April 5, 2005
:: Leading Off ::
After losing a season-long six straight and falling out of the national polls for the first time this season, the Florida State Seminoles fired back last week with four straight victories and prepare to battle intrastate rival Florida in an out-of-conference match-up on Thursday, April 7, in Gainesville. The doubleheader begins at 4:00 p.m. will be broadcasted live on Sun Sports. The Seminoles are ranked second in the Atlantic Coast Conference (by ACC victories) with a 24-16 overall record and a 6-5 league mark. Meanwhile, 15th-ranked Florida lost 2-of-3 outings against Georgia and are currently 29-10 overall and 8-4 in SEC play. The Tribe’s series against Virginia Tech last Saturday and Sunday (April 2-3) proved monumental for a couple reasons. On day one, legendary Seminole Softball Head Coach Dr. JoAnne Graf had the field named in her honor during pre-game festivities and then FSU went on to defeat the Hokies in the first ever meeting between the two programs. On Sunday, Graf earned career win No. 1,300 in a 5-2 effort. Florida State saw another first last week: freshman pitcher Tiffany McDonald notched the only no-no of the year by any Seminole staffer in the circle during the squad’s first run-rule outing of the season against Jacksonville. FSU won 11-0 and accumulated 11 hits, three more hits than it had totaled in its previous four games. Offensively, freshman catcher Melissa Wood and junior left fielder Natasha Jacob paced the squad with a .304 and .303 batting avg.
:: Florida ::
Florida has enjoyed a successful start with a
29-10 record on the season, but has lost four of its last six outings by a margin of -3 runs. The Seminoles have won the last four meetings between the schools and FSU owns an 11-5 all-time record versus the Gators. In 2004, the Tribe shut them out at home, 2-0, and current Seminole Veronica Wootson scored the game winning run off a Jessica van der Linden single. On the road, the Seminoles lead 6-2 and have not fell in Gainesville since the 1999 season. Florida has three main pitchers in the circle but switches off between Mandy Schuerman (9-3, 1.66 ERA) and Stacey Stevens (15-6, 2.20 ERA) the majority of the time. Outfielder Lindsey Cameron is batting .378 and utility player Shelley Stevens averages .358 at the plate, respectively. Florida is led by Karen Jones who is in her fifth season.
:: 1300! ::
It took 27.5 years, but FSU Head Softball Coach Dr. JoAnne Graf achieved what no softball coach has done by winning her 1,300th career victory against Virginia Tech on Sunday, April 3. The 5-2 win came just one day after Graf earned the honor of having the field named in honor at the Seminole Softball Complex. It now bares the name JoAnne Graf Field. Graf has exactly 150 more victories than the next person in line, who is Fresno State’s Margie Wright. What’s so interesting about Graf’s accomplishment, however, is she has earned all 1300 wins at Florida State, the same school she earned her degree from in 1975.
During the pre-game ceremony and revealing of the “JoAnne Graf Field” scoreboard sign, she was joined on the field by her mother, sister, FSU President T.K. Wetherell, Athletic Director Dave Hart, Associate Athletic Director for Compliance, Bob Minnix, and Dee Todd, representing the Atlantic Coast Conference. The ceremony lasted approximately 10 minutes and included a video message from former players and mentors. At halftime, Florida Governor Jeb Bush prepared a message in her honor and it was presented over the loud speaker.
During the reception that was prepared for her Saturday morning and later on field during the ceremony, Graf said, “There aren’t many people who get to coach at the school they graduated from. I am just real thankful that Florida State saw to have faith in me as a young coach.”
“At the reception today, my mom said that she didn’t care about the name on the field; she wanted to win,” Graf continued. “We played well this series. That is what makes me proud.”
:: The Last Time On TV ::
Florid State NFCA All-American pitcher Casey Hunter likes to be the star when on television. That notion proved true when on March 2 against Maine, the ace threw a then season-high 14 strikeouts during a game that was broadcasted on Sun Sports. With all due respect to Hunter, the game might have been quite boring to some spectators considering the native of Millstadt, Ill., retired 14-of-the-25 batters she faced. In seven innings, she allowed just one hit and walked only a single Black Bear. Nine days later, Hunter established a new career-high strikeout record in a single game when she retired 17 Radford batters.
