June 18, 2002
The 2002 season of Seminole softball was arguably the greatest in the school’s 18 years of fastpitch competition. Other FSU squads have had more wins or posted better team statistics but only one ever went as deep into the College World Series as the 2002 team and that 1990 team didn’t face a schedule as daunting as the one played by the 2002 squad.
Florida State played 25 games against ranked teams this year and 24 games against teams that finished the in the final poll of the season. The Tribe recorded victories over No. 5 UCLA, No. 6 Nebraska, No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 11 DePaul, No. 14 Washington, No. 16 Texas, No. 18 Georgia Tech and No. 25 Florida Atlantic.
One of the highlights of 2002 was how Florida State advanced to its sixth World Series. After a tough loss to Georgia Tech in the second-round of the NCAA Tallahassee Regional, FSU had to fight its way through the losers bracket. The Garnet and Gold was prepared to start its run on Saturday until rain forced a delay in postseason play leaving the Seminoles with the daunting task of winning three straight games on Sunday if they wanted to keep their World Series dreams alive.
The Seminoles, for the second time in three years, did what seemed impossible and won three games in a single day in a high-pressure situation. In 2000, it was three straight wins to capture the school’s eighth ACC Championship. This time it was for a trip to the 2002 Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, OK.
THEY SAID IT
“I tip my cap to Florida State. They did a terrific job of competing throughout the whole game. And that’s really what it’s about once you get to this point because you can’t size people up on paper and try to figure out who is supposed to win. You have to go out there and get it done.”
UCLA head coach Sue Enquist
“(Monique Marier) made the catch of her life. She showed great athleticism so I tip my cap to her. I know a lot of fielders would play it safe and just go for the out on the second runner that was in scoring position.”
UCLA head coach Sue Enquist
“I thought Florida State did a hell of a job. I’ve been watching them all week and we knew we were going to be in for a dogfight.”
Arizona head coach Mike Candrea
“(Florida State) had a lot of heart and desire and fought until the very end. Coming in as an eight seed and playing UCLA in their first game, that was huge for them and they did a great job. They’re fighters and they’re a great team.”
Arizona All-American pitcher Jenny Finch
ODDS AND ENDS
No team at Florida State in the 2001-2002 academic year finished their season ranked higher or made it deeper into the postseason than the FSU softball team.
The Seminoles played 24 games versus teams that finished 2002 in the Top 25. Amongst their 11 wins were No. 5 UCLA, No. 6 Nebraska, No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 11 DePaul, No. 14 Washington, No. 16 Texas and No. 18 Georgia Tech.
The 2002 season marked the third time since FSU switched to fast-pitch softball that the Seminoles have finished ranked in the top 5. This year, Florida State is the only non-Pac 10 team to finish the year ranked in the top 5 in the nation.
When FSU downed UCLA in the first game of the WCWS, it marked just the 2nd time the Bruins lost an opening round game in 18 trips to the WCWS.
Senior Kimmy Carter ended her Florida State career playing in 272 games which is good for third all-time in FSU history. Carter averaged 68 games per year in her four years with the team.
Although she didn’t wind up No. 1 all-time for games played, Carter did end her career by establishing a new mark for consecutive games started in a career. The Palm Beach Gardens native started 247 consecutive games in her illustrious career in the Garnet and Gold playing in almost every game since she arrived on campus as a freshman in 1999.
When you play in as many games as Carter has in her career, you tend to pile up the at bats and the catcher did just that. In four years, Carter had 745 at bats and sits sixth all-time in FSU softball history.
In just three full seasons as a Seminole, Brandi Stuart is threatening every major career record in the FSU history books. The junior is already on the career leaders list at No. 5 for runs scored in her career with 151. After secoring the second most runs in program history with 63 in 2002, she will have all of 2003 to secure the 73 runs she needs to move into first. No one has ever scored more than 72 runs in a season at FSU.
Both Carter and Stuart finished the 2002 season by vaulting on to the career leaders list for hits. Carter had more than 60 hits for the second consecutive season and finished her career with 209 hits which is good enough for eighth all-time. Stuart, after becoming just the eighth Seminole to ever record more than 80 hits in a season, jumped all the way to No. 5 on the career leaders list. The junior just needs to reach her season average of 77 hits to move into a tie for the most hits ever in a career at FSU.
