April 10, 2002
FSU FACES UAB THEN OPENS ACC PLAY WITH 6-0 JACKETS
The 21st-ranked Seminole softball team is coming off of an explosive weekend where the team swept a twin bill from Florida A&M. Florida State put on an offensive exhibition against the Rattlerettes by hitting .480 as a team, slugging .660, knocking in 20 RBIs, pounding out 24 hits, scoring 24 runs and posting an on base percentage of .587 in the two games.
Both games produced a piece of FSU history. In the 6-0 game one win, senior Leslie Malerich moved to 20-9 and became the first pitcher in Seminole history to win 20+ games three times. Then the Tribe went on to break a 15-year old record by scoring 18 runs in the 18-3 win in game two.
This upcoming week marks the most important stretch of the season for the Seminoles. Although that usually applies to any stretch run, it applies even more this season with FSU set to play 14 of its last 18 games versus ACC and regional opponents. Georgia Tech is already 6-0 in conference play and will look to complete a perfect conference season. With no automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament available to the Seminoles this season, their performance in the south region will be critical this season.
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENTS
ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (27-13-0): The Blazers are off to one of the school’s best starts and they make their inagural trip to Tallahassee for a Thursday night twin bill this week. UAB has won five of its last six games and are 7-5 in Conference USA play this season. Kai Paul has been UAB’s top overall hitter this season as she has a .304 average and leads the team with a .530 slugging percentage, 11 doubles five home runs and 24 RBIs. The Blazer pitching staff has also been very good as the teams three straters have combined for a 1.41 ERA. This is the first-ever meeting between FSU and UAB.
GEORGIA TECH (37-11-0, 6-0-0): After finishing either last or second to last for five straight seasons in the ACC, the Yellow Jackets are back and threatening to capture their first regular season title in school history. The Jackets will wrap-up conference play versus FSU this weekend and are undefeated so far after sweeping North Carolina last week. In contrast, this is just the first conference series of the season for the Seminoles. Tech’s resurgence can be traced to a pair of young pitchers. Rookie of the Year candidate Jessica Sallingerand sophomore Erin Voeltz are a combined 30-9. Sophomore Tara Knudsen is leading the way at the plate with a .393 average and a .738 slugging percentage. She has 12 home runs and 40 RBIs. FSU leads the all-time series with Georgia Tech 24-4.
BRANDI BITES THE SNAKE
After going 0-for-5 in her first two games against Florida A&M, you knew it was only a matter of time until junior Brandi Stuart broke out against the cross-town rival. In the season’s finale versus the Rattlerettes, she was perfect at the plate in a doubleheader as she went 4-for-4 with a home run, a triple, four RBIs, five runs scored, a 2.250 slugging percentage and two walks. The homer was the ninth of the season for the junior and represents the most by any Seminole in a single season since Tiffany Daniel set the all-time mark with 10 in 1987. She has single-handedly hit almost 43% of the team’s 21 home runs this year.
In the first game of the DH, the junior All-American candidate led-off the second inning by drawing her 19th walk of the season. Stuart proceeded to steal her 38th and 39th bases of the year before Kimmy Carter’s single to center plated Stuart giving FSU a 1-0 lead. Stuart came up again in the third with a runner on third and she proceeded to lace the first pitch she saw down the right field line for an RBI triple. It was Stuart’s team-leading third triple of the year and moved her past her total of two triples from the 2001 season.
Stuart really went to work on the FAMU pitching staff in game two of the day. In the first inning, she singled, stole her 40th base of the year and came around to score. In her next at bat, Florida A&M walked Stuart on four straight pitches and she came around to score her second run of game two. Stuart had a monster inning in the third as FSU exploded for 10 runs in the inning. With two on and two out, the Cerritos, CA native launched her ninth homer over the right field fence as she drove in RBIs 30 and 31 of the season and extended her team-leading total for runs scored to 41 in 2002. She wasn’t done yet though as FSU batted around and she came back up to the plate with runners on the corners. This time Stuart singled the first pitch she saw up the middle driving in her fourth RBI of game two and fifth of the day.
