May 24, 2002
SETTING THE STAGE
Florida State and Cal have met nine times with the Golden Bears owning a 8-1 advantage in the series. The two teams squared off in the NCAA Tallahassee Regional three times last year with Cal advancing to the World Series after Florida State forced a second championship game on the final day of Regional play. In 2001, Florida State was the No. 1 seed with Cal seeded second. The two teams met for the first time in a winner’s bracket game on the second day and played to a scoreless tie into the seventh inning. Cal ace Jocelyn Forest limited the Seminoles to two hits and the Bears won the game on a suicide squeeze in the bottom of the seventh.
After Florida State downed Florida Atlantic later that day to earn another meeting with the Bears, the two teams met again on Sunday with Cal just one win away from the WCWS. The Golden Bears held on to a 1-0 lead as the game moved into the bottom of the fourth. Sophomore Jessica van der Linden doubled to lead the inning off and then came home to score. Thursday’s Seminole hero, Monique Marier, then knocked in the eventual game winning RBI later in the fourth giving Florida State the lead. Thursday’s winner Leslie Malerich pitched five innings of one run ball in picking up the win.
The FSU win set up a decisive final game with the Bears that evening. The two teams played an epic 10-inning battle as each fought to get to the 2001 WCWS. The game entered the top of the tenth tied 1-1 before FSU took a 2-1 lead on a two-out, RBI single by current FSU catcher Kimmy Carter. The Bears loaded the bases with one out before FSU recorded a force at home plate. With two outs, Leslie Malerich, who was pitching in relief, got two strikes on Kristen Morley moving the Tribe within one strike of the school’s first World Series in eight years. Morley stuck out her bat and sent a looping shot in to shallow center scoring two runs and sending Cal on their way to the 2001 WCWS.
PICKS TO CLICK
First team All-American Brandi Stuart had more success than any Seminole against Cal last season. The junior hit .444 going 4-for-9, with two doubles and slugging .667. She also recorded one of FSU’s four RBIs. Current Seminole seniors Kimmy Carter and Monique Marier also recorded RBIs in the three game series. Leslie Malerich was the pitcher of record in FSU’s only win versus Cal and she posted a 1.31 ERA in 5.1 innings of work
HOW CAN THAT BE?
Fans at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium got a glimpse of one of the nation’s top hurlers yesterday as Leslie Malerich picked up her 34th win of the year in downing No. 1 ranked and top-seeded UCLA. But when it came time to hand out postseason honors, the All-American in 2000 didn’t even make it onto the All-Southeast Region team this year. That’s hard to believe when you look at how many wins she has amassed in 2002. No pitcher in the 2002 Women’s College World Series has as many wins as Malerich’s 34. First team All-Americans Jenny Finch and Keira Gorel, who the FSU hurler out-dueled Thursday, have 32 and 31 wins respectively. Second team All-American Jocelyn Forest has 26 wins on the season and Michigan third teamer Marissa Young has 27 wins. Oklahoma’s Jennifer Stewart has 22 wins, ASU’s Erica Beach has 32 and Nebraska’s Leigh Ann Walker has 27.
TOPS IN THE POST
For the second consecutive year, Malerich is turning up the intensity level in the postseason and her stats are a testament to that. The senior has been the pitcher of record in all 12 of Florida State’s postseason victories in 2001 and 2002. In 2001, she compiled a 6-1 record in 48.1 innings while allowing just six earned runs in nine games. She struck out 37 batters and had an ERA of 0.87. Not much has changed in 2002. The senior is 6-2 in nine appearances this season. She has pitched 56 innings and allowed just 10 earned runs while posting an ERA of 1.28.
ONE IN NINE, NOT BAD
Senior Leslie Malerich was masterful in limiting No. 1 UCLA to just one run in nine innings Thursday. The Bruins entered the 2002 Women’s College World Series averaging 5.75 runs a game and were limited to just six hits. It was just the 16th time in 2002 that UCLA had been held to six hits or less in a game. The victory was the fifth consecutive win in the postseason for FSU’s ace and came on the heels of the final day of Regionals when she recorded three wins in one afternoon.
Malerich has had a stellar career at FSU and that is never more evident than when you look at how many wins the pitcher has over the last four seasons. Florida State, as a team, has amassed 204 victories dating back to 1999 and the senior has accounted for 106 of those wins. Malerich has single handedly recorded 52% of the programs wins since she stepped on campus in Tallahassee as a freshman.
NOT IN A GRUVE-MAN
UCLA senior Stacey Nuveman came into the 2002 Women’s College World Series with a list of accolades as long as some of the 89 career homeruns she has hit. The Pac-10 Athlete of the Year set the all-time mark for career homers in 2002 with 89 and she is on pace to finish the season slugging over 1.000 for the second year in her career, which would be another NCAA first. Considering those numbers, it is amazing how well Seminole starter Leslie Malerich did in the Seminoles 2-1 win Thursday. The right-hander held the Bruin catcher hitless for just the 13th time in 62 games this year. Although the UCLA slugger did draw two walks, she barely got the ball out of the infield as she popped up to second and grounded out in two opportunities.
EXTENDED POWER PLAN
Monique Marier, Thursday’s offensive hero for FSU, is a junior college transfer but has already established some impressive numbers in just two seasons in Tallahassee. Her 15 HRs already rank her fourth in FSU history and her 82 RBIs are just outside of the career leaders list. If the senior had played four full seasons at FSU, at her current pace she would be No. 1 all time with 30 homers, 50 doubles and 164 RBIs.
A FIRST VERSUS THE FIRST
The Seminoles 2-1 win over UCLA Thursday marked the first time in 24 years of FSU softball that the Tribe defeated a team ranked No. 1 in the nation, It was also the program’s first-ever win over a No. 1 seed at the Women’s College World Series.
THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN OFTEN
When Monique Marier blasted a two-out, game-winning home run in the top of the ninth off of UCLA ace Keira Goerl, she joined an elite group. The Clearwater, Fla. native hit just the sixth round-tripper of the year off the NCAA Regional MOP in 799 at bats. Gorel, who entered the game with a 0.50 ERA, allowed just one homerun every 45 innings on average this year on top of setting a UCLA record with six no-hitters this year (tied with Lisa Fernandez).
THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN OFTEN, PART II
When ACC member Florida State downed Pac-10 power UCLA 2-1 in nine innings Thursday, the Seminoles became just the fourth non-Pac-10 team to down the Bruins in the last 130 games. UCLA went a perfect 45-0 against schools outside of the Pac-10 in 2001 and before the loss to the Seminoles the Bruins came into the College World Series 36-4 in games outside of their conference. The Seminoles are also the first Atlantic Coast Conference school to ever down the mighty Bruins.