By the end of 2002, Carter, Stuart, Jessica van der Linden and Monique Marier all found their way on to the list for all-time doubles after the 2001 squad set a record with 93 last season. Carter is sixth on the list with 26 for her career. Marier, who launched 14 last year (the second most in team history), finished 2002 with 11 more and sits in seventh place with 25 for her two-year career. After just two seasons, van der Linden is already thied for career doubles with 28. She needs just ten more in two seasons to move into first. At her current pace, the sophomore should obliterate the record next season. Stuart is just one behind van der Linden with 27 and also has a realistic shot to move into first if she can duplicate her sophomore season when she hit 12.
Carter once again made it on to a career leaders this time the all time triples list. Carter is tied for fourth all time with 18 three-baggers in her career.
One of the most surprising aspects of the 2002 Seminole softball team was its penchant for the long ball. The 2002 squad buried the previous HR mark of 23 by launching 33 bombs this year and first-team All-American Brandi Stuart led the way. The junior tied the FSU single season record with 10 home runs and vaulted to No. 2 on the career leaders list with 17. Junior college transfer Monique Marier had another monster year with the long ball and needed just two seasons to amass 15 home runs and end up fifth all-time at Florida State.
Brandi Stuart became just the fifth Seminole to ever steal 50 or more bases in a season in 2002 and has now stolen 126 bases in three seasons. She is third on the all-time steals list and would need 60 steals as a senior to take over first.
Here they go again. Carter and Stuart combined to drive 98 runs in 2002 and each shot up the chart for RBIs in a career. Carter’s RBIs in the crucial final day of the 2002 NCAA Regional and then on a national stage at the 2002 College World Series made her FSU all-time RBI leader as she drove in 136 runs in her four year career. After driving in 45 runs in 2002, Stuart is now third all-time in the FSU record books with 117. She will need just 19 RBIs as a senior to take over the top spot from Carter which seems like a good bet since she has never hit less than 36 in a season.
As her power numbers and batting average grew in 2002, so did Stuart’s walks. The junior walked a school-record 49 times in 2002 and is now second all-time with 94 walks in her career. She is just 21 free passes away from moving into No. 1 all-time. They only time she hasn’t drawn at least 21 walks in her career was freshman season when she walked 17 times. Carter also finished her career on the all-time list for walks as she finished fourth with 88.
Stuart will enter her senior season in second place all-time with a career batting average of .363. She is just four percentage points shy of finishing her FSU career with the highest batting average in school history. She has raised her average every season at Florida State and flirted with .400 all through out the 2002 campaign and as the regular season came to close, Stuart owned the highest FSU batting average ever at .398.
MAKING A CASE
With every record she broke, it got harder and harder to argue that Leslie Malerich isn’t the greatest pitcher in FSU softball history. Every game out, it seemed that Malerich knocked down another longstanding FSU record. On April 6, she notched her 20th win and became the first FSU pitcher ever to win 20+ games in three seasons. She set perhaps the biggest record Thursday, March 28 in a 2-1 win over Florida A&M. The complete game three-hitter gave Malerich the 91st win of her career and made her the all-time winningest pitcher in the 24-year history of Florida State softball. It was the third all-time record she broke in 2002.
In her first start of the season versus the Rattlerettes, February 27, Malerich made the 136th appearance of her FSU career. That moved her past ex-teammate Jennifer White-Stokes and into first place. The Merrillville, IN native broke another all-time record in the process of recording her biggest win of the 2002 season. At the Kia Klassic at Cal State Fullerton, Malerich broke the all-time innings pitched record against No. 6 Oklahoma in a 1-0 shutout victory. She moved past Debbie DeJohn and into first place with her complete game win. She is the only pitcher in FSU history to pitch 800 or more innings in a career.
While Brandi Stuart and Kimmy Carter launched an offensive assault against the Florida State record book, Leslie Malerich did the same but from the mound. The senior capped off a stellar career by ending up on every all-time pitching list in Florida State history except for ERA. She already appeared on three of the six lists coming into the year and had another amazing season in her senior year. Here is a look at where she currently stands:
Malerich is 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 and she now has 179 in four years. That’s 44 more than any other hurler in program history.
Malerich moved into first on the list at the Kia Klassic in Fullerton, CA and she has now pitched 988.2 innings in her career. She is the only FSU pitcher to not only pitch 900 innings in a career but no other FSU hurler has ever even cracked 800 innings pitched.
