March 8, 2007
#25 Florida State hosts FSU Invitational
Friday-Sunday, March 9-11 All Day
Tallahassee, Fla. JoAnne Graf Field & Messer Park
Bracket Play, TBA
First Pitch (What You Need To Know):
After two weekends on the road, the Florida State softball team is home to play host to its final regular season tournament of the year, the 2007 FSU Invitational.
Last season Florida State went 5-1 in the FSU Invitational on its way to the Silver Bracket championship. Pitcher Tiffany McDonald (Belfair, Wash.) and shortstop Yuruby Alicart (Maracay, Venezuela) were named to the All-Tournament Team.
The Seminoles started ACC competition last week by dropping 2-of-3 to defending champion NC State.
With already a no-hitter to her credit this year, sophomore pitcher Melissa May (San Diego, Calif.) threw a one-hit shutout in the 4-0 victory against the Wolfpack.
Florida State has dropped six of its last eight games, but all of the half dozen losses have been to teams either in the top 25 or receiving votes.
Outfielder Whitney Buckmon (Stone Mountain, Ga.) was the top hitter on the team last week as she posted a .412 average and stole a trio of bases.
Junior transfer Kelly Langston (Sopchoppy, Fla.) led the team with five RBIs and a .667 slugging percentage thanks to her first two home runs in a Seminole uniform.
Florida State Returns Home For FSU Invitational
After opening the conference portion of its schedule last week at North Carolina State, the No. 25 Florida State softball team is back at home for its first home weekend series in two weeks. The Seminoles play host to their last regular season tournament of the year when nine teams descend on Tallahassee Friday through Sunday for the Florida State Invitational. The ten-team tournament is played at JoAnne Graf Field as well as Messer Park with the championship game held at 2:30 p.m. at Florida State.
FSU’s Pool Features Orange, Panthers, Black Bears and Mountaineers
Florida State’s pool for the FSU Invitational includes two teams from the north and a pair of southern teams. The Seminoles (12-7 overall, 1-2 ACC) open at 1:30 p.m. on Friday with Syracuse (2-13), followed by a 4 p.m. Georgia State (14-9) game. Saturday’s action begins at 11 a.m. with Appalachian State (3-13) then Maine (7-4) immediately after at 1:30 p.m. The contest with the Black Bears can be seen on ACC Select. Bracket play begins at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and continues Sunday morning. The other pool features a pair of ranked teams in No. 18 Southern Illinois and No. 21 Georgia.
Seminoles Have Recent History With Pool Opponents
Friday’s meeting with Georgia State will be a rematch of last year’s opening round in the Silver Bracket of the FSU Invite in which FSU came away victorious, 5-2. It’s been two years since the Seminoles played the Orange and the Black Bears. Florida State actually dropped 2-of-3 to Syracuse in 2005, including one in the Sunshine State Tournament that the Orange went on to win. FSU took both games of a March 2 doubleheader off Maine, 1-0 & 5-2. Surprisingly, Saturday will be the first meeting with Appalachian State.
FSU Gives Away ACC Opening Series At NC State
The Seminoles had a chance to make an early statement as they took on defending league champion NC State to start the conference schedule, but they let the series slip away. FSU had leads in all three games and out-hit the Wolfpack 18-to-8 for the weekend, but dropped two of three. Thanks to a pair of home runs, NC State scored five runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take game one, 6-3. Melissa May silenced the Wolfpack bats with a one-hitter in game two for the 4-0 victory. FSU took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning of game three, but NC State scored three to win 4-2 and take the series.
May Day In Raleigh
Sophomore Melissa May was dazzling in her first ACC game since March 25 against Boston College, as she limited NC State to just one hit in the 4-0 victory over the Wolfpack. It was the first time NC State was limited to one hit since Tiffany McDonald did it last season. The left-hander has dropped her ERA to 1.43 – the third lowest in the ACC – and is vying for the number one spot in the rotation. During her five starts, May has a 3-1 record with 1.33 ERA in 31.2 innings of work. Since her return last year at Georgia, May has a 1.07 ERA and is limiting opponents to a .185 batting average.
Buckmon Coming Through At The Plate
Topping the Seminoles at the plate last week was junior outfielder Whitney Buckmon as she produced a .412 (7-of-17) average. The Stone Mountain, Ga. product had a hit in all five games last week including the NC State doubleheader where she had a pair of hits in each game. Her performance at the plate upped her average to a .340 for the year, which rates second on the team. Buckmon drove in her second run of the season as her double in the sixth inning of Sunday’s game scored Yuruby Alicart to put FSU up 2-1. The lefty slapper is third in the ACC with nine stolen bases.
