No. 18 FSU Hosts Sunshine Classic And Pitt This Week
Last week featured two great moments in Seminole softball history with head coach JoAnne Graf breaking the NFCA’s all-time wins record and sophomore Jessica van der Linden throwing a perfect game and eventually being named ACC Co-Player of the Week.
Win No. 1,125 wasn’t an easy one for Graf. The Seminoles battled Troy Cox Classic host New Mexico State to a 0-0 tie for six innings before senior Kimmy Carter’s ground out scored the game-winner. The run that would eventually secure Graf’s 1,125th win started innocently enough as Brandi Stuart drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch. After Elisa Velasco put down a perfect sacrifice bunt moving Stuart to second, the junior second baseman stole her 19th base of the year advancing to third with just one out in the inning. Carter then sent a grounder to second that allowed Stuart to come home with the eventual game-winner.
For van der Linden, last week’s Troy Cox Classic was a dream tournament. The reigning ACC Rookie of the Year dominated the competition. On top of her perfect game, she went 2-0 and didn’t allow a single earned run in 20 innings pitched. She registered a strike out to walk ratio of 5 to 1 and allowed an average of one hit every four innings pitched.
THIS WEEK”S OPPONENTS
MISSISSIPPI STATE (10-5-0): Mississippi State is currently ranked 22nd in the latest USAToday/NFCA poll. The Bulldogs have already recorded wins over four of the six ranked teams they have faced including defending national champion Arizona and top 10 teams Arizona State and Michigan. Mississippi State lost just one starter and one starting pitcher off of the 2001 squad that finished 3rd in the SEC West. MSU started off strong in last week’s prestigious NFCA Lead-off Classic by downing #5 Arizona State and #10 Michigan before losing its next three games to un-ranked UConn, #18 Alabama and #13 Fresno State. Florida State leads the all-time series with Mississippi State 4-1.
TEXAS (13-6-0): Texas is in the midst of a four-game winning streak after 2001 Gatorade National Player of the Year and future US Olympian Cat Osterman pitched the first perfect game in UT history versus Stephen F. Austin Tuesday. When Texas makes its first-ever trip to the Seminole Softball Complex, fans will see two familiar faces in the Longhorns’ dugout. Former Florida State assistant coach Connie Clark (1990-1995) is in her sixth season as varsity head coach with the Horns and has already led UT to a College World Series appearance. Another familiar face is ex-Seminole standout pitcher Marla Looper who joined Clark and is now in her third year with the Horns. Looper still holds the fifth-best career ERA in Florida State history. Texas leads the all-time series with Florida State 1-0.
KANSAS (4-6-0): Don’t let the Jayhawks record fool you, Kansas is a powerful team that has already played some of the nation’s best teams. The Jayhawks have already beaten a top 10 team in No. 9 Arizona State (3-2). They lost to No. 6 Cal, lost by one run to No. 11 Oregon State and then lost a two-run game versus Cal again. Kansas is tested and will be a formidable opponent this weekend. The KU softball team has two players hitting above .500 this season. Seren Settlemier is hitting .550 in six starts with a gaudy slugging percentage of .900. Teammate Christi Musser has started all 10 games and is hitting a whopping .520 with two doubles, a triple and two homers. Florida State leads the all-time series with Kansas 5-3.
PITTSBURGH (0-4-0): Pitt is off to a rough start but has also played quality competition and will have time to turn things around as they play seven games in a four-day stretch in Plant City, FL. The Panthers have already faced No. 8 Michigan and No. 17 Cal State Fullerton and they will see the Wolverines again in Plant City before heading to Tallahassee for the Seminole Invitational. Senior first baseman Kate Mitchell has led the charge for Pitt at the plate so far and is hitting .417 on the year and is slugging .750. The Panthers’ staff is struggling with a combined 7.22 ERA for the season. Florida State and Pittsburgh have never faced one another.
NONE IN SIX?
The Seminole pitching staff had quite a week. Not only did Jessica van der Linden throw a perfect game and go 15 1/3 innings without allowing a hit but the whole staff is on somewhat of a roll. After allowing just two earned runs to Texas Tech in the first game of the Troy Cox Classic, FSU pitchers have not allowed an earned run in their last six outings. They have gone 41 1/3 innings without giving up an earned run and the staff has seen its ERA shrink from 1.65 to 1.11. Included in that stretch have been three shutouts, a two-hitter, two one-hitters, a perfect game and 56 strike outs. They have also walked just 12 batters in that six game stretch and haven’t allowed a single extra base hit. Since hitting an ERA high of 1.75 February 15, the FSU pitching staff has shaved almost 2/3 of a run per game off of their collective ERA.
