March 29, 2006 - by
Seminole Softball Game Day: FSU Plays Host to FAMU & No. 17/18Auburn

March 29, 2006

Florida State hosts Florida A&M & #17/18 Auburn
Wed & Thurs, March 29&30 • 6 p.m.&1 p.m. • Tallahassee, Fla.
JoAnne Graf Field at Seminole Softball Complex (1,000)

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Florida State (24-15, 3-3 ACC)
Home: 21-9
Away: 2-1
Neutral: 1-5
ACC: 3-3

Florida A&M (21-19) 
Home: 11-6 
Away: 3-4 
Neutral; 7-9
MEAC: 8-0

#17/18 Auburn (22-8)
Home: 14-4
Away: 4-3
Neutral: 4-1
SEC: 5-4

Base Hits (What You Need To Know):
• Florida State continues a ten-game home stand this week with crosstown rival Florida A&M and No. 18/19 Auburn. The Seminoles have beaten the Lady Rattlers twice this year, 5-2 on Feb. 28, and 5-3 in the FSU Invitational.

• Through the first two weekends of ACC play, Florida State has the top hitting team (.356 average) and pitching staff (0.85 ERA). Catcher Melissa Wood (Lilburn, Ga.) has the top individual average (.600) and freshman Melissa May (San Diego, Calif.) is tied for the league-lead with a 0.00 ERA.

• Shortstop Yuruby Alicart (Maracay, Venezuela) picked up her second ACC Player of the Week Award on Monday after hitting .625 in five games last week.

Florida State Continues Homestand With FAMU & No. 17/18
Auburn In the midst of a ten-game home stand, the Florida State University softball teams steps away from Atlantic Coast Conference action for a pair of midweek non-conference games. First up for the Seminoles is crosstown rival Florida A&M on Wednesday (March 29) at 6 p.m. FSU will play its 11th game against a ranked opponent when No. 17/18 Auburn comes to town for a 1 p.m. contest on Thursday (March 30).

Seminoles Try To Go 3-0 Versus Lady Rattlers In 2006
The longest running collegiate series in state of Florida continues Tuesday when the Seminoles and Lady Rattlers meet for the 94th time. After a pair of wins this season, Florida State leads the series 87-6. Florida State holds a 45-2 advantage at home, having won 15-straight since FAMU prevailed 8-3 in 1999. In the first meeting, FSU jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead after three innings on its way to a 5-2 victory. The two teams met in the semifinals of the FSU Invitational Silver Bracket with Tiffany McDonald’s (Belfair, Wash.) complete game helping FSU to a 5-3 triumph.

Auburn Contest Is Rematch Of 2005 NCAA Tournament
The last time Florida State and Auburn met on the diamond it was win or go home during the 2005 NCAA Tournament regional in Auburn, Ala. The Seminoles prevailed 2-0 to advance to the regional final against Baylor. Florida State holds a 12-3-1 advantage over Auburn, having won the last three games and seven of the last eight. The Tigers are coached by former Seminole pitcher and assistant coach, Tina (Kyler) Deese. FSU is 5-1 against the Tigers in Tallahassee after winning both games on a 2003 doubleheader. Auburns lone win at Florida State was a 5-4 decision during the 2000 season.

Seminoles Even ACC Mark With Series Victory Over Boston College
Florida State improved its conference record to 3-3 over the weekend by taking two-of-three from ACC newbie Boston College. The loss was FSU’s first in its inaugural contest against a new league opponent. Four errors in Saturday’s first game gave the Eagles their first conference victory as they prevailed 7-5. Florida State split the twinbill as Melissa May (San Diego, Calif.) threw a six-hit shutout to lead FSU to the 8-0 run-rule victory in six innings. Sunday, the Seminoles took the rubber match, winning 7-5 as FSU pounded out double-digit hits for the fourth contest in a row.

Alicart Rojo Vivo Denominó ACC Jugador De La Semana
Translation: Florida State shortstop Yuruby Alicart may be the hottest player in the ACC right now. The junior transfer is adjusting to Division I pitching it is starting to pay dividends for the Seminoles in terms of stellar offensive production. Alicart won her second ACC Player of the Week honor in three weeks after hitting .625 during the five games last week as she extended her hitting streak to six games. Her other numbers included a gaudy 1.188 slugging percentage to go along with a .667 on-base percentage. Her performance last week improved her overall average to .357 and vaulted her into the ACC top ten for hitting.

Second POW Award Puts Alicart In Elite Company
Leslie Malerich, Jessica van der Linden, Jennifer White-Stokes and Brandi Stuart. Prior to this season, they were the only Seminoles to earned ACC POW honors more than once in a single year. That list grew by one when Yuruby Alicart picked up her second in three weeks, making her the leader among active players. Malerich collected an FSU-best ten awards, while van der Linden and White-Stokes picked up eight and Stuart added five more. Florida State leads the way with 76 total weekly awards from the league office.

