April 26, 2002
Florida State is continuing to show that it is ready to make a run at the school’s ninth ACC Title and 15th NCAA Tournament appearance. The Seminoles showed a lot of guts and determination last weekend as they moved to 4-0 in the conference with a sweep of defending ACC Champion UNC.
Florida State got off to a rocky start against North Carolina as it fell behind 3-0 after just a half of an inning. The same thing happened against the Gators earlier in the week and FSU never threatened to get back into that game. That wasn’t the case versus UNC. The Seminoles fought back and eventually took a 6-5 lead. The Tar Heels tied the game again but FSU came back for a second time and won the game in eight innings.
The Garnet and Gold continued to fight for the regular season conference title in the second game of the twin bill. This time, FSU jumped out to the early lead but were trailing in the sixth after a furious comeback by UNC. Florida State answered with a five-run bottom of the sixth and swept the Tar Heels. They will need to show the same desire this week with a regional opponent in Jacksonville State on the horizon.
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT
JACKSONVILLE STATE (32-13-0): Another key regional series for the Seminoles as they make a run at the program’s 15th NCAA appearance. Jacksonville State is No. 9 the latest NCAA South Region rankings. Last year’s meeting between the teams was the first ever. The Gamecocks and Seminoles played a 10-inning epic in Alabama with the Tribe eventually winning 4-1, The Seminoles took game two 12-2 to sweep the twin bill. Tera Ross (14-6, 1.99 ERA) pitched all ten innings against the Seminoles last season. FSU has yet to face Gamecock ace Veronica Davis who is 13-5 this year with a 1.02 ERA. JSU has an impressive team ERA of 1.60. The Gamecocks hit a dismal .118 versus FSU in two games last season and the only player who had any success was this year’s leading hitter Renee Hasan. She only went 1-for-6 but drove in JSU’s only two RBIs of the twin bill. This season, Hasan is leading the team with a .322 average. JSU’s top power hitter is Andrea Tomey who leads the team in slugging (.482), RBIs (24), HRs (7t) and doubles (9t). FSU leads the all-time series with Jacksonville State 2-0.
PUTTING THE SOUTH IN ORDER
No matter how much fun it is to look at the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 each week, when it comes to getting into the NCAA Tournament, that poll means very little. The NCAA selection committee doesn’t use those rankings to determine tournament inclusion. They do however use a regional poll and it is the best glimpse of what the selection comittee is thinking throughout the season. The rankings were released for the first time three weeks ago and Florida State has been in the top 10 in the south region both weeks. The week was the first time the NCAA released regional rankings that placed teams in a 1-10 rank order. The previous two regional polls only placed teams alphabetically. This week the Seminoles came in at No. 2 in the region just behind Florida Atlantic. Last season, only four teams from the south region made it to the NCAA’s and three of those four teams qualified via automatic bid. There is no automatic bid for FSU this season so their place in these all-important regional rankings has never been more pronounced. The Seminoles will have a chance to make a run at first in the region with doubleheaders against No. 9 Jacksonville State, No. 4 Virginia, No. 7 Troy State and No. 1 FAU still on the horizon. The Tribe has already registered wins against No. 3 Georgia Tech, No. 5 UCF and No. 8 North Carolina. Overall, Florida State has played 23 games versus 19 regionally ranked teams and has posted a 7-5 record versus teams ranked in the top five in their region. In the South, FSU is 5-2 versus the top 10 and 15-2 overall.
SOUTH REGION RANKINGS 1. Florida Atlantic (52-8) 2. FLORIDA STATE (41-14) 3. Georgia Tech (41-15) 4. Virginia (43-17) 5. UCF (39-16) 6. Stetson (39-8) 7. Troy State (41-15) 8. North Carolina (29-23) 9. Jacksonville State (32-13) 10. Chattanooga (31-13) opponent
STREAK AND PEAK
It seems Florida State is ready to peak at the right time. Of the Seminoles next 10 games, all of them are against a team in the ACC or in the South Region. Florida State announced that it is ready for the stretch run by sweeping Georgia Tech and North Carolina. The Jackets came into Tallahassee undefeated in the ACC while UNC was the defending conference champions. Florida State is now 10-1 in its last 11 games and has moved to 15-2 in regional games.
