March 23, 2006 - by
Seminole Softball Game Day: FSU plays host to Florida International Thursday

March 23, 2006

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Game One (5 p.m.) Gametracker
Game Two (7 p.m. approx) Gametracker

Florida State hosts Florida International
Thursday, March 23 • 5 p.m. (DH) • Tallahassee, Fla.
JoAnne Graf Field at Seminole Softball Complex (1,000)

Florida State (20-14, 1-2 ACC)
Home: 17-9
Away: 2-1
Neutral: 1-4
ACC: 1-2

Florida International (15-18
Home: 7-12 
Away: 1-1 
Neutral 7-5 
Sun Belt: 0-0

Base Hits (What You Need To Know):
• Florida State leads the series 6-2 with its rival from Miami. All eight games between FSU and Florida International have taken place in Tallahassee. The Seminoles have won the last three games, including a pair of wins in 2004.

• The Seminoles picked up a pair of victories over ranked teams last week. First FSU beat No. 25 North Carolina, 2-1, to open the 15th season of ACC softball. Then at the Judi Garman Classic, the Seminoles took down #10 Arizona State, 1-0, in ten innings.

• Senior outfielder Natasha Jacob (Coppell, Texas) needs one more stolen base to tie former Seminole Leslie Barton for 10th in ACC history with 57 steals.

• Both games of Saturday’s 1 p.m. doubleheader between Florida State and Boston College will be televised live on Sun Sports. Tom Block (play-by-play) and Barry Milligan (color) will call the action.

• Of Florida State’s 14 loss, nine have come to currently ranked teams, including four to defending national champion Michigan. Four of the five losses to non-ranked teams have been by one or two runs.

Florida State Returns Home To Take On Panthers
With tournament season on hold until the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships in May, the Florida State University softball team is back at home for a Thursday (March 23) doubleheader before getting back in to conference action this weekend. The Seminoles will play host to instate foe Florida International in a 5 p.m. twinbill.

Seminoles Hold Advantage In Young Series With Florida International
Of all the series with in-state opponents, the one that has been played the fewest is with Florida International. The Panthers began their program in 1998 and the two teams have only met on the diamond eight times with Florida State holding a 6-2 advantage. All eight of the contests have been played in Tallahassee and the Seminoles have won the last three games, including a 5-1 and 11-0 sweep of a 2004 doubleheader. Prior to FSU’s three-game run, the Panthers had won two of the last three meetings.

McDonald Pitches FSU to 1-0 Win Over #10 Arizona State
Since the 2004 Women’s College World Series, the Seminoles did not have that marquee win to hang their hats on. During the opening day of the Judi Garman Classic, Florida State got that win as it beat No. 10 Arizona State 1-0 in ten innings. Riding the right-arm of starter Tiffany McDonald (Belfair, Wash.), the Seminoles got their first win over a top 10 school since beating No. 7 Washington at the WCWS. It was also FSU’s first upset of a Top 10 team since No. 10 FSU beat No. 7 Oklahoma at the 2004 NFCA Leadoff Classic.

Bats Have Trouble Heating Up In Southern California
Playing against some of the best competition in the country, the Seminoles could not get the offense jumpstarted last week at the Judi Garman Classic. Including the victory over Arizona State, the Seminoles managed just five runs in five games with three of those coming against No. 9 Michigan. Florida State started the tournament by taking on the host, Cal State Fullerton, and hung with the Titans until the later innings. Defense also plagued the Seminoles as they allowed three unearned runs. After beating ASU, FSU only managed three hits in a 1-0 loss to Notre Dame that started Friday afternoon and concluded Saturday morning. The game was a lot closer than the score indicated as the Seminoles lost their fourth game to the defending champion Wolverines, dropping a 11-3 decision.

What Could Have Been?
Less than perfect weather greeted the Seminoles at the Judi Garman Classic and may have cost them a win. In the fifth inning of Florida State’s game with Cal State Northridge, lightning forced the teams off the field and strong rain canceled the game. The Seminoles were in the midst of a comeback when the game was canceled, having scored two runs in the fourth to make it a 3-2, and sophomore Whitney Buckmon (Stone Mountain, Ga.) had just stolen a pair of bases to put the tying run on third with no outs. Getting FSU it’s two runs was the first home run of the year by California native Brittany Osmon (San Diego, Calif.). Freshman pitcher Kayla Collins (Niceville, Fla.) had come on in relief and only given up one hit in three innings.

Catcher Injured In Northridge Game, Out Four-to-Six Weeks
More important than the statistics that were lost from the Cal State Northridge game, Florida State lost an important player during the game. Seminole catcher BillieAnne Gay (Tallahassee, Fla.) sustained a hand injury against the Matadors when a CSUN player slid into home play. Gay is expected to be out for four to six weeks. Sophomore Melissa Wood (Lilburn, Ga.) will handled the majority of the catching duties with a backup yet to be determined. Gay had played in 21 games this season with 15 starts. The Lincoln High School product was hitting .375 over the last ten games and had scored the winning run in two of Florida State’s last three victories.

