February 14, 2002 - by
No. 15 FSU Softball Plays Five This Weekend

Feb. 14, 2002

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The 15th-ranked Seminole softball team (5-3) is coming off of a tough weekend where they faced some of the nation’s top competition. The Seminoles went 1-3 against No. 9 Washington, No. 22 South Carolina, FAU and Louisville but lost those three games by a combined eight runs and in those three losses FSU stranded 31 base runners. One big hit in any of those three games could have made the difference between a 3-1 weekend and 1-3 home stand. That was never more evident than against South Carolina. All-Everything second baseman Brandi Stuart came up in the fifth with a runner on first and second and sent a laser to deep right field that was snared by the Gamecock right fielder as she crashed into the wall. Stuart comes up two innings later, this time with FSU down 4-0 and no one on and sends another shot to the exact same part of the field that falls in for a double. It was just that kind of weekend.


Florida State got back on the positive side of the column against Louisville to finish the tournament and will look to build on that success as they welcome in Maryland (3-2), Penn State (0-0), St. Johns (0-0), Syracuse (0-0) and Georgia (10-0) to this weekend’s Seminole Classic Tournament.


SEMINOLE CLASSIC FIELD


GEORGIA (10-0-0): The Bulldogs are off to the best start in team history and are in the midst of their longest winning streak ever (10 in-a-row). Dating back to the 2001 season, Georgia has now won 22 of its last 24 games. The Dogs have won their first 10 by a combined score of 49-14 including two wins over a resurgent FIU program and a sweep of SEC-rival Kentucky. Lacey Gardner has been Georgia’s ace on the mound this season garnering half of UGA’s 10 wins with an ERA of just 0.44. At the plate, the Seminole Classic field needs to be careful when facing slugger Michelle Tyree. The junior right fielder is batting .448 and has hit four doubles, a triple and a home run for a team-leading .759 slugging percentage. She is also averaging more than one RBI per game.


MARYLAND (3-2-0): The Terps are off to a 3-2 start after beginning their season at the Crimson Tide’s Bama Bash. Maryland swept Samford (11-1, 4-0), split with Evansville (4-3, 2-4) and lost 3-0 to Alabama. The Terps ended the weekend by winning the consolation game versus Samford. Maryland centerfielder Samantha Sweeney earned ACC Softball Player of the Week honors after her performance in Bama Bash. The redshirt-sophomore batted .533 for the week and posted a .611 on-base percentage. She added two doubles, a triple, four runs scored, two RBI and four stolen bases in being named to the Bama Bash all-tournament team.


PENN STATE (0-0-0): This is the Nittany Lions first action of the 2002 season after making the program’s second-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance in 2001. PSU returns just four starters in the field and one starting pitcher. Outfielder Megan Humphrey should be the Lions biggest threat at the plate in 2002. The junior is coming off of a campaign that saw her hit .351 with 30 runs, 15 doubles, 33 RBIs and a .518 slugging percentage.


ST. JOHNS (0-0-0): The Red Storm open their season in the Seminole Classic this weekend. St Johns returns seven starters from a 2001 squad that posted a 30-31 record. Senior outfielder Kelly Houghton should be the Red Storm’s top power threat as she comes off a season that saw her hit .239 with nine homers and 33 RBIs. Junior hurler Courtney Fitzgerald will set the pace on the mound for SJU after posting a 1.96 ERA last season with a 16-14 record.


SYRACUSE (0-0-0): As is the case with many of the Northern schools, the Orangewomen have flown south to open up their 2002 season. This is just the third season of Syracuse softball and the Orangewomen are coming off of a 19-28 campaign in 2001. SU returns six starters including junior OF Christina Holowich who hit .316 last season and was named 2nd-team All-BIG EAST. The Orangewomen lost their top RBI producer (Missy Bieman) to graduation.


HITTING IN E MAJOR


Sophomore Elisa Velasco (know as ‘E’ to her teammates) blew-up last weekend and rebounded from a tough 0-of-7 start to raise her average 316 percentage points at last weekend’s Seminole Challenge. The Hesperia, CA native turned things around by going 6-for-12 with a double and three RBIs versus top competition last weekend. She slugged .583 for the tourney, drew two walks, had an on base percentage of .533 and had a perfect fielding percentage (1.000) starting at catcher and first. She led the team last weekend with a .571 average with runners on and an even more impressive .667 average with runners in scoring position. She also hit .600 when batting with two outs in an inning and is advanced runners successfully over 66% of the time.


Considering she started 0-for-7, Velasco’s current season to date stats are impressive. She is second on the team with a .316 batting average, tied for third with one double, tied for second with seven total bases, second on the team with a .368 slugging percentage, tied for second with six hits, third with a .391 on base percentage and tied for third with three RBIs. Her .333 average with runners on is second on the team and she leads the squad hitting .400 with runners in scoring position.