The Seminoles prevailed during the contest on television, 1-0, when Freshman Brittany Osmon hit the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning when she knocked-in freshman
Whitney Buckmon who had reached base on a single.
:: Jacob’s Batting Woes ::
Up until two weeks ago, junior left fielder Natasha Jacob was hitting .430 and leading the ACC in eight statistical categories, enough to receive national attention and perhaps land on the USA Softball Watch List when the committee makes their cut April 15. But since facing Texas on March 17, Jacob has gone hitless in 10-of-12 games. In fact, up until the start of the drought, Jacob had perfect 4-4 and 3-3 appearances at the FSU Invitational where she was named Offensive MVP. Jacob’s average has plummeted from .430 to .303 (.127 points) in recent weeks, but it’s only a matter of time until the Coppell, Texas, returns and completes the season on a high note. Defensively, she has soared and is the only Seminole starter to not have a fielding error this season. In fact, during three years as a starter, she has only recorded one.
:: Moe Is Money ::
Florida State freshman catcher Melissa “Moe” Wood has really enjoyed a monstrous second half of the season. Not only is she pacing Florida State on offense with a team-high .304 average, but she also leads her squad with an outstanding slugging percentage (.522), RBIs (19) and home runs (5). In fact, her five home runs are on track to break a freshman single season record held by current Seminole softball second baseman Veronica Wootson. The record is eight and Wootson achieved that milestone last year and went on to earn NFCA second team All-American honors. Finally, Wood gets on base a team-best 39 percent of the time. Pretty good for a rookie.
:: B.A.Gs = SACS ::
We know one thing about FSU junior catcher BillieAnne Gay (BAGs)…she knows how to take one for the team. The native of Tallahassee guides the Seminoles with 12 sac bunts on the year and junior shortstop Tatiana George is right behind her with nine, respectively. Gay is hitting a team fourth-best .270; while sacs are her specialty, she also knows how to hit for power. Of 10 hits, two are doubles and one is a triple.
:: That’s A No-No ::
Florida State freshman Tiffany McDonald joined an elite group last weekend when she threw her first collegiate no-hitter against Jacksonville in an 11-0 shutout. McDonald’s no-no was the first of the season for the Tribe. She worked quickly and dominated the Dolphins for the entire second game of a doubleheader. The Belfair, Wash., native walked two and struck out seven batters. McDonald generated eight outs on the ground and one in the air, and threw the final pitch of the game just 88 minutes after throwing a called strike to begin the contest. McDonald’s teammate, Casey Hunter, has yet to pitch a no-hitter this season, but she has four in her career, including three last season. A look at no-hitters the past decade (complete set of box scores not available before 1995) are available on the printable release listed above.
:: Hunter In `05 ::
NFCA All-American pitcher Casey Hunter would be the first to admit that this season has been the toughest of all for the senior ace. She entered the year on the USA Softball Watch List, which is a preseason group of the nation’s 50 top players. Her numbers over the years have been quite impressive. Hunter lost only four games last year and ended the season with a 33-4 record and a she was the first FSU pitcher since Toni Gutierrez in 1992 to put together back-to-back sub 1.00 ERA seasons. In fact, up until this year, she had a career ERA of 0.76 and had never allowed a triple to be hit against. Currently she owns a 12-12 mark and a 1.42 ERA. Attached to the printable notes above is a year-by-year statistical analysis of Hunter’s numbers.
:: Up For Grabs ::
Coach Graf believes in giving all her players a chance, so during the Virginia Tech series she inserted junior Carly Brieske into the line-up in centerfield in place of freshman Whitney Buckmon. During her first game at the plate, Brieske went 2-for-2 against the Hokies and both hits were doubles. Roaming center field is nothing new for the native of Safety Harbor, Fla., as she started in 63-72 contests for the Seminoles in 2004. At the Women’s College World Series, she started in two games and appeared in all three. Another position that often changes it at catcher. The majority of the time freshman Melissa “Moe” Wood catches for Casey Hunter and BillieAnne Gay is behind the plate for Tiffany McDonald, but that too switches according to different situations. Both Wood and Gay are outstanding at their positions and their statistics are almost identical across the board. Offensively, Wood leads the team in batting average and Gay paces her squad in sacrifice bunts and she is fourth in batting, respectively. There is no doubt that catcher and center field positions are major strengths for the team in `05!