Just as the games are getting more important every week for the Seminoles, No. 21 FSU is on a 10-1 run with seven of the wins coming within the all-important South Region. One of the main reasons for the Tribe’s success as of late has to be the improved play of Shandra and Shundra Colzie. The twins have been just spectacular as of late. They combined to hit 335 percentage points higher in the last 10 games compared to the rest of the season. Shundra has an average of .464 over the last ten games compared to .282 coming in to this stretch. Shandra was hitting .207 but over the same stretch of 10 games has hit .360. They have also completely turned around their slugging percentages. Shandra has slugged 193 percentage points higher in the last 10 games (.207 vs. .400) while Shundra is an amazing 400 percentage points higher (.386 vs. .786). It is obvious why the Colzie’s slugging percentage is up by a combined 593 percentage points when you look at what they have done in the last 10 games versus the previous 45. They have 32 total bases in this stretch versus 48 previously, three triples compared to none and three home runs compared to one. The twins had combined for 10 RBIs in the first 45 games of the season, yet in just the last ten games they have combined for half of that total. They have also scored 32 runs as of late compared to 48 through the first 45 games. Shundra and Shandra have also combined to raise their fielding percentage from .821 to 1.000.
Senior Monique Marier, who is featured on this week’s game day poster and page two story, is really making a big time contribution as of late. Since her mother’s near-fatal accident a month ago (see poster link above), Marier has a new outlook on life and the game of softball. Her more relaxed approach to the game is paying off on the field. In the last 10 games since the accident, Marier is hitting .310 and she has more doubles, home runs and RBIs over that stretch than anyone on the team. In those 29 at bats she has just three strikeouts. Against rivals Florida and North Carolina, Marier hit .385, slugged 1.000, had two doubles, two home runs, scored two runs and knocked in six RBIs. Add to that a game-saving catch in the seventh versus UNC and it was a big week for the senior outfielder.
Redshirt-sophomore Beth Wade has been coming up with some key hits as of late, which have driven in some big RBIs. The first baseman has driven in six of her 13 runs in the last nine games. She also has two of FSU’s last seven game-winning RBIs. The first came in an 18-3 shelling of Florida A&M. Her second was in a 7-3 win over a Georgia Tech team that was 6-0 in the ACC. Wade’s two-out, two-run double down the left field line gave FSU a lead they would never relinquish.
ON THE HUNT
Freshman Casey Hunter has had limited opportunities this season as she learns from All-American Leslie Malerich and ACC Rookie of the Year Jessica van der Linden but the Illinois native really showed something in a relief appearance versus Florida. With FSU down 7-0 after two innings, Hunter made a relief appearance and was masterful. She one-hit the Gators over five innings while issuing just two walks and fanning seven batters. Hunter struck out the side in the fourth and retired UF in order in three of her five innings. The outing was a big confidence boost for the freshman who will be counted on next season.
Despite the fact that everyone who wears Garnet and Gold was pulling for FSU to sweep rival Florida, astute observers knew that probably wouldn’t be the case. In the five years the series has taken place, the two teams have split every time except for once. The lone variation came last season as the Seminoles took two from UF in Gainesville and then beat the Gators again in Tallahassee eliminating them from the NCAA Tournament. Florida State leads the all-time series 7-4 but the two teams are 4-4 against one another without the 2001 sweep figured in.