She wasn’t even amongst the top five when the season began but she is now the winningest pitcher in FSU history. Malerich set the all-time wins record with her 2-1 win over FAMU March 28. She then went on a and picked up her historic 100th victory in a huge win over then-No. 10 Florida Atlantic. She was one of only 25 DI players to ever reach the century mark. Malerich is also the first Seminole ever to record 20 or more wins in three seasons or 30 or more wins twice in a career.
This is one of just two categories Malerich didn’t end her career No. 1 but she did wind up in the top three. Her 751 career K’s were the most ever by an FSU pitcher in more than 10 years.
After recording 12 more shutouts in 2002, the senior moved into fourth place all-time with 45 in her career.
Not only did Leslie Malerich move in to first place on three different all-time pitching lists and in to the top 5 on two others but she broke her own record for games started (42), tied her own record for wins (35) and single-handedly pitched FSU into the WCWS and then into the semi-final game.
ARM OF STEEL
When senior Leslie Malerich was overlooked by the All-Region selection comittee at the end of the 2002 season, people around Tallahassee knew what an injustice that was. The all-time wins leader in FSU softball history was an All-American the year before and pitched almost every big game this past season for FSU. If anybody doubted what she was capable of before NCAA post-season play began, there were no doubters afterwards.
Entering championship Sunday at the 2002 NCAA Division I Tallahassee Softball Regional, the Seminoles were prepared to do whatever it took to win the three games they needed to advance to their 6th College World Series, even if meant riding Malerich’s arm to do so. Malerich pitched in all three games for the Seminoles and picked up all three victories, this was the second time in Malerich’s career that she won three games in one day. The first time it happened was during the 2000 ACC Championship when Malerich earned victories against Maryland and Virginia twice to bring home the ACC Championship and Tournament MVP honors for the Seminoles. In the regional, Malerich pitched in 21 innings allowing only two earned runs, while striking out 12 batters. She threw a total of 320 pitches to 82 batters scattering only 24 hits. As she downed UTC and then helped the Seminoles complete a sweep of Georgia Tech.
As FSU made its first WCWS appearance in nine years, Malerich once again carried the squad. She pitched 28 of 34 innings for Florida State in Oklahoma City and recorded wins over then-No.1 and top-seed UCLA allowing just one run over nine innings. She allowed just one run again over seven innings in a 1-0 loss to eventual National Champion Cal. Malerich was strong again in picking up her second WCWS win and sending FSU into the semi-finals as she pitched FSU past No. 7 Nebraska.
With all four of Malerich’s pitching performance’s broadcast live on ESPN2, she showed the softball world what she was made of. She became just the second pitcher in FSU history to ever win two games in a year at the WCWS and only two other pitchers in the eight-team field won more games in Oklahoma City than did Malerich. The All-World Series Team member ended up throwing 791 pitches over eight days as she went 5-2 in NCAA Tournament play.
THREE COACHES THREE DECADES
Florida State head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf is only one of three coaches to lead a team to the Women’s College World Series in the each of the past three decades.
Coach Graf led the Seminoles to their first ever WCWS in 1987. Florida State appeared in four straight World Series in the 90’s and made their first appearance of the millennium this year. Arizona Head Coach Mike Candrea and UCLA Head Coach Sue Enquist are the only other coaches to match this same feat.
Win three games in one afternoon and you get to go to the Women’s College World Series. That was the daunting task facing the Seminole softball team when they arrived at the park on the final day of the 2002 NCAA Tallahassee Regional and they did just that. Florida State completed its improbable run to the school’s sixth World Series by downing No. 18 Georgia Tech 6-1 in the final game at the 2002 NCAA Regional tournament. The win was FSU’s second of the day over the Yellow Jackets.
After rain washed away Sturday’s action at the regional, the Tribe were left with the daunting task of beating a Chattanooga team that beat No. 1 seed Florida Atlantic twice to eliminate the Owls from the tournament. Then if they were able to get past UTC, the Seminoles would have to defeat Georgia Tech in back-to-back games to make it to Oklahoma City. Florida State and the Mocs played to a scoreless tie through seven and a half innings. In the bottom of the eighth, FSU loaded the bases with one down bringing up all-everything second baseman Brandi Stuart. The first-team All-American missed on a squeeze bunt attempt and Shandra Colzie was caught off of third as she was running on the play. Chattanooga threw to third but the ball was dropped allowing Colzie to come home with the game-winner.