How About, You Know, A Little Something For the Effort?
Even though the Seminoles went 2-5 last week, the pitching staff did its best to give Florida State a chance to win. In the seven games, the staff posted a 2.02 ERA, which is nearly a run lower than its season average of 2.76, as nearly half the runs given up were unearned. In 52 innings of work, Florida State out-pitched its opponents as it struck out 44 batters and limited opponents to a .194 average. Unfortunately, the offense only scored 11 runs in seven games and hit just .231. Prior to the Michigan game, in which all 11 runs (2/24) were earned, the staff’s ERA had come down to 2.50 from 3.69 after Louisiana-Lafayette. Removing the three games with double-digit earned runs — Louisville (12), ULL (14), and Michigan (12) — the staff’s ERA drops to 1.73.

McDonald Continues To Be The Workhorse Of The Staff
It may sound like a broken record, but Tiffany McDonald has gone above and beyond the call of duty in only her second year at Florida State. The right-hander has nearly exceeded all of her numbers from 2005 with 13 wins, 141.2 innings pitched and 144 strikeouts, needing just one win, four strikeouts and 17 innings to meet last year’s standards. Ranked in the ACC in nearly every category, including the league’s best in innings, appearances, wins, starts and complete games, she has appeared in 74% of FSU’s games (25-of-34), has 75% of its strikeouts (144-of-195), 65% of wins (13-of-20) and 62% of innings pitched (141.2-of-228.0).

Climbing Jacob’s Ladder
With the dawn of the last half of her senior year, Natasha Jacob is starting to climb farther up the ACC and Florida State record books. The All-America candidate needs just one stolen base to break into the conference annals, tying her with former Seminole Leslie Barton with 57 steals. Barton has 66 for her career, but nine happened before the school was a member of the ACC. Jacob is also four hits from tying Barton in the FSU books with 216 hits and is two runs back of eighth-place Christy Larsen and her 125 runs.

Seminoles Winning The Close Ones
Both of Florida State’s wins last week came during one run contests as it beat No. 10 Arizona State, 1-0, and No. 25 North Carolina, 2-1. This season, the Seminoles are 7-3 in one-run games. Florida State has struggled in two runs games, including both games — 5-3 & 3-1 — of the doubleheader with North Carolina.

Florida State Exceeds Ranked Regular Season Wins From 2005
In the span of six days, the Seminoles exceeded their entire regular season win total over ranked opponents from 2005 as both of their wins last week came against Top 25 teams. First was a win over No. 25 North Carolina to start the ACC schedule, then the 10-inning marathon against the No. 10 Sun Devils. Last year FSU didn’t get its second ranked win until This Date, but did win a pair over No. 18 Auburn in the NCAA Regional. The Seminoles only have one currently ranked opponent left to play, the No. 18/19 Tigers but ACC foes NC State, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech are receiving votes, as is rival Florida.

Outfielders Producing Offensively
Over the last five games, three of Florida State’s top four hitters have all been outfielders. Tied for the number two spot with a .333 average was Natasha Jacob and Whitney Buckmon. Next up in the line-up was junior LaShaun Davis (Marietta, Ga.) at a .286 clip. Jacob and Buckmon stole all four of the bases for the Seminoles during that span – two each – and scored four of the six runs, three by Jacob, one by Buckmon. Adding centerfielder Carly Brieske (Safety Harbor, Fla.) into the mix gives you two of the five doubles – one by Brieske and Buckmon – while the duo had four of the Seminoles’ seven sacrifice hits with two a piece.

Seminoles Getting More Aggressive On The Bases T
he Seminoles have been more aggressive on the base paths this year, as is evident with its 41 stolen bases after only 51 during last season. Both Natasha Jacob and Veronica Wootson (Fontana, Calif.) have already reached double digits — marking the fourth time in Jacob’s career she’s swiped ten or more. Sophomore Whitney Buckmon is next on the squad with a perfect 8-for-8. The Seminoles currently rank third in the conference in stolen bases, trailing Georgia Tech (68) and Virginia Tech (58).

Good Bye And Good Riddance
After four meetings this year, Florida State would actually be happy to see defending national champion Michigan again this season. Of course the next contest between the two schools would have to be in the NCAA Tournament and that’s the only place FSU would want to play the Wolverines. The schools met for the fourth time this season at the Judi Garman Classic in the third tournament game between the two. Besides crosstown rival Florida A&M, the Seminoles have not played a non-conference opponent four times in the regular season since 1996 when it played South Carolina four times.

Doh! Seminoles Looking The Homer
After utilizing home runs in the early part of the season, the Seminoles have been in a bit of a long ball funk. Over the last 13 games, Florida State has only hit one home run – a two-run shot by Yuruby Alicart (Maracay, Venezuela) against St. John’s. In the previous 21 games, the Seminoles had 10 round trippers. Florida State is 8-1 when it hits a home run, but 12-13 when it goes homer less.

Ground Rule Double (News & Notes):
The 10 innings pitched by Tiffany McDonald against No. 10 Arizona State were the most since Casey Hunter threw all 14 innings of FSU’s 1-0 loss to Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament…Florida State is 6-6 this year after a loss, but has not had a losing streak longer than three games this year. The Seminoles have lost multiple games in a row four times, but all four have included ranked opponents…Right fielder LaShaun Davis picked up her first extra-base hit of the year, ripping a double against Michigan on Saturday…After this Saturday’s doubleheader with Boston College, Florida State will next appear on television April 15 when its twinbill with North Carolina State will be broadcast live by Sun Sports…The pitching staff has allowed 19 home runs this year, just four short of the record for round trippers given up. The 1997 squad surrendered 24 home runs that year…Florida State is the league leader with 11 triples this seasons and rates fourth with 57 extra-base hits.

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