Senior Monique Marier had a huge week as FSU went 3-1 versus rivals UF and UNC. The senior outfielder hit .385, slugged 1.000, had two doubles, two home runs, scored two runs, knocked in six RBIs and made a game-saving catch while crashing into the outfield wall in the top of the seventh to clinch the sweep of UNC. She also had the game-winning RBI in the eight inning of the first meeting between the Seminoles and Tar Heels. After hitting her fourth home run of the season to help FSU avoid a shut out at the hands of rival Florida, the Tampa native exploded against the Heels. She was the biggest factor in FSU’s sweep of the defending ACC Champions. In two games, Marier hit .571, had two doubles, a home run, knocked in five RBIs, slugged 1.286 and scored a run. In the first game of the twin bill, FSU was down 5-2 as the game entered the bottom of the fifth. Marier’s perfect sacrifice bunt knocked in her first RBI of the game and evened the score at 5-5. Marier came up again in the bottom of the eighth with the score tied 6-6. With the bases loaded and one out, she singled up the middle knocking in her third game-winning RBI of the season. In game two, Marier started the game by laying down another key sacrifice bunt in a three-run second inning. In her next at bat, Marier hit her first of back-to-back doubles, with the next one leading off the fifth. Florida State was up 4-1 at that point but watched as UNC came back to take a one-run lead as the game headed into the bottom of the sixth. The Seminoles scored two runs to move out to a 6-5 lead and still had runners on second and third with one out. Marier launched a blast over the wall in right center and the three-run homer extended FSU to a 9-5 lead. The Seminoles need all of those runs as UNC promptly loaded the bases in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Erica Ennis sent a deep shot to left field that fell inches shy of clearing the fence and tying the game. Marier, tracking the ball all the way to the wall, crashed into the outfield fence as she made the catch and ended the game for FSU.
When the dreaded Gators came into the Seminole Softball Complex and beat FSU in game one of the doubleheader, it not only ended a season-long seven game win streak but it was also the Seminole’s first loss during the week (Mon. – Thurs.) this season. The Tribe was 12-0 when playing on those four days before UF also ended that streak. The Seminoles did get a measure of revenge in game two with a 6-1 win. Florida State is now 13-1 when they play a game between Mon. and Thurs. but also have played very well on Saturday where they are 15-4. The worst day of the week for the Garnet and Gold has been Sunday where they have a record of just 5-4. That trend will have to change with regional-opponent Jacksonville State coming in for a twin bill this coming Sunday afternoon.
Florida State continues to hold a prominent place in the latest NCAA statistics. The Seminoles, either individually or as a team, appear amongst the nation’s leaders in six different categories. Florida State made its second straight appearance amongst the nation’s leaders for won/loss percentage. Florida State has the 26th-best winning percentage in the country at .745. Leading the way for FSU amongst the nation’s statistical leaders is junior Brandi Stuart and senior Leslie Malerich. Stuart is still fourth in the nation in steals per game at 0.82 and currently sits at No. 35 in the nation with a .405 batting average. Malerich is tied for fourth in the nation for victories with her 24 wins and only three pitchers in the country have more wins than the senior. She is holding ground with some pretty lofty company as she is currently tied with Arizona’s Jennie Finch and ASU’s Erica Bunch. Freshman Casey Hunter and Malerich rank 29th with the sixth most saves in the country this year with three. After capturing the NCAA’s ERA title last season, the Seminoles are once again amongst the nation’s best staffs. Their 1.39 staff ERA ranks as the 24th-best ERA in the nation this season.
WINNING PERCENTAGE Florida State No. 26
VICTORIES L. Malerich No. 4
TEAM ERA Florida State No. 24
STEALS B. Stuart No. 4
BATTING AVERAGE B. Stuart No. 35
SAVES C. Hunter No. 29 L. Malerich No. 29
Florida State continued its assault on the record book against Georgia Tech when it comes to the most prolific home runs hitting teams in school history. Florida State broke the all-time record for home runs in a season in game one versus Georgia Tech and it came from a pretty unlikely source. Junior college transfer Shundra Colzie led off the game by taking a 2-2 pitch over the left field fence for her fourth HR of the year and FSU 24th of the season. The previous record of 23 was set 10 years ago by the 1992 squad that ended the season in the College World Series. The Seminoles added to their all-time mark when Brandi Stuart tied the record for homers in a single season with her 10th of the year. She is now tied with Tiffany Daniels who also hit 10 in 1987. Stuart will have at least 16 more games to try to become the most prolific single season home run hitter in FSU history.
