April 22, 2005
:: Leading Off ::
Florida State softball plays perhaps its most important series of the season this weekend against ACC opponent Virginia on JoAnne Graf Field at the Seminole Softball Complex. The Cavs (7-4 ACC, .636) are second in league play while the Seminoles (8-6 ACC, .571) slightly trail in third place. If Florida State wins the series, it will most likely earn the coveted No. 2 seed entering the ACC Championship. Georgia Tech paces all ACC teams with a 9-2 ACC mark. The Seminoles, winners of their last three outings, enter this weekend with a 29-18 overall record while the Cavs, who have won five of their last six games, are 23-26 on the season. The games against Virginia are also the last ACC games for the Seminoles before the ACC Tournament. The ACC Tournament begins May 12 in College Park, Md. “Virginia is going to be good,” Head Coach JoAnne Graf said. “They are going to fight for that No. 2 seed just like we are. I think all three games will be close.” For the Garnet & Gold, leftfielder Natasha Jacob appears to have broken out of her mid-season slump. During her slump, Jacob’s batting average plunged over .100 points. But through the last eight games Jacob is batting .422 and is riding an eight-game hit streak. “We have to have our leadoff hitter get on,” Graf said. “If she gets on we have good hitters behind her who can hit her in and if we can score first we are going to win most of our games.” The first pitch of the doubleheader on Saturday is slated at 1:00 p.m. followed by a Sunday finale beginning at 1:12 p.m. The Florida State athletic department will say goodbye to the Senior Class of 2005 on Sunday as the four members play their final game on JoAnne Graf Field. Festivities will start at approximately 1:00 p.m. This weekend is all about the fans as the softball program does their part to thank each and every member for support this year. On Saturday, the first 250 fans in attendance will receive a mini-inflatable bat and Sunday’s contest offers Sun Sports team photo cards to the first 500 people at the game. The players will be available afterwards to sign autographs. “It is always a real emotional day,” Graf said. “It is tough to realize you are playing your last home collegiate game, but I think they will be pretty pepped up. I think they are going to want to go out as winners.”
:: Scouting Virginia ::
The Cavs and Seminoles hit the field Saturday for the 64th time, with FSU leading
49-14. However, it their last meeting, the Cavs upset the Seminoles last season, 5-4. Sara Larquier and Jenn Wynn pace the Virginia offense with .360 and .326 batting averages, respectively. As a team, the Cavs hit .255 and the staff holds opponents to a .243 mark. Three main pitchers see action in the circle. Erin Horn is the ace with a 10-7 record and a 2.45 ERA. Coty Tolar is 9-12 overall with a team-low 2.44 ERA. Larquier has a team-best 58 hits on the season and she also has 41 RBIs. Virginia is fourth in the league in batting, last in team pitching, and third in team fielding. The Cavs split with Radford Thursday by scores of 2-4 and 6-2. Tolar got the loss and Horn earned the victory during the second game of the doubleheader.
FSU and VA Series
(FSU leads 49-14)
Home:23-3…Away: 9-5…Neutral: 17-6
:: Just So You Know . . . ::
Of the Tribe’s last seven outings, four of them have been decided by two or less runs.
Casey Hunter’s last 3-of-4 victories have been way of shutouts.
In ACC games only, Florida State is hitting a low .198 while its opponents average a .227 average.
In ACC games only, Melissa Wood leads the Seminole offense with a .265 batting average while and Natasha Jacob is second with a .262 hitting percentage.
BillieAnne Gay, Carly Brieske, Jacob, LaShaun Davis, Whitney Buckmon and Wood all have a perfect fielding percentage in ACC games alone.
The pitching staff combines for a 1.90 ERA in league action. Hunter has a 1.52 ERA and McDonald a 2.08 ERA.
Brittany Osmon and Natasha Jacob are the only Seminoles to have started every game this season.
:: Buckmon Still Out of the Line-up ::
Freshman center fielder Whitney Buckmon is still out of the line-up because of a recent spat with mono. It’s unclear as to when she will return.
:: She’s Back—— ::
For the Seminoles, leftfielder Natasha Jacob appears to have broken out of her mid-season slump. During her slump, Jacob’s batting average plunged over .100 points. But through the last eight games Jacob is batting .422. “We have to have our leadoff hitter get on,” Graf said. “If she gets on we have good hitters behind her who can hit her in and if we can score first we are going to win most of our games.” Jacob was undoubtedly last week’s FSU Player of the Week. The native of Coppell, Texas, had a monstrous week at the plate for the Florida State softball team that went 3-2 last week, including a series victory against Maryland. Of the seven total runs the Seminoles earned, Jacob scored four of them. She batted .444 and slugged a healthy .500 that included eight hits in 18 at bats. Of her eight hits, seven of them were bunt singles and the other one was a double. She got on base 47.4 percent of the time. Jacob was the main contributor for FSU during its series with Maryland. On Saturday in the Tribe’s 1-0 victory against the Terps, she went 3-for-4 at the plate and notched one walk. Sunday in the series finale, Florida State tallied only three hits in the game and Jacob was responsible for two of them. She went 2-for-3 and scored both of FSU’s runs in the 2-0 win. Jacob did not strike out once in five games last week and she currently riding an eight-game hit streak. She started the week off batting .301 and ended it with a .321 average. The moral of the story? If Jacob’s on, the Seminoles are on.
