Feb. 11, 2004
Macon, GA – Head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf’s 1000th NCAA win didn’t come easy Wednesday night. A scrappy Mercer Bear team (3-1) fought FSU all the way but a three run sixth inning broke the game open for the 16th-ranked Seminoles (5-0) as Graf joined one of the most exclusive clubs in NCAA softball with the 5-1 win. The long-time Seminole coach picked up her 1000th fast pitch victory becoming just the second Division I coach ever to win 1,000 games and only the third in NCAA history at any level to reach that plateau. No NCAA coach with 1000 wins has a better winning percentage than the FSU coach.
“I think getting 1000 wins means I have spent way too much time around the softball field,” said Graf. “It is nice. You have to credit all the players. They have pulled out so many victories. Over the years there have been a lot of games we should have lost that they pulled out. The players helped me reach this so fast.
“Florida State is my alma mater and it is a special place for me. It is kind of neat that is the only place I have ever coached and all 1000 wins came there.”
Junior Casey Hunter recorded her third victory of the season as she remained perfect on the year. The hurler didn’t issue a walk for the second straight game and she fanned nine Bears in the complete game win. Lesley Palmer and Georgia native Beth Wade led the way for FSU at the plate. Palmer went 2-for-4 with an RBI and Wade had the biggest hit of the game as her two-run double broke the game open in the sixth.
The Tribe mustered a hit in the top of the first but was unable to get on the board. The Bears, on the other hand, were able to break through versus Hunter in the bottom of the frame. After retiring the first batter she faced, Hunter allowed the next three hitters to reach as an RBI single drove in the game’s first run. It was the third time in three starts that Hunter was touched in the first inning. The junior came back strong though and struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
Sophomore Katie Rosentreter (2-1) kept the Tribe at bay in the second but Natasha Jacob led off the third with a bunt single before swiping second. The speedy sophomore moved to third on a passed ball. After the hurler’s fourth strikeout, Tatiana George reached on a fielder’s choice, which scored Jacob when the ball was dropped on an attempted tag at home plate. Another Bear error put runners on first and second with just one away before a double steal moved both Seminoles into scoring position. Rosentreter fanned another batter and then ended the inning on a harmless pop-up to second.
The game remained 1-1 into the fifth when Jacob got on base to start the inning for the second time, this time via a walk. The sophomore moved up a base on another Mercer passed ball before Davis drew Rosentreter’s third free pass of the game. With two runners on base and the meat of the FSU line-up coming up, the Bear pitcher recorded her sixth K for the first out and then recorded a force out at third. With two down, Palmer stepped up and broke the tie as she dropped a single into shallow right field plating LaShaun Davis for the 2-1 lead.
After retiring 11 straight Bears, Mercer started the fifth with their third hit of the game but they were unable to break through against Hunter who was dominant after giving up a run in the top of the first. Florida State looked for insurance in the sixth as the first two batters reached via bunt singles. Wade then cashed in as she doubled to deep right field clearing the bases and giving Hunter and FSU a 4-1 lead. After a wild pitch, Natasha Jacob drove in FSU’s fifth run on a ground out to third scoring pinch-runner Kim Hoffer.
In the second game of the doubleheader, No. 16 Florida State (6-0) won its 25th straight meeting with Mercer (3-2) and its 30th consecutive regular season game. All-American Jessica van der Linden picked up her third win of the year (3-0) and five different Seminoles recorded RBIs in the 8-2 win.
In the first start of her collegiate career, FSU freshman Amy Harrison breezed through the first inning registering her first collegiate strikeout as she set the Bears down in order. The Seminoles wasted no time getting on the board in the top of the second aided by two Bear errors. The only hit of the inning was an Elisa Vasquez bunt single.
An error in the top of the third opened the door for a Seminole insurance run. Tatiana George’s pop to shallow left was dropped and Jessica van der Linden followed with a single, putting runners on the corners. Lesley Palmer, who had an RBI in game one, came through again with a single over the third baseman’s glove and down the left field line. Freshman Liz Hall (0-0) stopped the bleeding as she retired the next two batters and kept the Seminole lead at 2-0.
Mercer looked to get back in the game versus Harrison in the bottom of the fourth as an error put the Bears lead-off hitter on base. After a deep drive to center was reeled in by van der Linden, Harrison gave up the first homer of her young career as Meghan Clark took the freshman deep over the center field wall tying the game 2-2. All-American van der Linden moved from center field and into the circle after the HR and ended the Mercer threat moving the game into the fifth.
Tatiana George took it upon herself to put the Tribe back in front in the top of the frame. The junior shortstop hammered a 0-1 Hall offering over the fence in left for her first home run of 2004. Hall went on to walk the next two batters she faced before Hall was replaced by Christine Mattice. The senior quickly ended the inning on a double play that retired the side.
Carey Galuppi came added to the FSU lead in the sixth. After a Carly Brieske walk, the sophomore laced a double down the left field line putting the Tribe in front 4-2. The Seminoles built on the lead and moved in front 6-2 thanks to a Veronica Wootson and van der Linden RBI.
In the top of the seventh, FSU continued to add runs as Carly Brieske started the inning off by drawing a walk. Beth Wade followed with her second double of the doubleheader as she scored Brieske from first on a shot off the wall in center. Katie Fricke then sacrificed Wade home after a wild pitch moved the senior up to the third base.
The Seminoles return to action this weekend when they host five softball powers at the Sunshine State Tournament. Florida State opens the tournament with No. 4 Oklahoma, Friday at 4:00 p.m where Graf will be honored for her 1000th NCAA win. The field also features No. 22 South Carolina, Illinois, Southern Miss and Western Kentucky. There is no admission charge for regular season games at the Seminole Softball Complex. For more information on the 2004 Seminole softball team, please log on to the official athletic website for FSU at www.seminoles.com.