THE THIRD WAS GOOD
All season long, the third inning has been traditionally deadly for Florida State opponents. The Seminoles have scored the most runs (60) and allowed the fewest (8) in the third compared to all other innings. That trend held up against Georgia Tech as FSU out scored the Yellow Jackets 4-1 in the third but more importantly, Florida State won both games on hits that came in that inning. In game one, Beth Wade’s 2-out, 2-run single in the third turned out to be the game winner in a 7-3 victory. That was also the case in game two when Brandi Stuart’s record-tying 10th homer of the year was the difference in a 4-2 win.
Junior Brandi Stuart continues to chase All-American honors and was named ACC Player of the Week April 15 after hitting .714, scoring seven runs, knocking in 4 RBIs, two triples, a home run, slugging 1.714 and posting an on base percentage of .818 in four games. She tied a single-season school record with her tenth homer of the year and she is now third all-time in career home runs. Stuart led the Seminoles to a sweep of a Georgia Tech team that was 6-0 in ACC play coming in to the weekend. She went 4-for-5 with runners on base and hit 1.000 with runners in scoring position for the week. In the last 26 games, Stuart has launched six bombs and almost doubled her career HR total from the start of the season and she has hit four of FSU’s last seven HRs. She has also recorded an RBI in 10 of the last 13 games. She knocked in her 36th RBI of the year against Georgia Tech and now has 36 in each of her first three seasons. Stuart has amassed more RBIs in her first three seasons than any player in FSU’s 24-year history.
Junior All-American Brandi Stuart is on the verge of re-writing the FSU record books and she still has the rest of 2002 and her senior season. The 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 last season. 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 home runs (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.
The trend of Stuart improving her game from year to year looks to be holding up this season also. Through 44 games in 2001 and 2002, the junior has shown improvement in almost every category despite playing against 11 ranked teams this season compared to just one last year. Stuart has raised her batting average (from .394 to .396), raised her slugging percentage almost 100 percentage points (from .551 to .649), she has scored three more runs (33 compared to 36), hit one more double (seven compared to six), hit five more home runs (eight compared to three) and she has stolen almost twice as many bases (36 compared to 19). Her fielding percentage has improved from .931 to .959 and she is even getting on base more frequently (.471 compared to .462). She has assumed an even greater offensive role this season as she leads the club in ten different offensive categories compared to six last season through an equal number of games. At her current pace, Stuart will finish in the top two for runs scored and home runs, 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.
TURNING IT ON
Junior All-American candidate Brandi Stuart is raising the level of her game as the Seminoles come down the stretch in search of their third consecutive NCAA Tournament invitation. The second baseman is playing as well as ever and has raised her numbers from the first half of the season in almost every statistical category despite tougher competition. She has raised her average from .411 to .427, has scored six more runs, has three more triples, two more home runs, four more RBIs and is slugging 142 percentage points higher in the second half of the season than she was in the first.
1st Half 2nd Half At bats 73 75 Average .411 .427 Runs 21 27 Hits 30 32 Doubles 4 2 Triples 1 4 Home runs 4 6 RBIs 16 20 Total bases 48 60 Slugging .658 .800 Stolen bases 25 18 Strike outs 13 10
Senior Kimmy Carter must be taking her vitamins because she has shown surprising power at the plate so far this season. The co-captain came into the 2002 season with four career home runs and through 47 games this year, she has already set a single season high with three. She is now just one HR away from matching her total from the previous three seasons combined. She has already eclipsed her RBI total from her freshman and sophomore seasons with 36 this year she has established a new career high after knocking in 33 runs last season.
Senior Kimmy Carter and junior Brandi Stuart are two of the most important cogs that drive the Seminole softball machine and that fact is never more evident than when you look at the chart below and add up game-winning RBIs. Between the two, Carter and Stuart have combined for 19 game-winning RBIs, which is almost half of FSU’s 2002 victories. Carter leads the team with 12 while Stuart isn’t far behind with seven.
