May 17, 2007
Florida State Softball
Florida State at NCAA Tournament
Friday-Sunday, May 18-20 Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Alabama Softball Complex (1,595)
First Pitch (What You Need To Know):
For the 20th time in school history and the eighth year in a row, the Florida State softball team is in the NCAA Tournament. The Seminoles travel to an SEC school for the third year in a row as they play in the Tuscaloosa Regional. FSU opens the tournament on Friday (May 18) against Cal at 3:30 p.m. (CDT).
This will be the first meeting between Florida State and California since the 2004 World Series where the Golden Bears prevailed 4-2. FSU beat Alabama 4-1 in the last meeting, which came in 1998, and lost to Tennessee Tech 9-8 at this year’s NFCA Leadoff Classic.
Florida State is 44-42 during the NCAA Tournament, including a 38-26 record in regionals. The Seminoles have won at least two games in their last three regionals, including last year when they won the Athens Regional.
FSU head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf comes into the NCAA Tournament needing just one win to be the first coach in softball history to record 1,400 victories.
Florida State Opens NCAA Tournament Versus Cal At Alabama
Continuing the postseason, the Florida State softball team earned its 20th NCAA Tournament appearance with an appointment to the Tuscaloosa Regional. The Seminoles (44-23) start their eighth regional in a row when they take on California (33-30) on Friday at 3:30 p.m. (CDT). The other two schools in the regional are the host Crimson Tide and Tennessee Tech. Florida State is coming off a semifinal appearance in the ACC Tournament where it was beaten by Georgia Tech.
Seminoles Continue NCAA Tradition
Few schools in the country can match the postseason success that Florida State has had. The Seminoles’ 20th NCAA appearance ranks sixth all-time and their 44 wins are ninth. During its 19 previous regional trips Florida State has a 38-26 record as part of its overall mark of 44-42. Over the last three seasons the Seminoles have won at least two games during regional play and have a record of 9-4. Last season the Seminoles went 3-1 on their way to the Athens Regional title.
Series With Bears Has Been One Sided Affair
Friday’s meeting between California and Florida State will be the 12th meeting between the two schools, but so far the series has been lopsided in the Golden Bear’s favor. Cal has a 10-1 lead on the Seminoles, including the 4-2 victory over Florida State during the 2004 Women’s College World Series. The Seminoles lone victory over the Bears came during the 2001 Tallahassee Regional when Florida State won 2-1 to force another game for the right to go to the WCWS. Cal won the deciding game 3-2 in ten innings. The Golden Bears have won five of the six games conducted during the NCAA Tournament.
This Isn’t Your Mother’s Cal Team
A 33-30 record is hardly the norm for a team that is a perennial World Series participant that advanced to last year’s NCAA Super Regional. The loss of three-time All-American pitcher Kristina Thorson left a void in the Golden Bears’ pitching staff that has been the major cause of fewest wins in Diane Ninemare’s 20 seasons. The staff has an ERA of 4.16, but hasn’t gotten much help from its offense as only two players are hitting over .300. Cal won the 2002 WCWS – defeating Florida State 1-0 along the way – and were runners-up the two seasons after.
Tuscaloosa Regional One Of The Tougher Sites
If the Seminoles are going to make it back to the Super Regional for the second year in a row they’ve got a tough road ahead. Florida State is in one of the two regionals (Columbia, S.C.) where all four schools were ranked in top 45 of the latest NCAA RPI: Alabama (5), Florida State (28), California (33) and Tennessee Tech (41). Alabama, currently number five in the country, was ranked number one in both of the national polls just two weeks ago. Each team in the regional advanced to last year’s tournament, the Seminoles, Crimson Tide and Golden Bears made it to the Super Regional and Alabama went to its second World Series in a row. The teams have been to a combined 21 WCWS.
Graf Is One Win Away From 1,400
The first victory for the Seminoles would will be a milestone as head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf needs just one more victory to become the first coach in softball history to record 1,400 victories (fastpitch & slowpitch). This will the first milestone victory Graf has picked up during the NCAA Tournament. Should win number 1,400 come against Alabama it would be the second time she has reached a milestone against an SEC school as her 1,100 victory came at Florida on April 18, 2001. Last year she became the second coach in NCAA history to record 1,200 wins with the 8-1 decision at Jacksonville.
Dugout Bosses Make History
In Alabama History will be made on Friday when Florida State and California square off to start the Tuscaloosa Regional. Between Seminole dugout boss Dr. JoAnne Graf (1,399) and the Golden Bears’ Diane Ninemare (885) there will be 2,287 coaching victories on the field, the most ever for two team meeting during the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In addition, the two coaches have taken their team to 15 Women’s College World Series and have won a combined 110 NCAA Tournament games.
Seminoles Advance To Semifinals Of ACC Tournament
Having home field advantage certainly helped Florida State but it did not get FSU to its ultimate goal of winning the tournament title. The Seminoles fell short of reaching championship game for just the fourth time in the 16-year history of the event as they were eliminated on Saturday, 7-3, by No. 17 Georgia Tech. Florida State got off to a roaring start by winning its open game 8-0 in five innings over North Carolina. Pitcher Tiffany McDonald (Belfair, Wash.) had one of her best outings of the year as she gave up just one hit and retired the last 13 batters she faced. Despite getting three more hits off ACC Pitcher of the Year Angela Tincher than it did in two regular season games, the Seminoles fell, 4-0, to eventual champion Virginia Tech on Friday. Later that night Florida State got the offense going again and staved off elimination by beating Maryland, 7-4, thanks to seven unanswered run after spotting the Terrapins three runs in the first. The Seminoles couldn’t force the if necessary against Georgia Tech as a three-run home run in the first deflated FSU’s sails and propelled the Yellow Jackets to the 7-3 triumph.
