March 29, 2005
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State, unranked for the first time this season in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, looks to snap a five-game losing streak at home this week with six games in a matter of four days as win No. 1,300 dangles in head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf’s reach. With 1,296 victories to date, she needs to win four of the six to achieve the outstanding milestone. Furthermore, on Saturday, April 2, the Seminole Softball Complex will officially become JoAnne Graf Field during a dedication ceremony that will take place at 12:45 p.m.
All five contests will be broadcasted live on www.seminoles.com, the official website for Seminole athletics and live stats will be available for each outing.
“I don’t think the team feels any extra pressure,” said Graf, who is in her 27th season at FSU. “They are putting pressure on themselves to win and I don’t think the extra hoopla will matter to them. In fact, I’m hoping it will relax them a little bit, so they will start thinking of something else other than the way they are playing.”
The Seminoles take on Jacksonville first in a doubleheader that begins at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. The Dolphins enter the contest 17-18 overall and Katie Dobson leads JU in the circle with a 9-7 record and 1.70 ERA.
The following evening, Florida A&M (22-25), travels across town to clash with the Seminoles beginning at 6 p.m. This will be the third time the two squads have met, as both teams split in the season opener. However, Florida State was without NFCA All-American pitcher Casey Hunter because of an illness, and she will be in the lineup on Thursday. For the second straight week, FAMU pitcher Monique Mattingly (6-4) received Pitcher of the Week honors from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and she will likely throw against the Seminoles that evening.
The Tribe will then turnaround this weekend and face Virginia Tech in an ACC series on Saturday (April 2) and Sunday (April 3). Fans are encouraged to arrive early for the doubleheader Saturday to witness a piece of Seminole athletic history as the field is named in Graf’s honor. The first 500 fans will receive a commemorative pennant. Full game notes and statistics will be provided on the series Friday.
Last weekend, Florida State dropped to 20-15 on the season and 3-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, as it was swept in a conference series for the first time since Georgia Tech took a pair in 2000. The loss marked the then-24th-ranked Seminoles’ first five-game losing streak in five seasons when the Tribe dropped eight-straight that same year. The Yellow Jackets maintained their conference lead at 5-1 with an overall record of 32-7.
“It’s a good time for us to make a turn and we can’t take much longer,” commented Graf. “We have a different pitching staff since playing Florida A&M then what we had at the beginning of the year, so it will be a different match-up with them. Jacksonville is very aggressive and they’re going to come in here with a nothing-to-lose attitude. They’ll come after us. We have to be ready.”
The Seminoles have struggled offensively as of late and only two players, Natasha Jacob and Melissa Wood, are hitting above .300. Furthermore, in the ACC, the Seminoles are ranked second-to-last in batting average and fourth in team pitching.
Jacob paces the Tribe with a .330 mark and is ninth in the league. She has a team-best 35 hits on the season. Wood, who has a team-high five home runs, also leads her troop with 17 RBIs. She needs three more home runs to tie the freshman single season home run mark and four more to break it. Current second baseman Veronica Wootson owns the record, which she established last season. Wood is in third place in the ACC in home runs behind Tech’s Megan Evans (9) and NC State’s Jennifer Chamberlin (5).
“I feel like it’s really far away,” said Wood, who is a catcher for Hunter. “However, when I got my fifth one it kind of hit me that maybe I can do this. Regardless, I’m not really looking at individual accomplishments right now. I think everyone is just focused on hitting the ball hard and mine just happen to go over. As a whole, we just want to get solid hits. The rest will take care of itself.”
In the circle, both Tiffany McDonald (1.43 ERA) and Hunter (1.28 ERA) sport 10-win records. McDonald is 10-3 overall and Hunter is 10-11, respectively.
Thursday, March 31 vs. FAMU
– The first 250 fans in attendance will receive a free Seminole Water Bottle.
– Post-game youth clinic with the team. The clinic is open to the first 100 kids 16 -and-under whom pre-register.
Saturday, April 2 vs. Virginia Tech
– Pre-game field dedication for Coach Graf.
– Softball Little League Day. Softball teams with ten or more players in attendance will be entered into a drawing to win a pizza party with the Seminole Softball team.
– The first 500 fans will receive a JoAnne Graf Field commemorative pennant.
Sunday, April 3 vs. Virginia Tech
– Homerun Derby: A homerun derby featuring FSU student-athletes, athletic department staff and members of the local media will take place immediately following the game.
– Softball Camp Reunion Day: All summer softball campers have been invited back to campus for this game. There will be a post-game pizza party with the team immediately following the contest.