The 2002 season has brought with it a lot of challenges for Florida State softball but none more daunting than the schedule. The Garnet and Gold have faced nine teams who are ranked in this week’s USAToday/NFCA softball poll and two other teams (Mississippi State and South Carolina) who have been ranked. The Tribe has played #10 Washington and #18 Texas twice this season. The Seminoles also have a doubleheader remaining versus #11 FAU at the Seminole Softball Complex. Here’s a look at FSU vs. ranked opponents:
#9 CS Fullerton 8 #21 Florida State 1 #21 Florida State 1 #12 Oklahoma 0 #21 Florida State 3 #8 Washington 2 #8 Washington 6 #21 Florida State 4 #10 FAU 4 #21 Florida State 2 #11 Michigan 1 #21 Florida State 0 #21 Florida State 11 #18 DePaul 5 #21 Florida State 1 #14 Texas 0 #14 Texas 4 #21 Florida State 2 #20 Ohio State 2 #21 Florida State 1 (11) #25 Georgia 3 #21 Florida State 2
ACE OF THE BASES
When senior Kimmy Carter set a season high with five RBIs against DePaul by doubling and tripling with the bases loaded, she probably had no idea how big those hits were. Her double moved her onto the all-time doubles list at Florida State with 24 in her career and the triple gave her a total of 15 and she is now just one away from becoming a career leader in that category also. If Carter is able to get one more triple, she will become just the second player in the 24 year history of the program to appear as a career leader for both doubles and triples (Lisa Davidson is the other). When Carter gets on the at bats and games played lists, which she will before all is said and done, she will be the only Seminole ever to appear on the career leaders list for games played, at bats, doubles and triples. That would be some accomplishment!
Junior college transfer Shundra Colzie has been one of the biggest surprises of the second half of the season for Florida State. The outfielder hit .250 with no HR’s, two RBIs and committed one error over the first 24 games of the year. Albeit, that was good enough for the fourth highest batting average on the team but is nothing compared to what she has done over the last 26 games. Colzie has hit .365 (the second highest average on the team), scored 18 runs, has a double, two triples and four home runs and has knocked in 10 RBIs. She is slugging .635 now compared to .250 in the first half of the season. Colzie has also hit safely in 21 of her last 26 games and hasn’t made a single error.
MORE FROM FAMU
In two games and 12 innings versus Florida A&M April 6th, FSU hit .480 as a team, slugged .660, knocked in 20 RBIs, pounded out 24 hits, scored 24 runs and posted an on base percentage of .587…three of Florida State’s everyday starters came into the April 6th doubleheader against Florida A&M without a hit in the two previous meetings in the series. Brandi Stuart, Kimmy Carter and Shundra Colzie were a combined 0-for-13 coming into the twin bill. Boy did all of that change. Those three Seminoles combined to go 9-for-12 in the sweep and hit .750 as a group. Stuart and Carter each hit 1.000 in the two games while Colzie hit .500 by going 3-for-6…senior Leslie Malerich has enjoyed her three starts versus Florida A&M this season. On top of going 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA, two shutouts, 16 strike outs and just four walks, the All-American has broken two of the biggest All-Time records in FSU history against Florida A&M. In her March 28th start versus FAMU, Malerich broke FSU’s All-Time wins record with the 91st victory of her career. Then in game one of the April 6th doubleheader, Malerich picked up the 20th win of the season. That win marked the third time in a row that Malerich has won at least 20 games in a season. She is the first pitcher in FSU’s 24-year history to post three 20+-win seasons in an FSU career…Seminole freshman Tatiana George was on quite a roll versus the Rattlerettes. After going 3-for-4 with a run scored and a game-winning RBI in FSU’s second game of the year versus Florida A&M, George seemed to carry that momentum into game one of the April 6th doubleheader against FAMU. The Fontana, CA native grounded out in her first at bat but came back with the bases loaded in the third to hit a bases clearing double to give her four hits and four RBIs in her last six at bats against Florida A&M.