Langston Finding Her Power Stroke
Last week junior transfer Kelly Langston started adding the long ball to her offensive repertoire as she cranked a pair of home runs as part of her team-high five RBIs. Her second blast of the week was a three-run home run in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader with NC State to give the Seminoles some insurance runs in the 4-0 victory. The Wakulla High School product moved from her normal spot at first base to play second while All-American Veronica Wootson went home to California to attend to a family matter. In her two games she had five assists, two putouts and one error.
Gilmore Coming On During Last Two Weeks
It’s been night and day for sophomore Jessica Gilmore (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.) the last two weeks compared to her first two in a Seminole uniform. Over the last 14 days, the left fielder is hitting .333 compared to just a .143 clip during her first two weeks. Just like she did at Georgia, Gilmore has gotten better as the level of competition has increased. Her average the last two weeks – which is second on the team behind Veronica Wootson’s .379 rate – has come against the likes of No. 19 Southern Illinois, No. 7 Michigan and No. 24 NC State.
Seminoles Facing Tough Competition
While the Seminoles are in a bit of a slide, having lost six of their last eight games, the defeats haven’t been to any cupcakes. All six of the losses have come to teams either ranked in the top 25 or receiving votes. Florida State could have easily turned that record around as four of the losses were by two runs or less and the Seminoles have had a lead in four of the six games. In addition, four of the defeats came on the road with the lone home losses coming against Michigan.
One Month In, FSU Off To Better Start Than 2006
Even though the Seminoles have hit a little bump in the road, the first month of this season is going better than last year that ended in the Super Regional. While Florida State is only one win better than this time last year, there are some telling signs that point to better things to come down the road. The Seminoles are hitting 38 points higher (.290-to-.252) and the pitching staff is doing much better as its ERA is down by nearly two runs a game (1.86-to-3.47). In addition, Florida State has a trio of neutral site victories, compared to 2006 when its third neutral site victory didn’t come until May 12 at the ACC Tournament
There’s No Place Like Home (Tournaments)
Returning for the FSU Invitational may be the perfect remedy for the Seminoles. FSU is 7-1 in its home tournaments this year with the title of the Seminole Classic and sharing the Sunshine State Tournament championship with Kansas to its credit. Florida State is hitting .348 as a team with a .426 on-base percentage and ERA of 0.98. The Seminoles have gotten no hitters from Tiffany McDonald and Melissa May in their first two tournaments. FSU was 12-5 in its four home tournaments last year with four of the losses to NCAA Tournament teams, including a pair to Michigan and one to Louisville.
Seminoles Have Many Ties To FSU Invitational Teams
There will be a lot of familiar faces at this weekend’s tournament for the Seminoles. Graduate manager Shawna Norris played for both Georgia and Syracuse. During the 2005 Sunshine State Tournament she went 5-for-13 with two runs and an RBI. Against FSU that year she was 1-for-8 with two RBIs. FSU and Georgia swapped players in the offseason as Jessica Gilmore came to Tallahassee while catcher Melissa Wood went to Athens. Freshman Courtney Rosen’s (Sugarland, Texas) older sister Jorden is a sophomore at Syracuse. Appalachian State’s assistant coach Amy Harrington was a graduate manager for the Seminoles during their 2004 run to the Women’s College World Series.
Free Passes Hurting Florida State
Given the number of tough teams Florida State has played of late, the Seminoles don’t need to give their opponents any more help. Unfortunately, the Florida State pitching staff has been issuing an unusually high number of free passes and they have resulted in runs. For the year, 15 of the 39 runs the Seminole staff has surrendered have been to batters who have been walked or hit by a pitch. That problem was particularly evident this weekend as NC State got six of its ten runs from walks. Tiffany McDonald walked the first two batters she faced in the fourth inning before Terese Gober gave up a home run. Gober herself walked two in the sixth then surrendered the game-winning home run.
Seminoles And Salukis Could Meet In NFCA Rematch
If Florida State and Southern Illinois meet during bracket play it would be a rematch of their Silver Bracket contest during the NFCA Leadoff Classic. With the exception of Florida A&M, last year the Seminoles were 1-3 in non-conference rematch games with their lone win coming against Connecticut along with two losses to Arizona State (Super Regional) and one to Michigan (Judi Garman). In 2005 FSU was 0-1 (a loss to Syracuse) and went 1-3 the previous year, beating Washington at the WCWS.
News and Notes:
The game between Florida State and Georgia State will feature the only two active head coaches — FSU’s Dr. JoAnne Graf and GSU’s Bob Heck — with their home fields named after them … Southern Illinois’ Katie Schmidt is from the same hometown (Millstadt, Ill.) as former Seminole All-American Casey Hunter … Florida State beat Maine in a pair of games during last year’s fall trip to New England … FSU’s Terese Gober played with Georgia State’s Lily Skelton at Union Grove High School in McDonough, Ga. … Southern Illinois was the 2005 FSU Invitational champion … The Seminoles have not won the FSU Invite since 2004 and that was their first Invite title since 1998.