JUST 7 WINS AWAY


There is no doubting what head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf has accomplished in her 23 seasons at Florida State. The one and only coach in Seminole softball history has won two slowpitch national titles, taken FSU to 14 NCAA Regionals and five Women’s College World Series, won eight ACC Titles, coached 21 All-Americans, been named ACC Coach of the Year four times and never had a single losing season in 23 years. While every one of those feats is impressive, none can match the record she is about to set.


With just 7 more wins, Graf will break the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) record for career victories and will do it in almost five fewer years than the current record holder Judi Garman of Cal St. Fullerton. Graf entered the 2002 season with 1113 wins of which 894 have come during fastpitch competition. She also appears in the top 10 of every NCAA coaching record and is in the top 4 in five of those six categories.


IMPRESSIVE COMPANY


Is this a coincidence or what? Just as Dr. JoAnne Graf prepares to make softball history this season, she will have the opportunity to face as many as three other coaches that appear on the NFCA top 10 All-Time wins list.


After facing USC coach Joyce Compton and her 804 wins at last weekend’s Seminole Challenge, coach Graf and the Seminoles will welcome another coaching legend Friday. Georgia coach Lu-Harris-Champer is currently the seventh-winningest active coach by percentage and sits just four spots behind coach Graf on that list. Graf had a career winning percentage of .765 entering the season while Champer stood at .735


Coach Graf will also face Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso, who is fourth on the NCAA’s Winningest Active Coaches list (by percentage), when FSU travels to one of the nation’s toughest tournaments at the vaunted Kia Classic. Depending how things go at the Kia, Graf could also run into Arizona coach Mike Candrea (No. 2) and Fresno’s Margie Wright (No. 6) who both appear on that same list.


TOUGH ENOUGH?


After weather forced the cancellation of games versus Cal State Fullerton and possible match-ups with Utah and Michigan at the Tallahassee Democrat/Seminole Invitational last season, FSU faces an ever more daunting schedule in 2002.


The 15th-ranked Seminoles are scheduled to face No. 7 and 2001 College World Series participant Oklahoma, No. 9 Washington, No. 10 Cal-State Fullerton and No. 22 South Carolina. Florida State will also face four other teams that are receiving votes in the first USAToday/NFCA Preseason Poll. The Seminoles are slated to play Texas (No. 27), Florida Atlantic (No. 30), North Carolina (No. 31) and Virginia (No. 33).


It is possible FSU could also end up facing No. 1 and defending National Champion Arizona, No. 11 Michigan, No. 12 Nebraska and No. 16 Fresno State. That is a total of eight ranked teams and three College World Series teams from 2001. The Seminoles will see 13 opponents that played in the 2001 NCAA Tourney.


RECORD WATCH


Senior Kimmy Carter is just 59 games away from entering the all-time games played list for FSU Softball. She has averaged 66 games per year in her three years with the team.


Carter is also 137 at bats away from becoming a career leader for Florida State in that category. She has averaged 180 at bats per season in her previous three years.


Carter and junior Brandi Stuart are both nearing career records for runs scored. Carter is 38 runs away after scoring 38 times in 2001. Stuart has two seasons to secure the 34 runs she needs to make it on to the list. At her current pace, Stuart will end up second all-time by the time her career is over with 178 runs.


Carter and Stuart should both find themselves on FSU’s career list for hits by the time the season is over. Carter needs just 51 this season after posting 64 her junior year. Stuart could end up as FSU’s All-Time hits leader when all is said and done. At her current pace she would finish her career with 304 hits, which is just six hits shy of No. 1 on the list.


Carter, Stuart, Jessica van der Linden and Monique Marier are also zeroing on the record for all-time doubles after the 2001 squad set a record with 93 last season. Carter is just two away from making it on the list and if she repeats her effort of nine from 2001 she will end up third on the all-time list. Marier and van der Linden each launched 14 last year (the second most in team history) and are just 9 away from reaching the all time list. Van der Linden is on pace to shatter the record of 38 after her record freshman season. Stuart is also on pace to take over first after recording 18 doubles in just two seasons.


The same duo of Carter and Stuart are also nearing the triples record. Carter is two away and Stuart has two seasons to record eight more.


Brandi Stuart has already amassed 81 steals in just two seasons. She is fifth on the all-time steals list and is projected to finish third All-Time with 144 swipes.


Here they go again. Carter and Stuart are closing in on the all-time RBI record also. At her current pace, Carter could finish her career tied for fourth and needs just 14 to break onto the all-time list. Stuart is just 21 away from making the RBI list and has posted 36 RBIs in back-to-back seasons. If she does that over the next two years, Stuart will end up FSU’s all-time RBI leader.