Seminoles Are Taking On The Top Teams
Even though FSU has 15 losses this season, more than half of them have come against teams currently ranked in the Top 25. The Seminoles may have the toughest schedule in the conference with ten games against ranked opponents this year and that will increase by one more when FSU plays No. 17/18 Auburn on Thursday. Six of those games have been against the Top Ten, including four against defending champion Michigan while the rest of the league has played just eight games versus the Top Ten. This weekend’s opponent, Georgia Tech, is next with seven games, but after that, only Maryland has more than five games against ranked opponents. FSU and GT have combined for 17 games against ranked teams, compared to 19 by the rest of the ACC.

Bats Are Starting To Heat Up
Just as the conference play is starting to pick, the Florida State bats are getting going. The Seminoles pounded out 12 hits in all three games against Boston College and added a dozen more in the final game of the Florida International doubleheader. The four-game run this year ties the 2003 squad for the most consecutive games with double-digit hits since 2000. So far this year the Seminoles have nine games of 10 or more hits which already eclipses last year’s total of eight. Since 2000, the most double-digit hit games is 21 by the 2004 squad. The last five years the Seminoles have average 15 games of ten or more hits with five-straight seasons of ten or more until last year.

An obvious by-product of the increased hitting has been more run production. For just the second time this season, Florida State has scored five or more runs in its last three games and the 28 runs scored in the four contests is the second highest total over a four-game span. FSU is 17-1 this year when scoring five or more runs with the lone blemish being the 7-5 loss to Boston College over the weekend. The Seminoles are scoring 4.23 runs per game, nearly a run better than last year’s norm of 3.30.

McDonald Surpassing Last Year’s Numbers
Not even two-thirds of the way through the season, Florida State pitcher Tiffany McDonald has already surpassed most of her numbers from all of last season. In three appearances last week, the sophomore posted a 2-1 record and 18 strikeouts in 19.1 innings of work. For the year she has a 15-9 record and 162 strikeouts in 161 innings, which exceeds all of her stats from last season. The right-hander is the league leader in wins, appearances (28), complete games (18) while rating third in strikeouts. McDonald is on pace to make 47 appearances, which would tie her fourth on the single season charts and her projected 270 innings pitched would be the sixth most.

 FSU Is Top Statistical Team During Conference Play
During the young ACC season, the Seminoles are tops in the league with a .356 batting average and a 0.85 ERA. Melissa Wood is the top hitter during league games with a .600 average while pitcher Melissa May is tied for the lead with a 0.00 ERA. FSU has three of the top ten hitters during ACC games with Yuruby Alicart hitting .556 (2nd) and Veronica Wootson (Fontana, Calif.) coming in 10th at .389. Close behind May is Tiffany McDonald with her fifth-place 1.06 ERA. Alicart is tops in ACC play for hits (10) and RBIs (7), while Wood is the leader in doubles (3) and on-base percentage (.647) and Wootson leads the way with her two triples.

Defense Wins Championships?
Most teams need to play solid defense in order to win. That isn’t necessarily the case for the Seminoles this year. Florida State is 12-7 when it commits one error or less, but only 12-8 when committing more than one. This year, the Seminoles have committed 67 errors so far and are on pace to record a school-record 112 miscues. Even more bizarre is how FSU performance at the plate. The Seminoles are hitting 30 points higher – .297 vs. .267 – when they commit two or more errors with eight players hitting better than .300. Some of the best teams in school history weren’t necessarily the best fielding ones. The 1987 (97 errors), 2002 (94) and 2004 (78) squads all rank in the top 10 for most errors in a season and all went to the World Series. The 1996 squad that was in the NCAA Regional finals set the school record with 98 errors that year.

Davis On The Upswing
If Yuruby Alicart hadn’t put up the strong numbers she did, right fielder LaShaun Davis (Marietta, Ga.) may have taken home player of the week honors. During the last five games the junior hit .600 with a pair of runs scored. Her best game was a 3-for-3 performance in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader. Her efforts at the plate raised her season norm to .328, which is the second-highest average on the team, and is the highest its been since the first week of the season.

Pitching Staff Continues To Make Strides
After giving up just one earned run in 7.2 innings last week, freshman Kayla Collin’s (Niceville, Fla.) ERA dropped below 4.0 for the first time and marked the first time all season all three pitcher’s ERA were under that mark. Another sign of the staff’s improvement is reduction of home runs given up. The Seminoles have only given up a home run in two of the last 15 games. The number of free passes are also on the decline with staff only surrendered more than two walks in one game last week.

Jacob Climbing FSU Ladder, Among Active ACC Career Leaders
After seven hits and four runs scored last week senior Natasha Jacob (Coppell, Texas) is tied for seventh with Penny Siquerios at 219 base knocks and eighth with 126 runs. She needs just two more stolen bases to tie Dana Bailey for eighth in school history and she is seven back of Georgia Tech’s Lauren Schwartz and Heather Field from Virginia for ninth on the ACC charts. Currently the All-America candidate is the active conference leader in career games played at 229. Among the active ACC leaders, she is second in stolen bases, hits, at-bats (670) and triples (14), while ranking third for runs scored.

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