:: Cali-Girl ::
Freshman Brittany Osmon (San Diego, Calif.) is one of the most overlooked players on the squad, perhaps because she has struggled in the later part of the season offensively. However, she and Natasha Jacob are the only two Seminoles to have started every game for FSU in 2005. Osmon is one person that is always reliable at first base and she often displays her famous splits when reaching for balls. Currently she sports a .983 fielding percentage, which is better than any other infielder. She defines the term “defensive stopper” and once her bat starts working, it’s only a matter of time until Osmon starts getting noticed around the league.
:: Accident Prone ::
Tatiana George has gone through her yearly injury, and after nose surgery two weeks ago, she was back in the line-up the last five games. It’s almost a joke on the team now as to how or when she’ll get hurt. In 2004, she was off to the best start of her career before a fractured wrist caused her to miss 26 starts and was not able to hit for more than a month. During her sophomore year, George was cleated in the knee and had stitches which kept her out a week. During the 2002 campaign (freshman), she injured her ankle and missed games. What’s not a joke is she’s a defensive gem and that explains why she has started at shortstop since her freshman season. George is easy to spot when batting these days because she wears a black helmet unlike all her teammates who display gold. What’s the reason? When she broke her nose at North Carolina, the staff had to insert a grill on the front and that’s the only color they could find.
N’ Quotes From This Week
What is your most memorable coaching moment?
Oh geez. I don’t have one. I really enjoy when squeeze plays work. I have fun calling them, because that’s really related to reading the opponent and having faith in the batter to put the ball down. The final out of championship games are always fun too. –JoAnne Graf
If coaching softball was not part of your life what would your occupation be?
I’d like to be a dolphin feeder. Dolphins are pretty neat. I would like to try to train them. They have a cute smile.
“The second game, I think for the first time this year we were all just together,” left fielder LaShaun Davis said. “I think that is why we were so successful. When you work as a unit you’ll win.”
“At the reception today, my mom said that she didn’t care about the name on the field; she wanted to win,” Florida State head coach JoAnne Graf said. “We played well today. That is what makes me proud.”
“This whole season I have tried to be a team player,” Carly Brieske said. “It was really nice to finally contribute and get a couple of hits in there.”
“There aren’t many people who get to coach at the school they graduated from,” Graf said. “I am just real thankful that Florida State saw to have faith in me as a young coach.”
“I think everyone came through and shared the no-hitter tonight,” said Tiffany McDonald. “To be honest it means a lot to have the support of my teammates both offensively and defensively. Tonight it helped me a lot when our team came out and got a lot of hits right away. It’s nice to be 11-3 and I expect myself to only improve. I feel like
I’m now catching up and getting to where I would have been if not for the injury in the fall.”
“I don’t really think about my size as a challenge when hitting the ball,” said LaShaun Davis, who had her third home run of the season tonight. “I just try to hit the ball and it seems when I get the barrel on the bat it just goes. When I hit the home run I was in an RBI situation and I was hitting for power. You have to look at where your defense is and how they are playing.”
“The most spontaneous thing I’ve ever done was making a bet with my players to dye my hair and put in cornrows for the World Series last year or doing the `worm dance.” -JoAnne Graf
AVG: Melissa Wood, .304
HITS: Natasha Jacob, 36
RUNS: Veronica Wootson, 19
RBI: Melissa Wood, 19
2B: Lesley Palmer, 11
3B: Jacob, 3
HR: Wood, 5
TB: Lesley Palmer, 50
Walks: Osmon, Jacob, 14
ERA: Tiffany McDonald, 1.34
K’s: Casey Hunter, 207
WINS: McDonald/Hunter, 12
SAVES: Hunter, 2
IP: Casey Hunter, 152.1
Appearances: C. Hunter, 27
For The Record:
USA Today/NFCA pts.
ESPN.com/USA Softball pts.
Weeks held at current rankings 1/1
Letterwinners Returning 12
Starters Returning 6