15 YEARS IN THE MAKING
In its 18-3, five-inning win over Florida A&M, the Seminoles retired one of the oldest records in the FSU history books. The 18 runs the Garnet and Gold scored were the most since 1987 when FSU beat FAMU 17-0. That record covered 959 games. The Seminoles looked like they were going to break the record for margin of victory, which was also set in that 17-0 win but fell just a few runs shy as the Rattlerettes fought back to post a few late inning runs.
MORE FROM FAMU
In two games and 12 innings versus Florida A&M April 6th, FSU hit .480 as a team, slugged .660, knocked in 20 RBIs, pounded out 24 hits, scored 24 runs and posted an on base percentage of .587…three of Florida State’s everyday starters came into the April 6th doubleheader against Florida A&M without a hit in the two previous meetings in the series. Brandi Stuart, Kimmy Carter and Shundra Colzie were a combined 0-for-13 coming into the twin bill. Boy did all of that change. Those three Seminoles combined to go 9-for-12 in the sweep and hit .750 as a group. Stuart and Carter each hit 1.000 in the two games while Colzie hit .500 by going 3-for-6…
With junior Brandi Stuart’s ninth home run of the year April 6th versus Florida A&M, the Seminoles are now stalking the 1992 squad’s record of 23 home runs. The 2002 Seminoles will have at least 18 more games to try and secure three more HR’s and capture the title.
HIGH TIMES AT THE NEW PARK
Although the Seminoles didn’t set quite as many season highs in the April 6th, 18-3 win over Florida A&M as they did when they established seven in a win over St. John’s but it is hard to argue the five they did establish weren’t more impressive. In the win over the Rattlerettes, Florida State establish five new season-highs as their 18 runs, 16 hits, 14 RBIs, 22 total bases and 10 runs scored in an inning all set new marks for the 2002 campaign.
EIGHT ISN’T ENUF
Coming in to the March 28th game with Florida A&M, sophomore Jessica van der Linden was tied with Brandi Stuart for the longest hitting streak of the season at eight games. After reaching by way of an error in the first inning, van der Linden attempted to extend the streak to a team high nine games in the third inning. The pitcher/outfielder led off the inning by singling to right field for her ninth consecutive game with a hit. The nine game hitting streak is the longest in van der Linden’s two-year career at Florida State. It is also the second-longest hitting streak in the last two seasons. The only longer streak was posted by catcher/outfielder Kimmy Carter last season when she recorded a hit in 11 consecutive games. The streak ended in FSU’s 6-0 win over Florida A&M April 6th but still stands as the longest in 2002.
Division I softball is a whole different game from high school ball and even junior college and while it may have taken a little time to adjust, this years newcomers seem to have turned the corner. Nobody has made the adjustment better than Tatiana George. The freshman has exploded in the second half of her freshman campaign. The Fontana, CA native has raised her average from .210 through the first half of the season to .302 in the second half. She has scored eight more runs (20 compared to 11), hit her first two home runs, raised her slugging percentage from .274 to .429, drawn nine more walks and increased her on base percentage by 159 percentage points. She has also reduced her errors from 11 through the first half of the season to three so far in the second.
Not too far behind George is junior college transfer Shundra Colzie. The Miami, FL native has had more than double the at bats in the second half and she has taken advantage of her opportunities. She is the team’s second leading hitter over the last 23 games as she has raised her average from .182 to .333. After going without an extra base hit in the first half of the season, Colzie has a double, a triple and three home runs in the second half, which has helped to increase her slugging percentage by a whopping 362 percentage points (.542 compared to .182). All eight of her RBIs have come in the second half of the 2002 season and she is now fielding 1.000 compared to .727 through the first 23 games.
