Aug. 1, 2002
Saskatoon, SASKATCHEWAN –
Florida State softball’s Jessica van der Linden is dominating the 16-team field at the 2002 International Softball Federation (ISF) Women’s World Championships being held in Saskatchewan, Canada. The junior lefthander leads the tournament with a perfect 4-0 record, 29 strikeouts and is seventh overall with a 0.79 ERA. Van der Linden has led Puerto Rico to a 4-2 record and her national team is currently sitting in third-place in Pool B. The top four-teams in each pool advance to the playoffs.
The Seminoles’ top-returning starter is leading the all-star field which includes some of the most-dominant pitchers in the world including two-time gold medal winner Lisa Fernandez of the United States. Florida State’s van der Linden has twice as many wins as any pitcher in the tournament, has pitched more innings than any other pitcher and has surrendered just three runs in 26.2 innings of work.
Van der Linden opened the tournament pitching Puerto Rico past South Africa 4-0. The junior struck out 10 batters and gave up just three hits in the shutout. She followed that performance by recording her second shutout in three days as she blanked Venezuela 2-0. In the win, van der Linden recorded nine more K’s in seven innings in the circle.
After allowing just two runs in a 8-2 victory over the Dominican Republic, van der Linden came back and recorded her tournament-leading fourth win. She pitched Puerto Rico past the Netherlands as she allowed just one run and struck out four batters in the 4-1 victory. Van der Linden also helped her own cause by recording two hits and an RBI at the plate. She has been the pitcher of record in all four of her country’s victories.
Puerto Rico faces Japan today at 1:30 p.m. but the outcome will have no barring on the team’s advancement as the tournament moves into the playoff phase Friday, August 2. Puerto Rico has claimed three silver medals at the Pan Am games and their best showing at the ISF World Championships came in 1986 when the country finished fifth overall. The Puerto Rican National Team also finished eighth at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.
Former Seminole star Leslie Malerich is also having a great tournament pitching for the Italian National Team. The Seminoles’ all-time wins leader is tenth in the field with a 1.31 ERA and seventh with a 2-1 record. Italy is still alive to advance at the World Championships and is currently tied with Canada for the final spot in Pool A. The Italians face off against Russia (1-4) today while Canada faces Pool A’s second-place team China (5-1) later this afternoon.