:: Where’s Moe? ::
Florida State freshman catcher Melissa “Moe” Wood enjoyed a spectacular midseason surge where she actually started leading the Seminole offense with a .304 average. But during the last seven games, her numbers have dropped dramatically. She’s still batting clean-up despite going 2-for-21 in her last seven games. Of the 21 at bats, seven of them ended in a strikeout. The good news is that all it takes is one game to break out of a slump and her coaches have enough faith in the Lilburn, Ga., to keep her batting at the fourth slot.
:: Hoffer Loving New Role ::
Ever since shortstop Kim Hoffer started hitting at the No. 2 spot in the lineup right behind Natasha Jacob, her batting average has improved. Of the five straight games she hit second, Hoffer went 4-for-12 at the plate or .333 percent. In fact, the team has gone 4-1 ever since the line-up shuffle. Because the Seminoles have been winning games by a margin of just one or two runs, the short game is the key and that’s where Hoffer excels. She and teammate BillieAnne Gay are the two main players who are most relied on to put down sacrifice bunts.
:: That’s A No-No ::
Florida State freshman Tiffany McDonald joined an elite group on March 30 when she threw her first collegiate no-hitter against Jacksonville in an 11-0 shutout. McDonald’s no-no was the first and only of the season for the Tribe. She worked quickly and dominated the Dolphins for the entire second game of a doubleheader. The Belfair, Wash., native walked two and struck out seven batters. McDonald generated eight outs on the ground and one in the air, and threw the final pitch of the game just 88 minutes after throwing a called strike to begin the contest. McDonald’s teammate, Casey Hunter, has yet to pitch a no-hitter this season, but she has four in her career, including three last season.
Katie Fricke, OF
If anybody has ever told you there was something you couldn’t do yet you fought, persevered and made your dreams come true, you may know what Katie Fricke is feeling today. The Virginia native came to Florida State by way of Lake City Community College. She had just one goal when it came to athletics and that was to play Division I softball. Her dreams not only came true last season when she signed on with Florida State as a key reserve, but she also earned a trip the Women’s College World Series. Fricke slugged a healthy .439 and was instrumental in the team’s success. She is living a dream everyday to never give up.
Lesley Palmer, 3B
She, too, came to Florida State after spending one season at Lake City Community College with Katie Fricke and immediately powered her way into the Seminoles line-up. The native of Dale City, Virginia, has 15 career home runs which ranks her 13th all-time in the Atlantic Coast Conference. She has started in 160 games at FSU and slugged almost 48 percent in her career. Palmer was named a 2004 NFCA All-Southeast Region second team and ACC All-Tournament team. In just her first season at FSU, she was the ACC Championship’s most valuable player. Just recently, she and football player Brian Ross received the Doc Fauls Award for a senior male and female who overcame adversity to participate in FSU athletics.
Casey Hunter, P
Senior pitcher Casey Hunter will forever be remembered as one of the top pitchers in FSU, the ACC, and NCAA history. A 2004 NFCA second team and Easton 1st team All-American, Hunter was the first pitcher since Toni Gutieerrez in 1992 to put together back-to-back sub 1.00 ERA seasons in 2003 and 2004. She was selected as a member of the 2004 NFCA All-Southeast Region team and named last year’s ACC Tournament MVP. She completed 2003 with an incredible 33-4 record and an average ERA of 0.63 while leading the Seminoles to the Women’s College World Series. Nationally, she has been acknowledged and was named to the 2005 USA Softball National Player of the Year preseason Watch List. Casey has a long list of awards and accomplishments that she has achieved during her four seasons at Florida State and it would take forever to acknowledge them. To sum it all up, just know she is one of the best ever and will forever have a place in the FSU record book.
Tatiana George, SS/CF
She is the only four year senior starter on this year’s team and she has started an incredible 221 games since the 2002 season! Tatiana George is a star on the field, in the classroom and as a leader. She was the only Seminole to garner all-tournament honors this season at the prestigious Leadoff Classic for the second year in a row. She was a member of the 2003 All-ACC team and was named ACC Player of the Week during her sophomore campaign. Tatiana has slugged almost .400 percent her entire career and fielded above 90 percent. The super athletic Tatiana George played shortstop the majority of her career and most recently moved to center field where she has been nothing short of spectacular. But anyone who knows Tatiana knows she is so much more than records and awards. She has been the heart and soul of two NCAA Women’s College World Series teams. Even more impressive is the fact that she has overcome injury after injury including a broken nose this year. Tatiana is a leader not only to the softball team but the entire Florida State student-athlete body.