Other freshmen showing marked improvements are Bryttani Lindheim and pitcher Casey Hunter. Lindheim has raised her average over the second half from .140 to .207 and she also recorded her first RBI of the year in the second half of the season. Hunter has a second half ERA of 1.75 compared to 3.07 over the first half of the year. She has also allowed just two earned runs compared to six in the first half of the season.
The 2002 season has brought with it a lot of challenges for Florida State softball but none more daunting than the schedule. The Garnet and Gold have faced nine teams who are ranked in this week’s USAToday/NFCA softball poll and two other teams (Mississippi State and South Carolina) who have been ranked. The Tribe has played #10 Washington and #18 Texas twice this season. The Seminoles also have a doubleheader remaining versus #11 FAU at the Seminole Softball Complex. Here’s a look at FSU vs. ranked opponents:
#7 CS Fullerton 8 Florida State 1 Florida State 1 #9 Oklahoma 0 Florida State 3 #10 Washington 2 #10 Washington 6 Florida State 4 #11 FAU 4 Florida State 2 #12 Michigan 1 Florida State 0 Florida State 11 #16 DePaul 5 Florida State 1 #18 Texas 0 #18 Texas 4 Florida State 2 #23 Georgia 3 Florida State 2 #25 Ohio State 2 Florida State 1 (11)
Freshman Tatiana George really seems to be finding her swing at the plate of late. The outfielder has raised her average 139 percentage points since reaching a season low .115 batting average after the 11th game of the year. Half of her 16 RBIs have come in the last 5 games and both of her home runs came in the last 16 contests. At the Buzz Classic, George had the best weekend of her career. The Fontana, CA native hit .360, drove in three RBIs and hit her second career home run. She is now fourth on the team with eight multi-hit games. Her hot-hitting continued in FSU’s March 28th game versus FAMU.
In No. 21 Florida State’s game against the Rattlerettes March 28, the left fielder went 3-for-4, scored a run and drove in the game-winning run. George put FSU up early when her single to lead off the top of the first inning was the only hit but she came around to give FSU the lead. Shandra Colzie sacrificed George to second before a passed ball left her on third with just one out. Jessica van der Linden then reached on an error by the FAMU third baseman, which allowed the freshman to come home from third with the game’s first run. After a two-out double and a walk put the Seminoles in business again in the top of the second, George came through again with her second hit in two at bats but FSU was unable to extend its lead. After FAMU tied things up in the bottom of the third, neither team was able to take a lead through six when FSU came up for its last at bat in the seventh. With two outs and a runner on third, George took FAMU starter Tenyse Tasby to a full count before fouling off four pitches to stay alive. George then sent a shot up the middle scoring the game-winning run. It was just the second game-winning RBI of George’s career and the first since a double in the bottom of the seventh helped down Maryland 2-1.
DOUBLE THE FUN
There is little doubt that sophomore Jessica van der Linden is one of the top second-year players in the ACC and maybe in the nation. The reigning ACC Rookie of the Year is looking to become just the fourth player in Seminole softball history to lead the squad in doubles in back-to-back seasons. She finished with the second-most doubles in a season in team history last year when she totaled 14 and she leads the team this season with 10. She is now just one double away from tying Cindy Lawton for the most two-baggers in back-to-back seasons in the 24 years of FSU softball. She is just 12 doubles away from becoming the all-time leader at FSU with more than two seasons still to play. She already is tied for fifth all-time with 24 in just under two seasons.
Van der Linden has also taken advantage of her increased opportunities on the mound due to the graduation of 2001 ace Jen White-Stokes. The Cerritos, CA native has already surpassed her 2001 totals for appearances (20), games started (20), complete games (13), innings pitched (114.1) and strike outs (120). She is also just three wins away from surpassing her total from 2001 when she went 13-3. Van der Linden should get the opportunity to add to all of those career highs with the Seminoles scheduled to play nine doubleheaders down the stretch.
NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP
Jessica van der Linden’s overall improvement from a stellar rookie campaign to her sophomore season is remarkable when you look at her numbers through 45 games in 2001 and 2002. Even though she has started almost the exact number of games both years (44 in 2001 compared to 45 this season) and has fewer at bats at this point in 2002 (127) than she did in 2001 (131), the super soph’s numbers are up in almost every area. She is hitting 34 percentage points higher this season (.339 compared to .305), she has 10 doubles this season compared to eight last year, she is slugging 45 percentage points higher (.472 compared to .427), she has scored seven more runs (23 versus 17 in 2001) and she has drawn seven more walks. She also has hit the first home run of her career this season. If you combine those numbers with her improved stats on the mound (see above note), it is easy to see why she is one of the most valuable Seminoles this season.
There is no doubt that teams love to play at home but how much have the friendly confines of the Seminole Softball Complex helped the 2002 squad? Florida State is 18-6 at home and 16-7 away and at neutral sites. The Tribe has gone 1-5 versus ranked teams at the Seminole Softball Complex yet they have posted a 3-2 mark versus ranked opponents away from home. Interesting, no?
MAKING A CASE
With every record she breaks, it gets harder and harder to argue that Leslie Malerich isn’t the greatest pitcher in FSU softball history. Every game out, it seems that Malerich knocks down another longstanding FSU record. The latest came April 6 when she notched her 20th win and became the first FSU pitcher ever to win 20+ games in three seasons. She set perhaps the biggest record Thursday, March 28 in a 2-1 win over Florida A&M. The complete game three-hitter gave Malerich the 91st win of her career and made her the all-time winningest pitcher in the 24-year history of Florida State softball. It was the third all-time record the All-American has broken this season.
In her first start of the season versus the Rattlerettes February 27, Malerich made the 136th appearance of her FSU career. That moved her past ex-teammate Jennifer White-Stokes and into first place. She now has 153 appearances in her career.
The Merrillville, IN native broke another all-time record in the process of recording her biggest win of the 2002 season. At the Kia Klassic at Cal State Fullerton, Malerich broke the all-time innings pitched record against No. 6 Oklahoma in a 1-0 shutout victory. She moved past Debbie DeJohn and into first place with her complete game win. Not only is she now in first with 852 innings pitched, she is the only pitcher in FSU history to pitch 800 innings in a career.
Junior All-American Brandi Stuart is on the verge of re-writing the FSU record books and she still has the rest of 2002 and her senior season. The co-captain is coming off her best season ever and has a chance to own almost every offensive record in Seminole softball history.
After a stellar rookie campaign, Stuart improved in almost every category last season. She raised her batting average 12 percentage points from .349 to .361, scored 10 more runs (49 versus 39), doubled her doubles (from 6 to 12) and hit more than twice as many home runs (5 compared to 2). She equaled her RBI total of 36 and raised her slugging percentage from .442 to .515, an increase of 73 percentage points. She also cut down on her strikeouts by almost 38% (from 34 to 21). Stuart also was more patient at the plate garnering 11 more walks in 2001 (28 versus 17). Another area of Stuart’s game that is often overlooked is her ability to steal bases. In two seasons, she has amassed 72 swipes. That is just 25 behind All-American Serita Brooks’ total from her two years at Florida State and she is considered by many to be one of the top base-stealers in Seminole history. Brooks currently holds three different NCAA records for stolen bases.
The trend of Stuart improving her game from year to year looks to be holding up this season also. Through 44 games in 2001 and 2002, the junior has shown improvement in almost every category despite playing against 11 ranked teams this season compared to just one last year. Stuart has raised her batting average(from .394 to .396), raised her slugging percentage almost 100 percentage points (from .551 to .649), she has scored three more runs (33 compared to 36), hit one more double (seven compared to six), hit five more home runs (eight compared to three) and she has stolen almost twice as many bases (36 compared to 19). Her fielding percentage has improved from .931 to .959 and she is even getting on base more frequently (.471 compared to .462). She has assumed an even greater offensive role this season as she leads the club in ten different offensive categories compared to six last season through an equal number of games. At her current pace, Stuart will finish in the top two for runs scored and home runs, first in doubles, fifth in triples, third in steals and first in RBIs amongst FSU’s all-time leaders. She would single-handedly wipe away almost 20 years of history. That’s impressive.
