February 2, 2007 - by
GAMEDAY CENTRAL: No. 13 Florida State Opens 2007 Season Vs. No. 18 Tennessee This Afternoon

Feb. 2, 2007


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The Seminoles and Volunteers meet for the first time since 1998 when the teams opened their seasons at the ACC Baseball Blast in Orlando, FL. FSU, Tennessee, Ohio State and Notre Dame all participated in that tournament. This will be the first trip by the Vols to Tallahassee since March 23, 1974. That was Jack Stalling’s last season at the helm of the Seminole program. Tennessee has the overall lead in the series (4-3) and is on a three-game win streak. The last time a Seminole squad defeated the Volunteers was May 19, 1966. The two teams have never met more than twice in any season. This weekend’s three-game series will mark the most meetings between the schools in one season in program history. One of the highlights of this weekend’s opening series is the coaches. Tennessee Head Coach Rod Delmonico was an assistant coach for Mike Martin at Florida State from 1984-1989. The two remain close friends and Delmonico was in attendance at Martin’s induction to the ABCA Hall of Fame just a few weeks ago.

Probable Series Pitching Match-ups

Friday, February 2, 2007 – 4:00 pm
Florida State – Bryan Henry, rhp (2006 stats: 9-4, 2.88 ERA)
Tennessee – Craig Cobb, rhp (2006 stats: 9-3, 3.31 ERA)

Saturday, February 3, 2007 – 1:00 pm
Florida State – Michael Hyde, rhp (2006 stats: 9-1, 4.34 ERA)
Tennessee – James Adkins, lhp (2006 stats: 8-6, 4.50 ERA)

Sunday, February 4, 2007 – 1:00 pm
Florida State – Ryan Strauss, rhp (2005 stats: 1-0, 4.58 ERA)
Tennessee – Lance McClain, lhp (2006 stats: DNP)

GENERAL OUTLOOK

    The Seminoles projected opening day line-up features just two field players in the same position that they opened up playing in 2006.
    Florida State will chase its 29th consecutive NCAA Regional appearance this season.
    Mike Martin is just 10 wins away from moving into fifth place for all-time career wins in NCAA Baseball history.

ACCORDING TO 11: “We could be a better offensive club in 2007 but this club has some issues. We don’t have the overall speed that we had last year. When you lose Ryne Malone and the 2005 National Player of the Year Shane Robinson, your not going to replace those guys the very next year. The loss of Tyler Chambliss is going to be a challenge as well. We do have some guys just waiting for their opportunity.

“We have some experience behind the plate and at second base. It may not be experience at the position that he is playing in Buster but it is still Division I experience. My concern is defensively in the outfield and becoming more disciplined at the plate. Last year we had our usual amount of walks. Right now I am a little concerned we are not being as disciplined. We are swinging at too many pitches out of the zone, or at the pitcher’s pitch when we are ahead in the count.”

EXPECTATIONS IN 2007

  • Florida State did not play in an NCAA Super Regional in 2006 snapping the longest streak in the nation for consecutive appearances.
  • The Seminoles played in the program’s 28th consecutive NCAA Tournament last season.
  • FSU starts the season ranked 13th by Collegiate Baseball, 15th by the NCBWA and 18th by Baseball America.

ACCORDING TO 11: “I have been very impressed with the work ethic of this club that started in September when we began fall practice. We know with the strength of the ACC we have to do a better job this year in positioning ourselves for postseason play. This league is the toughest league in the country in my opinion and I think last year’s College World Series and the preseason rankings this year will validate that. Our goal is Omaha just like it is entering each and every season.”

ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?

  • Of the 35 players on Florida State’s 2007 roster, 31 have two years experience or less as Seminoles.
  • The 2007 roster features just two players that were on the team when FSU last won an ACC Championship in 2004.
  • The only Seminole who has played in each of the last three seasons is relief pitcher Brian Chambers.
  • The last time FSU began a season with just one fourth-year senior on the roster was 2004.

ACCORDING TO 11: “I think if you look at our overall team you have to say this is an experienced team. You have everybody in the infield, with the exception of a freshman third baseman, who has played a lot of Division I baseball. I mean at least 60 or 70 ball games and some 120 or so. With Dennis Guinn, Ruairi O’Connor and Jack Rye in the outfield, you have to look at those players as experienced. The experience among the pitchers is good as well but we just don’t have everything settled. We don’t know for a fact who is going to be the closer in April or who is going to be in the rotation. That is what always plays itself out.”

THE SCHEDULE

  • Eight teams that played in the 2006 NCAA Baseball Tournament are on the Seminoles’ schedule in 2007.
  • Half of the 2006 College World Series field was made up of ACC teams and FSU will play weekend series with all four of those squads.
  • Mike Martin will face former assistant Rod Delmonico for the first time ever when FSU and Tennessee open the season versus one another.