GET WELL SOON
Freshman Tatiana George was injured in the second game of the UAB doubleheader when she covered second on a pick-off attempt and ended up with six stitches above her right knee due to a feet first slide. The loss is a big one for FSU considering how well the freshman was playing as of late. She was in the midst of a seven game hitting streak and had hit safely in 14 of her last 18 games. She was 4-for-4 in the UAB doubleheader before the injury. During her seven game hit streak, she recorded 13 hits and eight RBIs. Included in those 13 hits were a double, a triple and a home run. She also had two games with three RBIs. George did pinch hit twice during the UNC doubleheader (going 1-for-2 and extending her hit streak to eight games) and should return to the line-up this week.
Freshman Tatiana George really seems to be finding her swing at the plate. The outfielder has raised her average 160 percentage points since reaching a season low .115 batting average after the 11th game of the year. Half of her 16 RBIs have come in the last seven games and both of her home runs came in the last 18 contests. At the Buzz Classic, George had the best weekend of her career. The Fontana, CA native hit .360, drove in three RBIs and hit her second career home run. She is now fourth on the team with eight multi-hit games. Her hot hitting continued in FSU’s March 28th game versus FAMU.
In Florida State’s game against the Rattlerettes March 28, the left fielder went 3-for-4, scored a run and drove in the game-winning run. George put FSU up early when her single to lead off the top of the first inning was the only hit but she came around to give FSU the lead. Shandra Colzie sacrificed George to second before a passed ball left her on third with just one out. Jessica van der Linden then reached on an error by the FAMU third baseman, which allowed the freshman to come home from third with the game’s first run. After a two-out double and a walk put the Seminoles in business again in the top of the second, George came through again with her second hit in two at bats but FSU was unable to extend its lead. After FAMU tied things up in the bottom of the third, neither team was able to take a lead through six when FSU came up for its last at bat in the seventh. With two outs and a runner on third, George took FAMU starter Tenyse Tasby to a full count before fouling off four pitches to stay alive. George then sent a shot up the middle scoring the game-winning run. It was just the second game-winning RBI of George’s career and the first since a double in the bottom of the seventh helped down Maryland 2-1.
DOUBLE THE FUN
There is little doubt that sophomore Jessica van der Linden is one of the top second-year players in the ACC and maybe in the nation. The reigning ACC Rookie of the Year is looking to become just the fourth player in Seminole softball history to lead the squad in doubles in back-to-back seasons. She finished with the second-most doubles in a season in team history last year when she totaled 14 and she leads the team this season with 10. She is now just one double away from tying Cindy Lawton for the most two-baggers in back-to-back seasons in the 24 years of FSU softball. She is just 12 doubles away from becoming the all-time leader at FSU with more than two seasons still to play. She already is tied for fifth all-time with 24 in just under two seasons.
Van der Linden has also taken advantage of her increased opportunities on the mound due to the graduation of 2001 ace Jen White-Stokes. The Cerritos, CA native has already surpassed her 2001 totals for appearances (22), games started (22), complete games (13), innings pitched (126.1) and strike outs (136). She is also just one win away from surpassing her total from 2001 when she went 13-3. Van der Linden should get the opportunity to add to all of those career highs with at least 16 games left.
NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP
Jessica van der Linden’s overall improvement from a stellar rookie campaign to her sophomore season is remarkable when you look at her numbers through 45 games in 2001 and 2002. Even though she has started almost the exact number of games both years (44 in 2001 compared to 45 this season) and has fewer at bats at this point in 2002 (127) than she did in 2001 (131), the super soph’s numbers are up in almost every area. She is hitting 34 percentage points higher this season (.339 compared to .305), she has 10 doubles this season compared to eight last year, she is slugging 45 percentage points higher (.472 compared to .427), she has scored seven more runs (23 versus 17 in 2001) and she has drawn seven more walks. She also has hit the first home run of her career this season. If you combine those numbers with her improved stats on the mound (see above note), it is easy to see why she is one of the most valuable Seminoles this season.
There is no doubt that teams love to play at home but how much have the friendly confines of the Seminole Softball Complex helped the 2002 squad? Florida State is 25-7 at home and 16-7 away and at neutral sites. The Tribe has gone 1-5 versus ranked teams at the Seminole Softball Complex yet they have posted a 3-2 mark versus ranked opponents away from home. Interesting, no?