ALL-TIME BEST


While Brandi Stuart and Kimmy Carter are in the midst of launching an offensive assault against the Florida State record book, Leslie Malerich is doing the same but from the mound. The senior All-American, barring unforeseen circumstances, will end up on every all-time list in the Florida State history. She already appears on three of the five lists and has a shot to end up No. 1 in most of the categories. Here is a look at where she currently stands:


Appearances:
Malerich is currently second all-time and just moved into sole possession after her two starts versus Georgia Southern and Mercer. Her 128 appearances are just seven shy of tying the career mark set last season by Jen White-Stokes.


Innings Pitched:
She is currently fifth on the list with 700.1 innings pitched. Debbie DeJohn owns the FSU recorded with 798, which puts Malerich just 98 innings behind the former Seminole star. Malerich has never pitched less than 145 innings in a season so she will likely own that record also when the 2002 season comes to an end.


Wins:
This is the only all-time pitching record that the All-American hasn’t cracked into yet but she will probably end up No. 1 after 2002. Malerich is just 16 wins away from becoming the winningest pitcher in FSU history and she has averaged 30 wins over the past two seasons.


Strikeouts:
This is one of just two categories Malerich probably won’t finish No. 1 but she will end up in the top four. She currently sits fourth on the list with 525 K’s but she is still 509 behind the all-time leader (Julie Larsen). Malerich secured the six strikeouts she needed to take over fourth place in the opener versus GSU and she can now set her sights on Toni Guiterrez (648 K’s).


Shutouts:
Malerich has already recorded 33 shutouts in her career and if she just makes her average of 11, she will become one of the career leaders in this category also. She could conceivably move up to third if she matches her career-high total of 16 shutouts set during her junior season.


Earned Run Average:
This might be the toughest category of all for the senior. Despite a sparkling 0.72 ERA last season, she still needs to drop her career ERA from 1.24 to 0.84 to get on this list.



MO’ POWER


When senior Monique Marier came to FSU last season as a Junior College transfer and the leading home run hitter in the nation in 1999, people expected to see some power and Marier didn’t disappoint. She led FSU in homers (6), RBIs (38), slugging percentage (.565) and she had the second-most doubles in a season with 14. Unlike many power hitters around the nation, Marier also hit for average during her first season of D1 softball as evidenced by her .313 average, fifth on the team. After ‘adjusting’ to the D1 game last year, its scary to think what she will have in store for 2002.


THAT SOUNDS FAMILIAR


If the last name of two of FSU’s newcomers, Shandra and Shundra Colzie, sounds familiar, it should. The twins from Miami are the sisters of four-time letterwinner James Colzie who played football at Florida State from 1993-96. Colzie played in 10 of the Seminoles 11 games as a senior in 1996 and was tied for the team lead with three interceptions. James Colzie is currently the defensive backs coach for the FIU Golden Panthers who will play their first season of football this fall.


WEST SIDE


With the addition of California natives Tatiana George and Bryttani Lindheim, one-third of FSU’s roster is now made up of Cali-kids. The West Coast has long been fertile ground for the nation’s top softball players and FSU has increased its presence in the area especially over the last two seasons. In 2001, the Seminoles landed three top prospects from the Golden State in Julie Jordan, Elisa Velasco and ACC Rookie of the Year Jessica van der Linden. They joined All-American junior Brandi Stuart who hails from Cerritos, CA. With seven players from the state of Florida, California is gaining on the Sunshine State when it comes to Seminole Softball.


DOUBLE DARE YA


The 2001 season was a great one for Seminole softball in many aspects. The team was ranked from wire-to-wire once again and made a return trip to an NCAA Regional final. The Seminoles also captured the NCAA’s ERA crown but what this team did when it came to doubles was amazing.


In 2001, FSU shattered the team’s doubles record set in 1999 when the squad hit 71 on the season. Last year’s team hit an amazing 93. The 2001 Seminoles also had two players come within two doubles of tying the all-time record for doubles in a season when Monique Marier and Jessica van der Linden each hit 14 two-baggers.


BRANDI’S WORLD


Junior All-American Brandi Stuart is on the verge of re-writing the FSU record books and she still has two seasons left. The newly elected co-captain is coming off her best season ever and has a chance to own almost every offensive record in Seminole softball history.


After a stellar rookie campaign, Stuart improved in almost every category during the 2001 campaign. She raised her batting average 12 percentage points from .349 to .361, scored 10 more runs (49 versus 39), doubled her doubles (from 6 to 12) and hit more than twice as many homeruns (5 compared to 2). She equaled her RBI total of 36 and raised her slugging percentage from .442 to .515, an increase of 73 percentage points. She also cut down on her strikeouts by almost 38% (from 34 to 21). Stuart also was more patient at the plate garnering 11 more walks in 2001 (28 versus 17).


