Feb. 7, 2005
Following is the final piece to a series of weekly notes and quotes on Seminoles.com examining each Florida State softball player, position-by-position. The No. 10/11 FSU squad opens the 2005 campaign this week with a doubleheader at Florida A&M (Wed., 5/7 pm) before returning home this weekend to host the Seminole Classic. Today: Outfield, The ACC Expansion, At The Plate, The Schedule, and All-Americans
Florida State returns an outfield that had a stellar year in 2004. Considering that five of six different Seminoles that started last year are returning, the Tribe is stacked with one of the top outfields in the nation.
The one major loss is replacing the national player of the year, Jessica van der Linden, who was probably FSU’s best defensive outfielder. She and junior Carly Brieske split time roaming the field in center. Brieske had 38 starts and van der Linden recorded 36, respectively.
Junior Natasha Jacob in left field has started almost every game the last two seasons and has totaled just one error in her career. Many believe she should have garnered All-American honors last season.
Sophomore right fielder LaShaun Davis started 52 games as a freshman in 2004 and totaled just one miscue. Brieske showed how versatile she was last season with 48 starts between center and right.
Junior Carey Galuppi and senior Katie Fricke are also back. The two of them combined for 10 starts in right field last year. Speedy freshman Whitney Buckmon joins the outfield mix in 2005 and will compete for playing time in center as she is one of the most natural athletes on the team.
Last season, the six Seminole outfielders had 129 chances and made only four errors all season. That is a combined .969 fielding percentage by that group.
According To Associate Head Coach Louie Berndt:
“Obviously we’ve always had speed in the outfield, so we’ll continue to have success at that. The junior class has been there for two and a half years so they really know what to expect. I think the outfield might be one of our stronger assets this year.
“I feel that Natasha Jacob could have been an All-American last year and I expect good things out of her this season. She has an opportunity to be an All-American in 2005 as well as some other players. She is super fast, bats well, and is very reliable. In right field you have LaShaun Davis and Katie Fricke. LaShaun went through some ups and downs as a freshman, but this year she looks much more confident and I believe she is going to rebound. Katie is a power hitter and will be a back-up DH-type.
“In center field you have freshman Whitney Buckmon who learning to use her speed. She has a lot of weapons and will just need to learn how to properly use them. Carly Brieske is also out there. She is very experienced, strong defensively and a very vocal leader. Carey Galuppi is going to backing up Jacob and she is one of those that will come off the bench to add a spark. Carey is very versatile…she can play both left and right field.”
Florida State has captured the Atlantic Coast Conference championship 10 times in 13 years.
The Seminoles have played for the NCAA Regional title four times in the five years on top of advancing to the Women’s College World Series twice (2002, 2004).
Only four teams in the history of NCAA Division I softball have been to more WCWS than Florida State.
The Seminoles have been to the NCAA Tournament 17 times in the last 19 years.
According To Seminole Head Coach Dr. JoAnne Graf:
“Our postseason goals are ultimately the same every year. Our goal is to win the ACC Championship and national championship. Those are very lofty goals but that’s something at Florida State we work towards every season. We believe in that and structure our program around that.”
NC State’s addition to the ACC last year marked the first new softball team to play in the ACC since Maryland joined in 1995.
Virginia Tech joins the ACC schedule in 2005 and Boston College will be added next year as the conference will have doubled in size in a decade, going from four teams to eight. Tech registered a 36-23 mark in 2004 and went 2-2 against ACC teams (Virginia and Georgia Tech).
Also, in the new conference, teams will play a three-game series each weekend, with a doubleheader being played on Saturday and a single game contested on Sunday.
A change in the NCAA is the addition of the Super Regionals, like baseball already does. Sixty-four teams will still make the tournament, but instead of eight, eight-team regionals being played, now 16, four-team regionals will be played. Already bracketed, the 16 winners will advance to the Super Regionals, where two teams (played at eight different sites) will play a best-of-three series to determine the eight teams to play in the WCWS.
According To Coach Graf:
“The ACC has changed in a couple ways. First of all, you add Virginia Tech and then you go into a three-game series. This kind of reduces the number of games you can play other people outside the conference. So, that has changed our scheduling a little bit.”
As in year’s past, Florida State will face one of the toughest schedules in college softball. The Seminoles are scheduled to face eight-or-more games against 2004 NCAA Tournament teams.
Including tournaments, FSU could possibly face as many as 20 teams that played in the 64-team NCAA Tournament last season.
FSU plays in two of college softball’s premier tournaments, the 10th Annual Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga., Feb. 25-27, and Cal State Fullerton’s Kia Classic, March 18-20.
Six of the eight teams that participated in the Women’s College World Series played in last year’s Leadoff Classic, which was highlighted by record attendance. Twenty-four of the nation’s top collegiate teams return in 2005, highlighted by WCWS participants FSU, LSU, Michigan and Oklahoma. Twenty of the squads qualified for regional play in 2004.
Florida State heads to California for its final regular season tournament at Fullerton for the 2005 Kia Classic. The Seminoles are seeded in Pool D with three tough teams including Texas, Arizona and Long Beach State. Texas returns Olympic Gold Medalist pitcher, Cat Osterman, who took an Olympic redshirt last season and competed with the U.S. National team. The 49ers advanced to the NCAA Regionals and boasted of an impressive 51-13 record, and Arizona was the 2004 Pac-10 champions.
According To Coach Graf:
“”We have a really tough, strong schedule. Both the Leadoff and Kia Classic are the best tournaments in the country and this year will be no different. I think it’s important to play top teams early on so it gives us idea of where we are to give us time to make adjustments to get ready for conference and post-season play. I’m really excited about our team, schedule and this season. I like the variety of it and I think it will prepare us for postseason play.”
The 2004 squad excelled offensively and set new program records for RBIs (313), home runs (44), runs (369), and walks (252). They also made a valiant run at the triples (27) and batting average records (.288) where FSU finished fourth and sixth all time in each respective category.
Veronica Wootson is the sparkplug at the top of the order that made the 17th-ranked offense run last year. She finished the year ranked 12th in the nation in runs scored and 15th in triples, while setting new rookie records for runs, total bases and home runs. Behind her is Natasha Jacob who was third in team batting average last season, second on the team in triples, first in steals, and second in on base percentage. Lesley Palmer led FSU with 12 doubles (along with Beth Wade) and Palmer set new career-highs for at bats, runs, hits, doubles, and RBIs.
According To Coach Berndt:
“I think our hitters 1-9 will be tough to go against because our older players are a lot more experienced. By now they know what to expect. I feel like the newcomers will be able to come in and adjust very well. I truly believe we have one of the stronger lineups than we’ve had in the past if they all stay healthy.”
For the second straight year and just the third time in FSU softball history, the Tribe will begin a season with two current NFCA All-Americans on the roster.
Casey Hunter and Veronica Wootson both earned the accolade for the first time in their career during the 2004 campaign.
Wootson is the first freshman in Florida State history to be named an NFCA All-American during her rookie season.
According to Coach Graf:
“Casey and Veronica are the types of players who are never satisfied despite the honors they might have received. I know that each one of them understand that this is new year and they want to do whatever it takes for the team. They are All-Americans because they understand the passion and intensity you have to express for the game all season long. They are very mentally tough and tough for opponents.”