HONORS AND AWARDS
Jessica van der Linden had a dominating weekend for the Seminoles, which included her first career perfect game, a streak of 20 innings pitched without giving up an earned run, a 16 inning scoreless streak and a 13 inning hitless streak. At the plate, she was second on the team with a .471 average, led the team with a slugging percentage of .824 and she hit three doubles and a home run while recording three RBIs. In the seven inning win over Dayton, van der Linden was masterful in recording the fourth no-hitter of her young career. She matched a career high with 10 K’s versus New Mexico State in a 5-0 complete game win. She also allowed just two hits and walked just one batter. In the championship game versus Texas Tech, the Cerritos, CA native, coming off of a perfect game, held onto a no-hitter for 5 1/3 innings and did not allow a single earned run. She was equally as good at the plate this weekend in saving her two best games for the last day when the championship was on the line. Against Dayton and Texas Tech, she went 5-for-6, scored four runs, and had two RBIs, two doubles and a home run. In 17 at bats she struck out just one time and between pitching and playing in centerfield, she recorded 14 assists. On top of it all, she played all weekend while suffering through a bad case of the flu.
FLYING OUT OF THE PARK
The Seminoles’ bats limped in to last weekend’s Troy Cox Classic. The team was hitting a scant .248 coming in to the tourney but they seemed to have found their stroke in the cool dessert air. FSU left New Mexico with a batting average of .264 and a large part of that hike came against the Dayton Flyers. In just two games, the Seminoles hit .404 against Dayton and slugged .632 as a team. Senior Kimmy Carter led the offensive assault by going a perfect 4-for-4 with three runs scored, a double, a home run and three RBIs. She slugged an amazing 2.000 in the two games and she recorded eight total bases. The Seminole offense set six season-highs versus the Flyers including runs scored (12), hits (12), RBIs (7), home runs (2) and total bases (19).
On the flip side, the Seminole pitching staff totally dominated the Flyers. All three members of FSU’s staff got the opportunity to pitch versus Dayton and they held the Flyers to an unbelievable .027 batting average, which was 377 percentage points lower that the Seminoles average in the two games. Florida State pitchers allowed just one hit in the two shutouts and walked just two batters while striking out 23. In FSU’s 12-0, five-inning win, Leslie Malerich and freshman Casey Hunter combined to K 15 of the 18 Dayton batters they faced. They allowed just on ball to even get to the infielders as they walked two and gave up only one hit.
THEY WEREN’T DONE YET
Although the numbers weren’t as impressive as they were against Dayton, it is surprising how well the Seminoles stacked up against the Red Raiders despite losing two extra inning games at the hands of Tech. The Seminoles out-hit the Red Raiders (.290 to .219), out-slugged them (.371 to .250), out-pitched them (0.43 ERA to 2.47) and held a slight advantage in on base percentage (.338 to .320). Florida State also struck out fewer times (8 to 14). If you are wondering why the Seminoles lost those two games, it was because they lead in one category you never want to have an advantage in and that’s errors. Florida State committed seven errors compared to just two for Texas Tech.
SHE’S BEEN WADE-ING FOR THAT
Everybody knew it was just a matter of time before starting first baseman Beth Wade got her bat going but she came into the Troy Cox Classic hosted by New Mexico State just 1-for-17 on the season. Over the weekend, the redshirt sophomore came to life offensively and hit .444, scored a run and knocked in four RBIs. In FSU’s 12-0 win over Dayton, Wade went 2-for-3, with a double, a homer and a run scored. In the third inning, she came up to bat with the bases loaded and no outs. Wade took the first pitch she saw and crushed a drive over the fence in left. It was her first-ever home run and FSU’s first grand slam since the 2000 season when Brandi Stuart launched one in the bottom of the seventh to beat the Florida Gators 6-3.
WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?
It was hard to ask anything more of Jessica van der Linden than what she did in two losses to Texas Tech at the Troy Cox Classic last weekend. The sophomore dominated the eventual champions on the mound and at the plate. Van der Linden hit .571 with two doubles and she slugged .857 against the Red Raiders. She was on base almost 63% of the time and she scored two runs. She then started the would-be championship game on Sunday, which was her first start since her perfect game versus Dayton. The Cerritos, CA native pitched brilliantly in holding the Red Raiders without a hit for 5 1/3 innings increasing her streak to 13 innings with out allowing a hit. She seemed to be in line for her seventh win of the season before her defense let her down. After playing flawlessly behind her during her perfect outing, Seminole fielders committed six errors which resulted in eight unearned runs and squashed a 5-1 FSU lead in the bottom of the fifth and left van der Linden with nothing to show for her work.
IS THAT NORMAL?
Senior Kimmy Carter is having a normal year in many ways. She normally starts every game and that hasn’t changed. She normally hits around .300 and she’s doing that once again. She also seems to be on pace to hit her career averages for doubles, triples and home runs so that is all nice and normal for the stand-out catcher/outfielder. It isn’t until you slide your finger over to the RBI and slugging percentage columns that you see something that isn’t so normal. Carter has always been able to knock runs in and that is evidenced by her sitting in sixth place on FSU’s all-time list for RBIs but she is in the midst of a monster season that is even uncharacteristic for her and at her current pace it might even be uncharacteristic for her All-Star father Gary Carter. Carter is leading the team with 17 RBIs in just 20 games and is just four away from surpassing her total RBIs from her freshman season when she played in 49 games and made 46 starts. At her current pace, she will shatter the single season record of 49 set in 1992 by Penny Siqueiros. Carter is on a torrid pace that will give her 59 RBIs for the season if FSU plays as many games as it did last year. That would easily make her the Seminoles’ all-time RBI leader for a career. Driving in runs is usually a lot easier when your slugging .436 as is Carter. Her slugging percentage is currently 49 percentage points higher than her career average and if she stays above the .400 mark, it will be the first time she has accomplished that feat since her freshman season when she slugged .405.
