TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – By her own admission, Morgan Klaevemann isn’t the type to intimidate opposing pitchers at the plate.
Once she’s on base, though, it’s a different story.
Because once she takes first, there’s a good chance that Klaevemann, Florida State’s 5-foot-2 centerfielder, will steal her way to second. Then, if a pitcher gets a little too careless or a little too nervous, Klaevemann will pounce and take third.
And, more often than not, the scene will end with Klaevemann crossing home plate.
“Once I get on base, my mindset is to steal the next bag and, ultimately, score,” Klaevemann said.
She’s done plenty of each for the Seminoles this season. A sophomore from Refugio, Texas, about 45 minutes north of Corpus Christi, Klaevemann leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in stolen bases (43), runs scored (59) and walks (41), and her .519 on-base percentage is good for third in the league.
Through more than just her numbers, Klaevemann is perhaps the perfect embodiment of the speed that coach Lonni Alameda has injected into this year’s team, which is 45-8 and ranked No. 6 in the nation as it races into this week’s ACC tournament in Raleigh, N.C.
The Seminoles begin the tournament Thursday at 11 a.m. against Pittsburgh. More aggressive base running will likely be in store.
“I just try to create havoc wherever I can and make other people nervous,” Klaevemann said. “That’s my job: I get on base and I steal bags.”
Alameda said she’s had a handful of speedy players in the past, but never a full collection like this season.
That, of course, shows up in the stolen bases category, where FSU ranks first in the conference and sixth nationally with 2.42 stolen bases per game.
But it can also have an impact in less obvious ways. Like when Klaevemann or freshman utility player Cali Harrod (23 stolen bases) beats out a throw to first.
Or when a pitcher, trying a little too hard to hold a runner on base, leaves a pitch over the plate and gives one of FSU’s power hitters – the Seminoles have also hit 50 home runs this season – something to drive.
Or when an outfielder, knowing that Klaevemann is rounding third and headed for home, rushes her throw and misses the mark.
“Speed is what we do,” junior first baseman Alex Powers said. “We have power hitters, we have people that hit home runs, doubles, that kind of thing. But we really pride ourselves in being smart base-runners and, when maybe a ball … could be a single or a double, just stretching it out and really trying to put it out there.
“Because we know that’s what’s going to get us far in the postseason.”
Speaking of the postseason, a deep run in this week’s conference tournament can likely secure a top-eight, national seed for the Seminoles in the NCAA tournament, which begins next week.
FSU is ranked seventh in the NCAA’s latest Ratings Percentage Index and are projected by collegesportsmadness.com to be a No. 7 national seed.
Klaevemann said that the excitement ramps up come tournament time, but the Seminoles don’t plan on changing much from what got them here.
Which means more strong pitching from Jessica Burroughs and Meghan King, more slugging from Powers and Jessica Warren, and more havoc on the base paths from Klaevemann.
“What we’ve worked for has gotten us far,” Klaevemann said. “The atmosphere (in the postseason) is still pretty much the same, it’s just really exciting to be getting closer and closer, game by game, to where we want to be, which is a national championship.”