MODEL OF CONSISTENCY
Despite a slight dip in her batting average from the first half of the 2002 season compared to the second half, junior Brandi Stuart has not only played at an All-American level in 2002 but she has been eerily consistent from one half of the season to the next. Through 67 at bats in the first and second halves of the 2002 season, the junior’s numbers in runs, hits, triples, home runs, total bases and RBIs are almost identical. Stuart’s consistency has been a key to the Seminoles success in 2002 and she is making another strong case for All-American status.
LIKE A BROCK
when the 2002 campaign began but as she started to produce at the plate, it become harder and harder to keep her out of the line-up. With her start versus FAMU April 6th, Brock already surpassed her total starts from 2001 and her three RBIs this year are also a single-season high. Her 59 at bats and 15 hits this season are the most since 2000 when she started 55 games. She has also surpassed her run total from 2001 with nine and most amazingly, she has struck out just one time all year. In her last 81 at bats, Brock has struck out just two times.
THAT DIDN’T HURT SO BAD
So far this season, FSU pitchers have allowed nine home runs but only two of those HR’s have come with runners on. Last season, the FSU staff, which won the NCAA’s ERA Title, gave up 11 round-trippers but five of those HR’s came with runners on base. On the other hand, the Seminole offense is in the midst of threatening to break the team home run record of 23 that was set in in 1994. Florida State has hit 21 so far this year and needs just three more to become the most prolific home run hitting team in the program’s 24-year history. Of the 21 HR’s the Tribe has hit this season, 13 have come with runners on base and three have been the game-winning hit.
THE LAUNCHING PAD
Now that Atlanta Fulton County Stadium has been replaced by Turner Field, a case can be made that the Al Bishop Softball Complex may be the new “Launching Pad” as far as FSU is concerned. The 20th-ranked Seminole softball team entered the 2002 Buzz Classic at the Al Bishop Complex with 10 home runs. In the six games played at Al Bishop, FSU equaled their season total with 10 in a weekend. The Seminoles set a new season-high with three HR’s in a game versus Princeton and they had multi-home run games versus Campbell, UNC-Greensboro and UCF. The Garnet and Gold also had a home run versus Troy State and ended up homering in five of their six games at the Buzz. Now the team is within three homers of tying the All-Time FSU record for home runs in a season (23). By knocking in four HRs herself at the Buzz, sophomore Brandi Stuart now has eight on the season and is just two away from tying the single season record. The second baseman has hit more home runs this season than she had in her previous two seasons combined (7).
Senior Kimmy Carter must be taking her vitamins because she has shown surprising power at the plate so far this season. The co-captain came into the 2002 season with four career home runs and through 47 games this year, she has already set a single season high with three. She is now just one HR away from matching her total from the previous three seasons combined. She has already eclipsed her RBI total from her freshman and sophomore seasons with 34 this year and is just one away from setting a new career high after knocking in 33 runs last season.
ACE OF THE BASES
When senior Kimmy Carter set a season high with five RBIs against DePaul by doubling and tripling with the bases loaded, she probably had no idea how big those hits were. Her double moved her onto the all-time doubles list at Florida State with 24 in her career and the triple gave her a total of 15 and she is now just one away from becoming a career leader in that category also. If Carter is able to get one more triple, she will become just the second player in the 24 year history of the program to appear as a career leader for both doubles and triples (Lisa Davidson is the other). When Carter gets on the at bats and games played lists, which she will before all is said and done, she will be the only Seminole ever to appear on the career leaders list for games played, at bats, doubles and triples. That would be some accomplishment!
THAT’S MORE THAN HALF
Senior Kimmy Carter and junior Brandi Stuart are two of the most important cogs that drive the Seminole softball machine and that fact is never more evident than when you look at the chart below and add up game-winning RBIs. Between the two, Carter and Stuart have combined for 18 game-winning RBIs, which is more than half of FSU’s 2002 victories. Carter leads the team with 11 while Stuart isn’t far behind with seven.
