Feb. 17, 2005
:: Leading Off ::
The 15/18th-ranked Florida State softball team continues its season this
weekend when it hosts the 2005 Sunshine State Tournament at the Seminole Softball Complex Fri., Feb. 18 – Sun., Feb. 20, 2005. South Carolina (6-3), Syracuse (1-0), and SE Louisiana (3-2) are participating and the first battle will take place on Friday at 11:00 a.m. between the Gamecocks and Lions. Fans should be advised that game times for the tournament have been adjusted for this weekend. A full schedule is listed below. The Seminoles enter the tournament with a 4-4 overall record after splitting with Georgia Southern Tuesday afternoon. The squad dropped the first contest 1-0 and rallied back in the second go-around behind the arm of freshman Tiffany McDonald (3-0, 0.82 ERA) to shutout the Eagles, 3-0. McDonald pitched a complete game, throwing seven innings of one-hit ball. The Tribe is ranked No. 18 in the latest NFCA/USA Today poll, and No. 15 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball rankings. South Carolina and Syracuse received points in this week’s polls.
:: Sunshine State Tournament Schedule ::
11:00 a.m. – South Carolina vs. SE Louisiana
1:00 p.m. – Florida State vs. South Carolina
3:00 p.m. Florida State vs. Syracuse
5:00 p.m. Syracuse vs. SE Louisiana
10:00 a.m. South Carolina vs. Syracuse
12:00 p.m. FSU vs. SE Louisiana
2:00 p.m. 1 vs. 4 (Playoff)
4:00 p.m. 2 vs. 3 (Playoff)
11:00 a.m. Championship Game
AVG: Natasha Jacob, .417
HITS: Natasha Jacob, 10
RUNS: Whitney Buckmon, 6
RBI: Tatiana George, 5
2B: Lesley Palmer, 4
3B: Natasha Jacob, 2
TB: Natasha Jacob, 15
WALKS: Natasha Jacob, 4
SBs: Whitney Buckmon, 4
ERA: Tiffany McDonald, 0.81
K’s: Casey Hunter, 38
WINS: Tiffany McDonald, 3
IP: Casey Hunter, 25.2
APPEARANCES: Casey Hunter, 5
:: Scouting South Carolina ::
South Carolina softball (6-3) suffered its first doubleheader sweep of the season Tuesday night as the Gamecocks lost 3-0 in game two to Virginia Tech. USC managed only two hits and had nine strikeouts against Tech starter Angela Tincher (2-1). Darcy Norem and Chrissy Schoonmaker accounted for USC’s two hits while Jessica Barnes (3-1) suffered her first loss of the year. Freshman outfielder Jessica Josker paces the offense with a .455 batting and .576 slugging percentage on the year, while Ashley Smith’s two home run’s leads the squad. In the circle, Barnes is 3-1 with a team-low 0.93 ERA. Current Seminole Softball Coach Megan Matthews Buning was a former pitching standout at USC from 1999-2002.
Florida State and South Carolina are tied at 19-19 in the all-time series that dates back to the 1985 season. The Gamecocks won two of the last three meetings, with FSU’s only victory coming last year, 3-1, at the NFCA Leadoff Classic.
:: Scouting SE Louisiana ::
The Lady Lions finished third at the first-ever Lion Classic last weekend at North Oak Park in Hammond. Southeastern opened the tournament with shutouts of Jackson State, Samford and Alcorn State, before closing the tourney with losses to Louisiana Tech and Troy State. Rebecca de la Garza was the leading hitter for Southeastern during the opening weekend, as she hit .438 to pace the Lady Lions. Senior catcher Karin Smith was right behind her, batting .357 with two home runs and four runs batted in. The school’s career home run leader, Smith leads the SLC with a .857 slugging percentage. Lisa Chapman (.333) and Kelli Gautreau (.300) were the other standout performers at the plate for Southeastern. Summer Delaneuville, the Southeastern ace, started off the season in midseason form, finishing the weekend with a 3-1 record and 32 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched. Freshmen Jessica Sander was also impressive in the circle for Southeastern, combining with Delaneuville for a season-opening no-hitter in the win over Jackson State.
The two schools have only met once in the past with Florida State owning a 1-0 advantage after beating the Lions 4-1 in 2003 at home.
:: Scouting Syracuse ::
For the first time in the six-year history of the program, the Syracuse softball team has received recognition in both of the collegiate softball polls. The Orange were listed among others receiving votes in both the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 and the USA Today/NFCA Top 25. The Orange is 1-0 on the season after defeating two-time defending national champion and third-ranked UCLA on Sunday, Feb. 13. SU’s 2-1 victory was its third against a ranked opponent in the last three years. Sophomore Courtney Mosch was the winning pitcher and hit the game-winning two-run home run against the Bruins. Freshman Erin Downey earned her first career save in her collegiate debut, throwing three innings of one-hit ball.
Florida State faced the Orange in 2001, 2002, and 2003, winning all three games. Two of them were at home, one was at a nuetral site.
:: Natasha Jacob Is Back ::
2004 All-Southeast Region member and junior left fielder Natasha Jacob has not missed a step since last year. The Coppell, Texas, native, is perhaps the only Seminole playing at the top of her game early in the season. She’s leading the team in batting (.417), slugging (.625), triples (2), walks (4) total plate appearances (30) and total bases (15). Of course, she has zero errors in left field considering during the three years she’s played at FSU, Jacob has logged just one miscue the entire time. As for the ACC, Jacob is seventh in batting, tied for first in triples, and third in on-base percentage, seventh in slugging percentage, and eight in total bases, respectively. At this rate, there’s no doubt Jacob will be a high contender for many postseason honors.
:: 4-4? So What’s Going On? ::
People familiar with the FSU history and its successful program has one question in mind lately…”What is going on with the team?” While there are no definite answers, a few things do factor into the equation. First of all, four freshmen have logged a considerable amount of playing time early in the season which automatically makes a team young and inexperienced at the collegiate level. In fact, Whitney Buckmon and Brittany Osmon have started all eight contests, respectively, and pitcher Tiffany McDonald has pitched 26.0 innings! The team is struggling at the plate, batting .239, and the three freshmen (Melissa Wood, Buckmon, Osmon) are averaging a .216 mark at the plate. The second thing worth mentioning is NFCA All-American second baseman Veronica Wootson has had a difficult sophomore campaign thus far, batting .190 (4-21). Last year, she had a team-second-best .335 average and finished 12th in the NCAA in runs and 14th in triples, as well as breaking every record imaginable for a freshman. Once VRON comes out of her slump, you can expect a dramatic spark for the entire FSU squad. Finally, errors are the most important reason FSU is 4-4 because in 3-of-4 losses, one error cost the team the game. FSU has already totaled 14 this season (that’s 1.75 a game)! It’s the small things that are allowing other squads to sneak up on the Seminoles, and once the bats start swinging and there are less errors logged, expect a big turnaround.
:: Bucks Is Truckin’ ::
Freshman center fielder Whitney Buckmon is playing all but like a rookie so far in the 2005 season. The leadoff hitter has a team-high six runs and four stolen bases. In fact, her numbers are so good she is making noise on the conference level as Bucks–as we like to call her–ranks second in the ACC (stolen bases) and seventh in runs scored.
:: George and Palmer Getting It Done ::
Team Co-Captains Tatiana George and Lesley Palmer are making the best of their senior season. George paces the team with five RBIs and Palmer has a team-high four doubles, which ranks as No. 2 in the ACC.