On the subject of RBIs, FSU’s top four hitters, Brandi Stuart, Jessica van der Linden, Kimmy Carter and Monique Marier, are responsible for driving in more than 75% of the team’s runs this season. This group has knocked in 49 of Florida State’s 65 RBIs. While the coaching staff would probably like to have a little more parity among the line-up as far as RBIs go, they must be happy to have these four producing like they have so far this season.
SHE IS STILL PERFECT
We should be used to this by now but once again left fielder Monique Marier is the only Seminole starter who has yet to make an error. The junior college transfer was perfect during the 2001 season in 43 chances and 64 starts and she is yet to make an error this season. In her career, Marier has a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in 50 chances. With the rash of errors by the Seminole defense as of late, it is nice to know Mo is patrolling left field.
Although almost every program in the nation covets left-handed pitchers they are pretty rare. Florida State has its own left-handed ace in Jessica van der Linden and she is dominating teams but FSU doesn’t seem to mind facing southpaws and they have fared pretty well against the opposite arms this season. As a team, the Seminoles are batting .393 against left-handed pitchers, which is 136 percentage points higher than how they fare against righties. Only one FSU hitter who has faced a southpaw is hitting below .300. Kimmy Carter and Shandra Colzie are both hitting .500 in four at bats versus left-handers. Julie Jordan, Jessica van der Linden and Becky Brock are each perfect versus left-handed hurlers.
SHE GOT IT! 1,125 WINS
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.
She now owns the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) record for career victories with 1,125 and did it in almost five fewer years than former 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.
Is this a coincidence or what? Just as Dr. JoAnne Graf makes 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 in the Seminole Challenge, coach Graf and the Seminoles welcomed another coaching legend. 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.
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 Seminoles have already played more Top 25 teams in 20 games this season than they did all of last year. Florida State has already faced No. 12 Washington, No. 25 South Carolina, No. 20 Florida Atlantic and No. 21 Georgia. The Seminoles are scheduled to face No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 17 Cal State Fullerton and No. 22 Mississippi State. Depending on tournament play, FSU could also meet up with No. 2 Arizona, No. 12 Washington again, No. 9 Arizona State, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 8 Michigan, No. 13 Fresno State, No. 24 Notre Dame and No. 19 Louisiana-Lafayette. The Seminoles will see No. 22 Mississippi State at this weekend’s Sunshine Classic Tournament.
Senior Kimmy Carter is just 64 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 106 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 32 runs away after scoring 38 times in 2001. Stuart has two seasons to secure the 24 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 43 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 one 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). Marier is just 7 away from reaching the all time list while van der Linden is 3 away. 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.
Brandi Stuart 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 2 to break onto the all-time list. Stuart is just 13 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.
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:
Malerich is now FSU’s all-time leader in appearances after her start versus FAMU February 27th. She surpassed teammate Jen White-Stokes by making the 136th appearance of her career.
She is currently fourth on the list with 743 innings pitched. She is just 13.1 innings away from tying White-Stokes for third. Debbie DeJohn owns the FSU recorded with 798, which puts Malerich just 55 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 is over.
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 12 wins away from becoming the winningest pitcher in FSU history and she has averaged 30 wins over the past two seasons.
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 563 K’s but she is still 271 behind the all-time leader (Julie Larsen).
Malerich has already recorded 35 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 this season to get on this list.
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.
GUNNING FOR YOU
Would-be base stealers have always had to be aware when Kimmy Carter was behind the plate and nothing has changed this season. The senior co-captain has already thrown out six of the 14 runners who have tried to steal off of her. In 70 games last year, Carter threw out a total of 10 base runners. She is already more than half way to that number through just 13 games.
ALWAYS REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME
Freshman Casey Hunter recorded the first two wins of her Seminole career at the Seminole Classic Tournament. The Millstadt, IL native threw 117 pitches in a complete game win over Syracuse picking up the Seminoles after they dropped the day’s first game versus Georgia. The game also marked the first start at catcher in 2002 for sophomore Julie Jordan. Jordan seems to have fully recovered from a back injury that sidelined her for 53 games last season and she is also finding her stroke at the plate. She is hitting .273 and has scored a run in four starts.
Hunter picked up her second win of the tournament on the final day. She started FSU’s last game against St. John’s pitching three innings of shutout ball before running into trouble in the fourth, which led to another first of sorts. Senior All-American Leslie Malerich came in to garner the save, which was her first in more than a year.