Senior Kimmy Carter is just 16 games away from entering the all-time games played list for FSU Softball. She has averaged 66 games per year in her three years with the team.
Carter is also 21 at bats away from becoming a career leader for Florida State in that category. She has averaged 180 at bats per season in her previous three years.
Carter and junior Brandi Stuart are both nearing career records for runs scored. Carter is 28 runs away after scoring 38 times in 2001. Stuart has the rest of 2002 and 2003 to secure the 10 runs she needs to make it on to the list. At her current pace, Stuart will end up second all-time by the time her career is over with 178 runs.
Carter and Stuart should both find themselves on FSU’s career list for hits by the time the season is over. Carter needs just 24 more runs after posting 64 her junior year. Stuart could end up as FSU’s All-Time hits leader when all is said and done. At her current pace she would finish her career with 304 hits, which is just six hits shy of No. 1 on the list.
Carter, Stuart, Jessica van der Linden and Monique Marier are also zeroing on the record for all-time doubles after the 2001 squad set a record with 93 last season. Carter is now on the list after her performance at the Kia Klassic with 24 for her career and if she repeats her effort of nine from 2001 she will end up third on the all-time list. Marier and van der Linden each launched 14 last year (the second most in team history). Marier is just 5 away from reaching the all time list while van der Linden has already tied for 6th. Van der Linden is on pace to shatter the record of 38 after her record freshman season. Stuart is also on pace to take over first after recording 18 doubles in just two seasons.
The same duo of Carter and Stuart are also nearing the triples record. Carter is one away and Stuart is just five away.
Brandi Stuart has amassed 106 steals in two and a half seasons. She is third on the all-time steals list and is projected to finish third all-time with 144 swipes.
Here they go again. Carter and Stuart are closing in on the all-time RBI record also. At her current pace, Carter could finish her career tied for fourth and moved into second place already with 34 this year. Stuart is now on the RBI list with 32 this year and has posted 36 RBIs in back-to-back seasons. If she does that over the next two years, Stuart will end up FSU’s all-time RBI leader.
While Brandi Stuart and Kimmy Carter are in the midst of launching an offensive assault against the Florida State record book, Leslie Malerich is doing the same but from the mound. The senior All-American, barring unforeseen circumstances, will end up on every all-time list in the Florida State history. She already appears on three of the five lists and has a shot to end up No. 1 in most of the categories. Here is a look at where she currently stands:
Malerich is now FSU’s all-time leader in appearances after her start versus FAMU February 27th. She surpassed teammate Jen White-Stokes by making the 136th appearance of her career and she now has 154.
Malerich moved into first on the list out in Fullerton and she has now pitched 895 innings in her career. She now owns the records for appearances and innings pitched. Malerich has never pitched less than 145 innings in a season.
She wasn’t even amongst the top five when the season began but she is now the winningest pitcher in FSU history with her 2-1 win over FAMU March 28. Malerich has averaged 30 wins over the past two seasons and already has 20 this year. When you combine the wins record with her records for appearances and innings pitched, Malerich will have the ammunition to back up the claim that she is the greatest pitcher in FSU history.
Malerich is also the first Seminole ever to record 20 or more wins in three seasons.
This is one of just two categories Malerich probably won’t finish No. 1 but she will end up in the top four. She currently sits third on the list with 663 K’s but she is still 171 behind the all-time leader (Julie Larsen).
Malerich has already recorded 41 shutouts in her career and is just two away from becoming a career leaders in this category also. She could conceivably move up to third if she matches her career-high total of 16 shutouts set during her junior season.
Earned Run Average:
This might be the toughest category of all for the senior. Despite a sparkling 0.72 ERA last season, she still needs to drop her career ERA from 1.24 to 0.84 this season to get on this list. She is doing her part though as she currently has an anemic ERA of 1.03.