June 27, 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Two Seminole softball players were named 2002 Easton All-Americans after leading the Tribe to the semifinals of the 2002 Women’s College World Series and a No. 4 national ranking, First-team NFCA/Louisville Slugger All-American Brandi Stuart was also named to Easton’s first-team after the second baseman’s record breaking season. Leslie Malerich, FSU’s all-time wins leader, was selected to the third-team. This is the second consecutive season both players were selected to be Easton All-Americans. Florida State was also named one of five Easton 2002 Schools of the Year and for the second straight year the Seminole softball media guide was selected for Easton’s Cover Team of the Year award.
“Obviously we are honored by Easton’s inclusion of our players and program on their 2002 awards list,” said head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf. “I am really excited for Leslie (Malerich) because she had such a great year for us. She did everything we asked of her down the stretch by winning three games in one day to send us to the World Series and then beating UCLA and Nebraska in Oklahoma City. She had a phenomenal career at Florida State.
“Brandi (Stuart) had one of the most productive offensive seasons in the history of the program and was a big part of our success in 2002. Its great to see that she is being recognized for all of her hard work.”
During the 2002 season, Stuart was named to the All-ACC team, All-ACC Tournament team, All-NCAA Tallahassee Regional team, All-Southeast Region team, a Verizon third-team Academic All-American and an NFCA/Louisville Slugger first team All-American. The Cerritos, CA native led the Seminoles in every offensive category but RBIs in 2002 and set career highs for batting average (.391), runs (63), hits (81), triples (7), home runs (10), RBIs (45), slugging percentage (.647), walks (45) and steals (54). For the season, Stuart had the fourth-highest batting average in team history, the second-most runs, the most homers, the fifth-most RBIs, fourth-most steals and set a new record for walks. She became the first player in FSU history to hit 30 RBIs in three seasons, broke the record for the most RBIs ever recorded over a three year span and no player in Seminole softball history ever hit for a higher average and drove in as many runs, recorded as many doubles, triples and home runs and had a higher slugging percentage that Stuart did in 2002. She was also just the second FSU player ever invited to Team USA National Camp.
Malerich’s inclusion on the Easton All-American team caps a stellar career for the hurler who already owns half of the career records at FSU including wins (107) and innings pitched (988.2). The Merrillville, IN native was masterful at the most important time of the year in NCAA Regionals and the Women’s College World Series. With Florida State needing three consecutive wins to advance to the school’s sixth College World Series, Malerich stepped up and recorded all three victories in one afternoon as she threw 21 innings and 820 pitches. She won two extra inning games and then pitched FSU to a win in the championship game.
She carried her brilliant play to Oklahoma City where she held the nation’s top offense to just one run in nine innings as the Tribe upset No. 1 seed UCLA 2-1 to open the WCWS. Malerich followed that game with another masterful performance by holding eventual National Champion Cal to its lowest offensive output of the World Series in a 1-0 defeat. The hurler came back and became just the second FSU ever to win two games at the College World Series when she picked up another victory in an elimination game, this time over No. 6 Nebraska, and sent FSU into the semifinals. In seven days dating back to the final day of action at the 2002 NCAA Tallahassee Regional, Malerich had thrown 704 pitches. That equated to her pitching a complete game every day for seven straight days. She had pitched 55 innings over that stretch and posted a 6-1 record. Her play at the World Series earned her a spot on the 2002 All-WCWS Team.
The Seminoles joined National Champion Cal and World Series opening round opponent UCLA as one of just four D-I schools named 2002 Easton Schools of the Year. The tribe was also joined on the list by the University of Evansville and West Valley College (CA). Just weeks after the 2002 FSU media guide was named second in the nation by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), the book picked up its second consecutive Easton honor as it was one of five guides to be named as a Cover Team of the Year. For more information on the fourth-ranked Seminole Softball team and a review of the squads run to the semifinals of the 2002 Women’s College World Series, please visit the official athletic website of Florida State located at www.seminoles.com.