March 23, 2005
:: Leading Off ::
After going 1-3 last weekend at the KIA Klassic, the 25th-ranked Florida State softball team faces fellow Top 25 and ACC foe, Georgia Tech, on Easter weekend in a three-game series taking place in Atlanta. The Seminoles, seated in second place in the ACC, are 20-12 overall and 3-2 in league action. Meanwhile, the 23nd-ranked Yellow Jackets are in first place in the ACC and enter the series 28-7 on the season and 2-1 in ACC play. FSU and Georgia Tech will compete in a doubleheader Saturday, March 26, beginning at noon, and return to the field on Easter Sunday at 12:00 p.m. With 1,296 career wins to date, Florida State Head Coach Dr. JoAnne Graf needs four more victories for milestone No. 1,300. Leading the way for the Seminoles on the field, is junior outfielder Natasha Jacob, who guides the squad with a team-best .361 batting average and she is ranked third in the ACC. Furthermore, Jacob has a team-high 35 hits and sophomore second baseman Veronica Wootson has a team-best 15 runs. In the circle, freshman pitcher Tiffany McDonald is 10-1 on the season and has a team-low 1.14 ERA. Fellow pitcher and NFCA All-American Casey Hunter paces the staff with 181 strikeouts. All games this weekend will be broadcasted live on the Internet at www.seminoles.com with veteran play-by-play announcer “Campo” calling the action. Furthermore, fans can watch live stats worldwide via the softball schedule page.
:: Georgia Tech::
No. 23 Georgia Tech is 28-7 overall and 2-1 in league play. The Jackets enter the weekend riding a two-game win streak with victories over Northern Illinois and UCF. Christine Sheridan guides her team and the ACC offensively with a .433 batting average and 45 hits. Amy Hosier is the RBI leader with 23 credited on the season. The Yellow Jackets’ ace is Jessica Sallinger and she has a league-best 14-5 record, holding opponents to a .125 mark and averaging 10.11 strikeouts per game. Common opponents between the two teams include: Georgia Southern, Eastern Kentucky, Southern Illinois, Southern Carolina, Florida A&M, and North Carolina. Both squads fell to the Salukis and went 2-1 against the Tar Heels. However, FSU defeated South Carolina (GT loss, 2-0 in 10 innings) and split with Georgia Southern and Florida A&M, respectively.
Florida State leads the all-time series 35-6 and is 11-1 when playing on the road at Georgia Tech. The Seminoles have won the last eight meetings between the schools and has not lost since the 2002 season when the two teams battled six times that year. The Tribe won four of those contests.
:: Coach Graf Field Dedication: April 2 ::
Fans are encouraged to mark down April 2 at 12:45 p.m. to witness a piece of Seminole Athletic history as Dr. JoAnne Graf will be honored as the softball field is named in her honor. Former coaches, players, FSU President T.K. Wetherell, Athletic Director Dave Hart, and many more will be attendance to honor the 27-year coach who planted the seeds and paved the way for the FSU softball program. Coach Graf will available after the doubleheader versus Virginia Tech to take photos with fans and for autographs. The first 500 people in attendance will receive a collectable JoAnne Graf Field commemorative pennant and poster. If you have any questions or would like to send a special email to Coach Graf
congratulating or thanking her for all the years she has dedicated to the program, please email at email@example.com.
:: Graf Nears All-Time Win No. 1,300 ::
She’s all ready the all-time winningest coach by victories (both slow and fastpitch combined), and her nearest competitor is almost 150 victories behind. Yet, every milestone still counts, as Dr. JoAnne Graf is just four wins shy of 1,300 victories. If the Seminoles sweep the series at Georgia Tech, it is likely that Coach Graf will celebrate the mark next week with a doubleheader against Jacksonville on Wednesday or a solo outing versus Florida A&M Thursday. All three games
are at the Seminole Softball Complex.
:: Gosh, Tash!::
Perhaps the most level-headed player of the team, Natasha Jacob is the first to admit that accolades mean nothing to the junior left fielder from Coppell, Texas. However, everyone else begs to differ. Jacob has had nothing short of a spectacular season as she leads the Seminoles in eight offensive categories! Furthermore, she is ranked at the top of the ACC in six statistical offensive groups. That, along with her 1.000 fielding percentage, proves on paper that the junior sensation is among the best in the country, yet time after time she is overlooked for various awards given away at tournaments and by the conference. Regardless, here in the ACC and at Florida State we have taken notice of her efforts and it’s important to know that the numbers don’t lie. Jacob is batting a team-best and ACC third-highest .361. In fact, up until the KIA Klassic, she was well above the .400 mark. Also, when facing Top 25 teams, Jacob hits .512 and slugs a healthy .537. She has a team-high 35 hits on the season and her three triples ties her with Virginia’s Elea Crockett as the leaders in the ACC. Finally, she paces the squad with nine stolen bases and gets on base a team-best 42 percent of the time. Whew! Slow down Tex!