The win advanced the Seminoles to their third consecutive NCAA Regional championship game and for the third year Florida State needed to take two games to reach the World Series. The Seminoles and Yellow Jackets split four games during the season with Tech downing the Seminoles in the ACC Tournament and NCAA Tournament. The Garnet and Gold entered the seventh inning with a 2-0 lead over the Jackets before GT rallied to tie the game and send the contest into extra innings. After coming within one strike of advancing to the WCWS in 2001, FSU was just two outs away from forcing a decisive game in 2002. The Tribe rallied though and Monique Marier’s RBI double in the ninth won FSU’s second extra-innings game of the day. After playing 17 innings in two games on championship Sunday in order to just force a final game, FSU had enough of the close game and blew the doors off the Ramblin’ Wreck in the championship. The Seminoles built a 3-0 lead through the first three frames and just as Tech looked as if they were back in the game after getting a run in the top of the fifth, FSU added three more in the bottom of the frame to advance to the program’s sixth College World Series.
Leslie Malerich, the Regional’s Most Outstanding Player, recorded all three wins for FSU as she threw 320 pitches and had an ERA of just 0.67.
If being in Oklahoma City for the College World Series wasn’t exciting enough, things got just a little sweeter for Brandi Stuart at the WCWS banquet. The junior was named an NFCA/Louisville first-team All-American and was the only second baseman on the first team. It was Stuart’s first-ever selection as a Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American and she became just the fourth Seminole softball player to ever make it on to the first team and just the second junior ever.
Team USA National Camp invitee Brandi Stuart had a spectacular season in her third campaign wearing the Garnet and Gold. She was amongst the leaders in the ACC in runs scored (58) and triples (7) and was 3rd in batting average at .413 in the regular season. Stuart stole a career high 50 bases in 55 attempts, which was good for 2nd overall in the ACC. She slugged a career best .698 with 50 singles, seven doubles, seven triples and 10 home runs. Her 10 home runs tied a team high for homers in a season and she has 17 for her career. She is the only player in FSU history to appear on the career leaders list in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs and steals. Stuart finished the regular season with a career batting average of .368, which is the highest career batting average in FSU softball history. With her outstanding play, Stuart became just the second FSU player to ever be invited to the USA National Team Camp.
BRANDI WAS BUZZING
In a doubleheader against Maine and then at the Buzz Classic, junior All-American Brandi Stuart was a force.
The second baseman from Cerritos, CA hit .414 for the week and slugged .862 while leading Florida State in nine major offensive categories as the Seminoles went 6-2. Stuart led the team in home runs (4), RBIs (9), batting average (.414) and slugging percentage (.862) to just name a few. She hit as many home runs (4) as she had in all 38 games leading up to the week. In the Seminoles first game of a doubleheader versus Maine, Stuart’s double in the third was part of a four-run explosion that buried the Black Bears. The Cerritos native was just warming up though and she exploded for a career weekend at the 2002 Buzz Classic hosted by Georgia Tech. In six games, Stuart hit .500, slugged 1.045, drove in 9 RBIs, hit 4 home runs and had a perfect fielding percentage of 1.000. She had the game-winning hit in the first versus Campbell when her RBI single gave FSU a 1-0 lead they would never relinquish. Went a perfect 3-for-3 in FSU’s next game versus UNCG. She won the game for FSU again against the Spartans when her two-run home run put FSU up 3-0. She went on to single in the third and the fifth while stealing two bases. Stuart homered again and scored two more runs in a 5-1 win over NCAA Tournament participant Princeton. As the Seminoles moved into single-elimination, championship bracket play against UCF, Stuart once again had a huge game. She homered for the third time in four games, drove in another run with a single in the first and stole her fourth base in four tries for the tournament. In a quarterfinal loss to Troy State, Stuart single-handedly kept FSU in the game. After the Trojans took a 3-0 lead, Stuart took a 3-2 pitch and cranked a line drive home run to deep center bringing Florida State within a run at 3-2.
STEAL OF THE CENTURY
Junior Brandi Stuart became just the third player in Florida State softball history to steal 100 bases in her career when she swiped her first base of the Kia Klassic versus Rutgers. The Cerritos, CA native was able to break the century mark in front of family and friends in Fullerton making the weekend even more special. The second baseman made Tribe fans forget about All-American Serita Brooks’ prowess on the base paths. Brooks owns three NCAA steals records from her two seasons at Florida State but Stuart has already surpassed her career mark. The second baseman has 126 career swipes, which is good enough for third all-time. She is 60 shy of becoming the most prolific base stealer in Seminole history. The record is a long shot but, as Florida State fans know by now, you can never underestimate what Brandi Stuart is capable of on the softball diamond.