ACCORDING TO 11: “Our schedule is very competitive as it always is. With our additional game with Florida in Jacksonville I believe you will see one of the largest crowds to ever watch a college baseball game in our state. That will be a landmark game that draws 10,000-plus fans. We open with a three-game series versus Tennessee which is coached by my good friend and former assistant Rod Delmonico. I get a chance to see his son playing. That will be a very exciting weekend for me. Rod has done such a great job at Tennessee. We know that series is certainly going to be a series where our weaknesses will be exposed. It will help us as we progress through the season. We normally don’t like to open with as tough an opponent as the Volunteers but it should provide a very good indication of our team at this point of the year. It should be very exciting for our fans.

“The ACC had an historic season last year. With half of the College World Series field being made up of ACC teams that speaks for itself. This year we get North Carolina and Clemson at home, which is certainly to our advantage. On the other hand we have to go to NC State, Miami and Georgia Tech and that will be to their advantage. Every weekend in the ACC you know anything can happen. Last year I was disappointed in the outcome of some series. We were outplayed. We just didn’t get it done. I hope this year is different.”

ON THE OFFENSE

  • Players who accounted for 47 of FSU’s 69 homeruns in 2006 are back this year.
  • Six of Florida State’s top seven hitters for average return this season.
  • Florida State has hit 55 or more homers for 12 straight seasons.

ACCORDING TO MARTIN, JR.: “The most crucial aspect for us in producing runs is going to be competitive at bats. We feel like we are going to put 8-10 guys in the mix that are going to be difficult to strikeout, know how to bunt and run the bases. We are not going to be a team that hits 90-100 homeruns but we feel like we will produce runs in other ways that will be just as effective. Dennis Guinn and Jack Rye had double digit homers last year and I think Buster Posey can get there as well. With those three guys in the middle of the order we feel like we have some power there. If Travis Anderson can get it going like he did down the stretch last year, you could possibly reach 70 or 80 homers, which is about right for the ACC and southeastern baseball. We feel we have enough.

“Replacing Shane Robinson at the top of the order will be a challenge. He was a catalyst for our offense the last two years but I think Mark Hallberg can provide us that same type of spark. He will not be the speedster Shane Robinson was but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if his on base percentage and run production were right there where Shane’s were. We feel like Mark has a chance to be an All-American player for us.”

GETTING DEFENSIVE

  • Tony Thomas, Jr. and Jack Rye are the only field players expected to open the season in the same positions they played in 2006.
  • For the fourth time in the last five seasons, the Seminoles fielded .964 or better.
  • The 2005 and 2006 squads rank as two of the top five best defensive teams in FSU history.
  • The Seminoles are projected to start just two field players with more than one year experience at his position with FSU.

ACCORDING TO 11: “With Buster Posey at catcher, I really think we have the potential to be a very good defensive club. We may be lacking a little speed in the outfield. You don’t replace a Shane Robinson in one year. The play in centerfield just needs to be consistent in order for us to be a very good defensive club.”

THE STAFF

  • Bryan Henry has a chance to become the first three-time All-ACC first team selection in school history.
  • Both Luke Tucker and Bryan Henry enter the 2007 as candidates for the Roger Clemens Award.
  • The Seminoles lost pitchers that accounted for 23 of the team’s 44 wins in 2006.
  • Seven of Florida State’s top nine pitchers as far as ERA are back in 2007.

ACCORDING TO SHOUPPE: “From an experience standpoint, we like the guys that are coming back. Guys like Bryan Henry, Michael Hyde and Brian Chambers have all been in the fire. Luke Tucker has been through a good season. Some of the guys still need to come through that haven’t done so yet and be what we expect them to be. Ryan Strauss could have a breakout year. We are counting on him. Caleb Graham, Travis Burge and Jimmy Marshall are all guys we expect a lot of. We have some new faces like Casey Whitmer, Danny Rosen and Matt Fairel who have shown some pretty good ability so far. They just need to get their feet wet early so they are ready for the ACC when we get to conference play.

“You like the fact we have a lot of experience returning. What concerns us is the lack of a dominant Friday night guy. I think we can overcome that with depth and giving teams enough different looks. That will be an asset for us. The loss of Tyler Chambliss was a big loss for us but I think we replaced him with several different pitchers. You never replace a pitcher as good as Tyler with just one player. I like the pitching staff this year better than last from the experience standpoint. The returning guys have all pitched versus ACC caliber competition and there is a new infusion of talent. Our second year guys are going to be better in 2007. I think we will be a better staff overall than last season.”

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