we’ve got our whole lineup back with the exception of Holt and Cardullo,” head coach Mike Martin said. “And they’re being replaced by Tapley and Gonzalez.”
“It’s always tough losing a Cardullo and a Tyler Holt especially, but we’re excited to get started,” junior third baseman Sherman Johnson said. “We’ve got (Mike) McGee back, and he’s definitely one of our leaders, and Stuart Tapley back, and we’re definitely confident.”
And that confidence stems from getting Mike McGee back for another season. The John Olerud Award Winner and All-American utility player has returned to bring his leadership back to Tallahassee, and knows that having a wealth of veteran talent can only lead to great things in 2011.
“We’ve got a lot of seniors who have been here for four years who’ve had the experience that I’ve had, who I can rely on to help me out with some things,” McGee said. “But it’s different to be the veteran guy…it’s kind of weird because I feel like I just got here the other day.”
“Thirteen, something like that, seniors? There’s a lot, and a lot of them are going to get to play,” sophomore first baseman Jayce Boyd said. “A lot of them are going to be on the mound, a lot are going to be in the field, and just having guys like that is something to be said especially when you’re going into postseason.”
Perhaps the greatest strength of this year’s team may be the infield. With sophomores Jayce Boyd, Devon Travis, and Justin Gonzalez, along with junior Sherman Johnson, this has the potential to be the most outstanding infield Mike Martin has had at Florida State.
“It’s pretty incredible with the amount of guys out there who can pick it like they can,” Gilmartin said. “Everybody’s pretty dang good.”
“You get out here and watch Devon (Travis) and Justin (Gonzalez) up the middle, it’s pretty good,” Boyd said. “And then Sherman (Johnson) at third is just lights out.”
“We’ve got to be sure that we do the little things, stay healthy, and not fall in love with success or be devastated by failure,” Martin said. “We’ve just got to keep it even keel and understand that it’s a journey and not a sprint.”
And that journey to get back to Omaha starts this weekend against VMI. It’s just one pitch. But to the Seminoles, it’s the start of something great. It means baseball is back at Florida State.