:: `Catch’ing On!::
The Florida State coaching staff splits time behind the plate with two catchers who are both deserving of the starting position in their own ways. First, junior BillieAnne Gay catches for freshman pitcher Tiffany McDonald and Gay has 64 putouts and 35 assists on the season. Furthermore, she’s flagged down 9-of-19 runners and picked-off one, respectively. Offensively, Gay is the person you can always trust to put down as bunt, as she and shortstop Tatiana George guide the team with eight sacrifice bunts. Also sharing duties at catcher is freshman homerun king (queen), Melissa “Moe” Wood. Wood has four homers on the year and needs four more to tie the freshman single season home run record. Ironically, the record was set last year by sophomore Veronica Wootson who broke the former record with eight on the year. Wood also has the team’s only grand slam of the season. Defensively, she’s good and has 171 putouts while catching for Casey Hunter who has retired 181 batters. She’s caught 14-of-22 runners stealing and picked-off two of them. Catching is a strong point for Florida State, so whether it’s Gay or Wood, just know the Seminoles are mighty comfortable with their support behind the plate!
:: Record Watch::
Casey Hunter is third in the ACC with an all-time ERA of 0.86. She needs to finish at 0.78 or less to take second place.
:: All-American Freshmen::
Florida State scholarship freshmen Whitney Buckmon, Tiffany McDonald, Brittany Osmon and Melissa Wood have logged a considerably amount of time starting for the Seminoles this year, and one would have to look way back in the FSU softball history book to find out the last time four rookies earned starts. Buckmon and Osmon have appeared in all 32 games, Wood made starts in 28 contests, and McDonald has appeared in 11 games, respectively. In fact, starting as freshmen has been a pretty good omen for many Florida State players the past few years. Jessica van der Linden, Leslie Malerich, Elisa Vasquez, and Veronica Wootson all started on opening day as rookies. Every Seminole to earn NFCA All-American honors since 2000 has started from day one of her freshman year. So, if history repeats itself, expect the 2005 Florida State Softball Class to boast of some players who might be remembered forever in the Seminole softball annals.
:: Terrific Tiffany::
While NFCA All-American Casey Hunter (10-10) is the No. 1 pitcher for the Seminoles, we’d like to think she’s quite proud of her successor, freshman Tiffany McDonald, because of the freshmen’s early fortune in the circle. The Belfair, Wash., native has recorded an outstanding 10-1 record in 15 appearances! In four of her victories, McDonald tallied a one-hit performance and she’s logged three shutouts. For her efforts, McDonald made the all-tournament team at the Sunshine State Tournament early in the season. This week McDonald is fourth in the ACC with a 1.14 ERA and she is holding opponents to a .183 batting average when facing her.
:: Poor Tot ::
If you happen to have noticed senior shortstop Tatiana George wearing a black helmet with a grill on the front when batting, just know it’s not a fashion statement that she’s decided to pick up as of late. Instead, the Fontana, Calif., is nursing a broken nose stemming from an incident at North Carolina. This week she underwent surgery to repair the nose and should be back on the field in no time at all.
The Seminoles had error-free games seven times this season and their fielding is ranked second-to-last in the league. FSU went on a run with three-straight perfect games against Radford, Saint Joseph’s and Eastern Kentucky two weeks ago, before recording three against Southern Illinois. At the Kia Klassic, five miscues were logged and the team had an error-free contest against Long Beach, which, by the way, resulted in a victory versus the 49ers.
:: Favorite Inning? ::
So, what is the Seminoles favorite inning to score runs? It’s the third, where the team has tallied 22 runs, way past the next best inning which is the fifth with 15 logged. For opponents, FSU allows the most runs (17) in the fourth and the least, 3, in the seventh.
:: Balanced Line-up::
The Seminoles often change their batting order, but there is a pattern that has started to take effect. The Tribe is 14-7 when Natasha Jacob leads off and 12-4 Whitney Buckmon follows her. With Tatiana George at No. 3, FSU is 10-4 and 10-4 with Lesley Palmer batting cleanup. As far as positions go, the lineup is balanced with the exception of the catcher spot. When junior BillieAnne Gay begins behind the plate, the Seminoles are 10-3 and 5-2 with Hoffer at shortstop.
:: Long Ball As of Latel::
Through the first 16 games of the season, Florida State went yard just one time. However, since then, the team has launched 10 balls over the fence in 16 games. LaShaun Davis and Tatiana George have a pair, while Melissa “Moe” Wood paces the team with four, respectively.
:: FSU Against Ranked Teams::
FSU faced four ranked teams this year and went 1-3 against those squads with the lone victory registered against then-No. 25 Fresno State (2-0).
:: Seeing The Ball::
The Seminoles’ lineup has done a somewhat poor job this season in terms of pitch selection as evidenced by the only 72 walks drawn in 32 games and a .328 on base percentage. The Seminoles are averaging 2.25 walks per game this season, which averages out to 135 walks over a 60-game regular season. Florida State drew 252 walks in 74 outings (3.40 per game) during the 2004 campaign.
:: National Rankings::
After starting out the preseason ranked No. 10 in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25, the Seminoles dropped to No. 18 then settled in at No. 21, fell to No. 22 and now hold on at the No. 25 spot. The new NFCA/USA Today rankings will not be released until late Wednesday, however, the USA Softball/ESPN.com rankings posted FSU at No. 25 in their latest poll.