Another area of Stuart’s game that is often overlooked is her ability to steal bases. In two seasons, she has amassed 72 swipes. That is just 25 behind All-American Serita Brooks’ total from her two years at Florida State and she is considered by many to be one of the top base-stealers in Seminole history. Brooks currently holds three different NCAA records for stolen bases.


At her current pace, Stuart will finish in the top two for runs scored, first in doubles, fifth in triples, third in steals and first in RBIs amongst FSU’s all-time leaders. She would single-handedly wipe away almost 20 years of history. That’s impressive.


SEASON HIGHS AND LOWS


FSU’s 4-2 loss to Florida Atlantic was unique considering FSU set six different season highs in the game. On the positive side, the Seminoles set season highs with eight walks, two sacs, 14 assists and just two walks allowed. On the flip side, FSU struck out a season-high 13 times, left 13 runners on base and equaled a high for wild pitches with one.


WHAT TO LOOK FOR


The Seminoles have an All-Time record of 21-3 (.875) against this weekend’s Seminole Classic opponents. Florida State is 1-0 versus Syracuse, 3-0 versus Penn State, 3-1 versus Georgia and 14-2 versus Maryland. This will be the first-ever meeting between St. Johns and Florida State.


If last year is any indication, Brandi Stuart should extend the blazing start she got off to in her first two weeks of action. As a sophomore last season, Stuart hit .400 in five games versus the Terps with a double, two homers, 6 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .867. One of those homers was an 11th-inning game winner in the ACC Tournament. She also went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored in the Seminoles only meeting with Syracuse last season. Leslie Malerich was a Terp killer on the mound last season going 3-0 with two complete games, two shutouts and 15 K’s. She also held Maryland to a .167 team batting average.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT


In a rather small ceremony after Saturday’s 4-1 win over Louisville, Seminole sophomore Jessica van der Linden was awarded her Pitcher of the Tournament trophy by the Puerto Rican National Team coaching staff. The Cerritos, CA native won the award after going 4-2 and helping Puerto Rico qualify for the 2003 Pan American Games and the 2002 World Championships. She traveled with the squad to Venezuela to compete in the qualifier.


MORE ON JESS


Senior All-American Leslie Malerich will see the bulk of the action for FSU in 2002 against the Seminole’s toughest competition as she did against No. 9 Washington and No. 22 Florida Atlantic last weekend. Malerich will get the short end of the stick statistically by going up against the toughest teams but Jessica van der Linden will also play a crucial role. The reigning ACC Rookie of the Year is off to a great start in 2002 despite getting the start against tougher opponents this year than she did as a rookie. Van der Linden drew the start versus a very good FAU team this past weekend and despite the loss, she is off to a great start.


Van der Linden is currently 3-1 with a 0.75 ERA on the season and has pitched four complete games. She has recorded a shutout and already pitched two two-hitters. She has allowed just three earned runs and has struck out 31 batters, which leads the team. Van der Linden is also holding opposing batters to a .115 average. She has been especially tough on lefties too, holding them to a minuscule .105 batting average. She is also limiting batters to a .128 average with runners on. When it comes to closing out an inning, van der Linden is unmatched. Opposing teams are hitting .032 against her with two outs.


CRAZY EIGHTS


Brandi Stuart’s hot start has been fully covered but one other great stat has fallen through the cracks. The junior has a hit in all eight games this season. She is the only Seminole with a hitting streak longer than three games this season. She has already surpassed her longest streak from last season (six on two occasions) and is in the midst of the second longest hitting streak since the start of the 2001 campaign. In fact, Stuart has been held to only one hit in a game just twice in eight starts this season, which means she already has six multi-hit games on the year. That would rank as the ninth most multi-hit games for a season based on the 70 games played in 2001.


WHICH WAS BETTER


2001 was one of the top seasons in the 23-year history of Seminole softball and the team begun that campaign by getting off to a quick start and posting a 7-1 record out of the gate. That team didn’t have to face the level of competition that the 2002 squad faced in the first eight games but despite the respective schedule strengths, there isn’t that great of a statistical difference between how the 2001 and 2002 squads started their seasons.


Looking at the stats, the three biggest areas of concern when looking at a snapshot of the two starts is the amount of runners left on base, the team’s batting average with runners on base and the team’s ERA. The ERA is not such a great concern due to the fact the Seminoles played three teams that are among the best in the nation and Leslie Malerich and Jessica van der Linden both pitched well against strong competition. Getting the timely hit FSU needed was probably the biggest concern at last week’s Seminole Challenge, which is evidenced by the amount of runners left on and the .245 batting average with runners on base. FSU is getting people on though as evidenced by a team batting average of .245 and a whopping on-base percentage of .351.

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