Jan. 30, 2008
The 2008 season marks head coach JoAnne Graf’s 30th year at the helm of the Seminole softball program. It is also quite possibly the toughest schedule Dr. Graf has seen since her first season at Florida State in 1979.
The Seminoles will host three contests this year beginning with the Early Bird Tournament February 8-9 before traveling to Georgia for the NFCA Leadoff Classic for the sixth-straight year. In mid-March, the squad will take over the west coast as they compete in the Judi Garman Classic hosted by Cal State-Fullerton for the third consecutive season.
Tournament play puts Florida State up against some heavy competition including Arizona, Tennessee and Washington – all nationally ranked in the top 15 at the end of last season.
Coach Graf on the 2008 Schedule:
“It’s a very tough schedule this season. The games we are playing at the NFCA Tournament, the Judi Garman Classic and even our home tournaments are against some phenomenal opponents who are going to be nationally ranked.
“I think they will really prepare us for the conference schedule, which is really tough top to bottom. We have created one of the most challenging schedules I think we have had in my thirty years at Florida State.”
Senior Tiffany McDonald will once again start on the mound in her final season as a Seminole. A co-captain this year, McDonald set the Florida State career saves record last season with eight after throwing the final two and two-thirds innings against Troy on May 2. The Washington native recorded 17 wins in 2007 and finished the year with a 1.92 ERA.
Sophomore Terese Gober also looks to be very strong this season. The Georgia native throws harder than anyone on the pitching staff and threw her first collegiate no-hitter against Jacksonville in the April 17 doubleheader last year. Gober won 13 of 17 games and notched 2.11 ERA.
The sole lefty on the staff this season is once again Melissa May. The junior south paw improved in 2007, throwing a no-hitter against Memphis in the Sunshine State Tournament and recording a season ERA of 1.82.
New to the Seminole pitching staff this season is Tallahassee native Sarah Hamilton. Standing at five-foot-ten, Hamilton is one of the tallest players on the team.
Graf on the Pitching Staff:
“Pitching is one of our strengths this year. We have quite a bit of depth in that position. All of our pitchers are very different and I think that gives us a lot of maneuverability. Also, if one of our girls gets tired or hurt then we have the depth to last through that.”
“Tiffany is really strong; she’s been through the battles – the tough games and the pressure packed games. I think she is ready to have a phenomenal season. I think the team will look up to her to see what she is doing and I know she will lead us very well.”
“Terese is ready to have a break-out year and I’m really excited to see what she does this season. She is very competitive especially now that she has her rookie season under her belt.”
“Melissa is a very smart pitcher. She keeps the ball down and we’ll get a lot of ground balls from her. I think if she can have a healthy year, she will begin to dominate and give us that lefty pitcher which is something we like to have in our lineup.”
“Sarah will be learning as she goes through the season. She is a tall kid with a lot of movement on her pitches. She is pretty tough and competitive and I think she is going to have a good year.”
The veteran behind the plate this season is sophomore Robin Ahrberg who started 55 of 59 games at this position her first season as a Seminole. Newcomer Allison Collins is a strong presence at catcher and was a three-time All-Area recipient at Niceville High School in Florida. Also looking to put in some time in this position is junior Jessica Gilmore who rotated in the outfield and notched a career high three home runs last season.
Graf on Catchers:
“I think Robin is going to continue to improve with her throws down to second this year and she will continue to work well with the umpires and the pitchers.”
“Allison is a physically strong catcher. As she learns to use her strength and size she will become a very intimidating catcher.”
“Jessica will be our third go-to catcher. She hasn’t played at the catcher position for us yet, but has the desire to and will get some experience behind the plate this season.”
Starting at first again this year will be senior south paw Brittany Osmon with fellow senior Kelly Langston rotating in. Osmon ranked sixth at the end of 2007 with her .303 batting average and her six homeruns was the third-best on the squad. Langston, who started in 30 games at first, enters her second season at Florida State after transferring in 2006 from Tallahassee Community College.
Graf on First Basemen:
“Brittany is a natural lefty so she has an advantage there, where Kelly has the opportunity to get playing time based on her hitting. Both are very knowledgeable, experienced and seasoned at first.”
A fresh face at second will be newcomer Kristie McConn, a graduate of Bishop Kelley in Oklahoma. McConn left her mark in her high school record books, ranking second in triples with 29 and third for batting average (.392) and stolen bases (55). Backing up McConn will be fellow freshman Brittany Joseph an MVP from Sussex Technical High School in Delaware. Senior Robyn Petrovich will also rotate into second this season and will continue to serve as the bullpen catcher.
Graf on Second Basemen:
“Kristie is a young player, but very talented and a hard worker. She has been very impressive in the fall and continues to improve.”
“Brittany’s been the nicest surprise of the fall. She has really blossomed and continues to improve and do well. She is that kind of player that relishes competition and she will be the first off the bench if any of our middle infielders get hurt.”
“Robyn works very hard and is the epitome of what I consider a “team player”; she does whatever it is she can to help the team.”
Short stop is another position patrolled by a freshman. Ashley Stager was a first team All-State, All-Conference and All-North Sun Coast honoree from Trinity High School in Florida.
Graf on Short Stop:
“Ashley is a good defensive player with a really strong arm and a good bat. She’s like a sponge and she listens to you when you coach her and she’s also very competitive. Ashley loves the game of softball and I think it will be exciting to see her and McConn learn to work together.”
Starting at third is veteran Michelle Snyder who started 68 of 69 games last season at this position. The junior ranked second on the squad with 141 assists last year, notching a career high seven assists against UCF. Backing-up Snyder will be sophomore Camille Garcia who saw action in eight games last season.
Graf on Third Basemen:
“Defensively, Michelle is one of the best players I have seen in the country; while offensively she keeps getting better every year.”
“Camille is a solid all-around player, works very hard and continues to get better each year.”
This season the outfield will be sprinkled with veterans at every position. Alternating between right and left field will be Gilmore and 2007 ACC Rookie of the Year Monica Montez. Senior Whitney Buckmon brings her speed to either center or left, while sophomore Carly Wynn will mainly patrol center.
Graf on the Outfielders:
“Whitney has great speed and she is our fastest outfielder. We look for her to steal a lot of bases this year and we plan to run her quite a bit. She has improved tremendously throughout her time here and we’ll place her at either center or left field.”
“Jessica has a great arm in the outfield and is a very good bat. She can play either left or right field this season.”
“Carly is a lefty at bat and played a lot her freshman season, mostly in center field. She’s a very vocal outfielder, probably one of the most vocal outfielders on the team and she really takes control of the outfield and that’s why we like to put her in center.”
“Monica was the ACC Rookie of the Year last season and she won mainly because of her offensive skills, so we want her to continue improving with her bat. Defensively, her reaction time to the ball has improved especially now that she knows the other outfielders and she’s become more comfortable out there.”
Returning for her 10th season as the associate head coach for the Seminoles is Louie Berndt. She will once again coach first base and work with the offense and outfielders.
New to the staff and working with the pitchers is Barbara Sherwood who comes to Florida State after two years at Wisconsin.
Graf on Berndt:
“Louie has been here at Florida State quite a few years now and she is very knowledgeable of the game. She works closely with our hitters and our outfield. She’s a very good coach and does a great job both on and off the field.”
Graf on Sherwood:
“Barb is in her first year with us and we really like her. She has worked really well with the pitchers and has already helped them improve; and they seem to get along with her. We are really excited to have her on our staff with the years of experience she has already, she will be very beneficial to us.”