When ACC honors were announced at the 2002 ACC Banquet, FSU once again illustrated its strangle-hold on the annual post-season conference awards. For the seventh time in 11 years, the Florida State softball team placed more players on the All-ACC team than any other school. The Seminoles, who won their ninth regular season title in 2002, placed four players on the 2002 squad. It was the eighth time in 11 years that FSU had placed at least four players on the All-ACC team. Senior Leslie Malerich and junior Brandi Stuart were each named to their third consecutive team while sophomore Jessica van der Linden was voted on for the second straight year. Van der Linden is the first Seminole to ever garner conference honors as a freshman and sophomore despite the fact the Florida State has had a league-leading 51 selections in 11 seasons. Senior Kimmy Carter made her first-ever appearance as Seminoles made up one-third of the 12-member team. The Tribe’s four selections marked the eighth time in 11 years that they had either led the conference or tied for the conference lead in All-Conference selections. Florida State has now placed an ACC record 51 players on All-ACC softball teams in the conference’s 11 years of sponsoring the sport and 39% of 131 All-ACC selections have been Seminoles.
Senior Kimmy Carter must be taking her vitamins because she demonstrated surprising power at the plate in 2002. The co-captain came into the season with four career home runs and in 2002 she set a single season high with three. She also set a personal best with 53 RBIs. She established a new single season record for RBIs in 2002 and eclipsed her previous season best RBI total by a whopping 20 runs batted in. She also set a new personal best with a .407 slugging percentage.
In game two of the Tallahassee Regional championship against Georgia Tech, Kimmy Carter blasted a two out, three-RBI double to left field to clinch the victory for the Seminoles. With those three runs batted in, Carter became the all-time RBI leader in Florida State history with 133. She wasn’t done yet though as she added to her career record with three more at the College World Series beating out Leslie Barton by five with 136 in her career.
MO RBIS EQUAL MO WINS
During the 2002 Tallahassee Regional, senior left fielder Monique Marier provided the Seminoles with two game-winning RBIs, first against Auburn and then again in the first championship game against Georgia Tech. Versus Auburn, Marier stepped up to the plate in the fourth with the Seminoles down 1-0 and runners on second and third.
She hit a ground ball in between short and third, driving in two runs, which so happened to be the game winners for FSU. Marier again displayed some clutch hitting in the top of the ninth against Georgia Tech with the game tied 2-2. With runners on first and second, she hit a deep shot to right field over the fielders head, dropping in for the game winning RBI sending the Tallahassee Regional finals to a decisive game. Marier kept the streak going with her game-winning, ninth-inning home run against No. 1 UCLA at the 2002 World Series.
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 eighth inning of the first meeting between the Seminoles and Tar Heels.
SCHEDULE OF STRENGTH
The 2002 Florida State Softball team played one of its toughest regular season schedules in recent memory. On top of playing 13 games versus teams ranked at the end of the regular season before the College World Series, Florida State played 71% of its 66 regular season games versus teams with winning records. Seminole regular season opponents posted a .607 winning percentage this year and FSU played three games against teams with 60 or more wins, two games versus teams with 50 or more wins and 19 games versus teams with 40 or more wins. FSU went 13-11 in those contests, which is a .541 winning percentage versus the toughest competition on their schedule. The Garnet and Gold played more games against teams with 40, 50 and 60 wins then they did against team’s with a sub .500 record. The Seminoles lost only four games to teams that weren’t ranked at one point in 2002 and lost to just one team with a sub-.500 record. The combined record of the teams that beat FSU this season is 702-318 (.688). If you remove the two losses to Texas Tech from the Troy Cox Classic, the teams that recorded the other 12 wins over Florida State have a record of 676-238 for a gaudy .740 winning percentage.
The 2002 season brought with it a lot of challenges for FSU softball but none more daunting than the schedule. The Garnet and Gold played 24 games versus teams in the final NFCA/USA Today poll and one other team (Chattanooga) who were ranked. The Tribe recorded wins over three top 10 teams, five top 15 teams and eight top 25 teams. The Seminoles played 15 top 25 opponents and 12 of the top 16. Overall, FSU won 11 games against top 25 opponents.