Three Seminoles Represent FSU On ACC All-Tournament Team
Advancing to the semifinals garnered enough attention for the Seminoles that they placed three players on the ACC All-Tournament team, which is the same total as championship game participants Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. Two-Time American Veronica Wootson may have had the best tournament of any hitter as she led all players with four runs scored and two stolen bases. In addition, she was second with five hits, fourth with eight total bases and fifth with a .417 average. First-Team All-ACC selection Yuruby Alicart may not have had as many hits, but she made the count as she led the tournament with four RBIs off a pair of doubles. Catcher Robin Ahrberg was the second leading hitter in the tournament with her .444 average to go along with two RBIs.
Wootson And Davis Only Holdovers From Last Cal Game
Only two Seminoles remain from the 2004 team that played against Cal during the WCWS. Veronica Wootson started at second base, going 0-3 with a strikeout, but she did record three assists. LaShaun Davis (Marietta, Ga.) was the starting right fielder that day, but also went hitless (0-for-2). Both starting right fielders were freshman in that game as Cal’s Alex Sutton is the only player on the Golden Bears roster that remains from 2004.
Florida State Getting Plenty Of Cowbell, Home Runs
A pair of home runs by second baseman Veronica Wootson and Carly Wynn (Sharpsburg, Ga.) upped Florida State’s school record breaking total to 48 for the year. The previous mark was 44 by the 2004 team that went to the WCWS. Over the last two seasons, the Seminoles have hit 82 home runs – the best two year stretch in school history – including 26 from shortstop Yuruby Alicart.
Seminoles Hoping Ahrberg And Gilmore Continue ACC Trend
Florida State has gotten great production from the top half of its line-up, but as of late the bottom has not been pulling its weight, that is until the ACC Tournament. Hitting out of the sixth-hole, Robin Ahrberg was second during the tournament with a .444 (4-of-9) average. She came into the tournament on an 0-for-12 stint and only had one hit in her last 15 at-bats since going 3-for-3 in the opener at North Carolina. Outfielder Jessica Gilmore (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.) could have garnered some All-Tournament recognition as she hit .333 (4-of-12) with three runs scored and double. Her average is up to .266, which is the highest its been in two weeks. During the 2005 Regional at Georgia Gilmore went 3-for-8, including a 2-for-4 day against Tennessee Tech.
Home runs is not the only area where Florida State is showing vast improvement from 2006 and ranking amongst the school’s all-time top five. The 87 doubles are just six back of the school record set in 2001 and the 285 RBIs sits third. This year’s 328 runs scored is third, as is the 195 walks. FSU has shown addition through subtraction with 50 less strikeouts and 30 fewer errors. The Seminoles have put up some impressive offense numbers despite more than 200 fewer at-bats than a year ago.
McDonald Leading Talented Pitching Staff
There’s no question that Second-Team All-ACC selection Tiffany McDonald is the ace of the staff, but this year’s she’s gotten plenty of help and that has made a tremendous difference. Going into last year’s tournament the right-hander accounted for 68 percent of FSU’s wins (28-of-41), 75 percent of strikeouts (293-of-390) and 66 percent of innings (300.2-of-455.1). The immergence of Melissa May (San Diego, Calif.) and Terese Gober (McDonough, Ga.) has taken some of the pressure of McDonald and improved the staff as a whole. McDonald is only 38 percent of FSU’s wins (17) 49% for innings pitched (203.1) and 55 percent of strikeouts (231). As a result, the staff ERA is nearly a full run lower and FSU has as many wins going into the tournament as it did all of last year.
News and Notes
Cal third baseman Katie Vickers has several ties to Florida State. She played on the same Mt. Carmel High School as the Seminoles Brittany Osmon and was a member of the 2005 Georgia Bulldogs with Jessica Gilmore. Bear’s outfielder Gina Leomiti was a travel teammate of Osmon’s … This will be the first NCAA Tournament appearance for catcher Brittany Krbec (Orlando, Fla.). The senior missed the postseason all three years of her tenure at Troy … Pitcher Melissa May returned from a two-month absence with mono to throw a two-hit shutout to beat #8 Georgia 2-0 and get the Seminoles into the 2006 Super Regional … This will be Florida State’s second trip to the state of Alabama in three weeks. FSU is 2-1 this year in the Heart of Dixie with the top hitter being Carly Wynn, who has a .500 average (.6-of-12) with five runs scored in Alabama … Florida State has a 5-5 record at regionals held at SEC schools, including last year’s 3-1 mark at Georgia. … The Seminoles are 2-2 in regionals played in the state of Alabama after going 2-2 at the 2005 Auburn Regional … Against the individual conferences, Florida State is 6-3 versus the SEC – 4-1 against an SEC school at its home field – 5-17 versus the Pac-10, including a pair of losses to Arizona State in last year’s Super Regional – and has not played an Ohio Valley school … FSU comes into Friday’s game on five days rest, the Seminoles are 2-1 this year when playing on five days rest with the lone loss being the 4-3 loss at North Carolina.