#4 Florida State 1 #16 Texas 0
#4 Florida State 1 #8 Oklahoma 0
#4 Florida State 11 #11 DePaul 5
#4 Florida State 3 #14 Washington 2
#4 Florida State 3 #25 FAU 2
#4 Florida State 7 #18 Georgia Tech 3
#4 Florida State 4 #18 Georgia Tech 2
#4 Florida State 3 #18 Georgia Tech 2
#4 Florida State 6 #18 Georgia Tech 1
#4 Florida State 2 #5 UCLA 1 (9)
#4 Florida State 4 #6 Nebraska 3
Even though Florida State went 1-1 during the regular season against teams who made it to the WCWS, the Seminoles had a combined record of 5-5 against teams who made it through to the Sweet Sixteen of the 2002 NCAA Regionals. The Seminoles went 4-2 against Georgia Tech, outscoring the Yellow Jackets 20 to 17 in six games. Florida State downed DePaul 11-5 at the Kia Klassic. The 11-run output by the Seminoles was the second most scored by Florida State last season. The Seminoles lost 2-1 to Ohio State in 11 innings at the Buzz Classic and in other games against regional finalists, Florida State fell to both South Carolina and Cal. State Fullerton, 4-0 and 8-1, respectively.
Junior college transfer Shundra Colzie was one of the biggest surprises of the second half of the season for Florida State. The outfielder hit .250 with no HR’s and two RBIs 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 did over the next 28 games. Colzie hit .366 (the third highest average on the team), scored 18 runs, had a double, three triples and three home runs and knocked in eight RBIs. She slugged .592 compared to .250 in the first half of the season. Colzie also hit safely in her last seven games of the streak and in 21 of her last 26 games. She also led the ACC with a .545 conference batting average.
There is no doubt that the Seminoles gained a lot of confidence when they traveled to Fullerton for the prestigious Kia Klassic tournament. Few people outside of Tallahassee were expecting the Tribe to make much of a splash on the west coast. The tournament featured nine ranked teams, including the last two national champions, and FSU was in one of two four-team pools that featured three ranked opponents. It is safe to say the Garnet and Gold opened some eyes and proved that east coast teams can also play ball by advancing to the final four. Florida State, which was winless in six games versus ranked teams in Tallahassee, downed three top 15 teams in three days. The Seminoles beat then No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 14 DePaul and got a measure of revenge when they beat No. 13 Washington to go to the tournament semifinals. To put in perspective just how well FSU did, they advanced further into championship play than No. 2 Arizona, No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 10 Fresno State, No. 13 Washington, No. 14 DePaul and No. 18 Louisiana-Lafayette. The Seminoles only two losses came against the Kia champion (Cal State Fullerton) and runner-up (Texas).
The benefit of that trip out west was immeasurable when you look at what the Seminoles did during the regular season after the Kia. Florida State left Fullerton with a respectable 25-10 record and .714 winning percentage but since then they went 23-4 and posted an amazing .852 winning percentage. Included in that amazing stretch was a 10 game win streak that wasn’t broken until the final game of 2002 against then-10th-ranked FAU. Florida State hit .323 as a team over that stretch, belted 21 home runs, 13 triples, knocked in 133 RBIs and slugged an incredible .481. Seven everyday starters hit .290 or above during the run with five hitting .300 or above and Brandi Stuart hitting .446. FSU pitchers did their part also in posting a 1.41 ERA and a strikeout to walk ratio of almost 3 to 1. FSU outscored its opponents 148-57 in the final 27 contests of the regular season.
NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP
Jessica van der Linden’s overall improvement from a stellar rookie campaign to her sophomore season was remarkable when you look at her numbers through 45 games in 2001 and 2002. Even though she started almost the exact number of games both years (44 in 2001 compared to 45 in 2002) and had fewer at bats at the same point in 2002 (127) than she did in 2001 (131), the super soph’s numbers are up in almost every area. She hit 34 percentage points higher (.339 compared to .305), she had 10 doubles compared to eight last year, she slugged 45 percentage points higher (.472 compared to .427), she scored seven more runs (23 versus 17 in 2001) and she drew seven more walks.
She also hit the first home run of her career in 2002. If you combine those numbers with her improved stats on the mound, it is easy to see why she was one of the most valuable Seminoles in 2002.
WHAT MORE COULD YOU ASK
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. 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, 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.
After taking a few weeks to adjust to the college game, freshman Tatiana George really seemed to find her swing at the plate. The outfielder raised her average 160 percentage points since reaching a season low .115 batting average after the 11th game of the year. Half of her first 16 RBIs came 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 also moved into 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, 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 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 at that point of George’s career and the first since a double in the bottom of the seventh helped down Maryland 2-1.