Feb. 7, 2004
Tallahassee, FL –
Day one of the 2004 softball season couldn’t have gone much better for the 19th-ranked Seminoles (2-0). The Tribe recorded their second win of the day in impressive fashion as they blanked Louisville (0-3) 8-0 to move to 2-0 in the Seminole Classic Tournament. All-American Jessica van der Linden (1-0) picked up the complete game shutout while Elisa Vasquez knocked in three more RBIs, giving her five on the day.
“I felt pretty good about our performance,” said head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf. “There was some improvement from the first game and our kids hit very well. Elisa (Vasquez) and Veronica (Wootson) both had big days and Jess kept us in a tight game for five innings. It was a good start”
Vasquez has picked up right where she left off in 2003. The third-team NFCA All-American had the second most RBIs in single season history at FSU in 2003 and she is off to another record-setting start. On top of her five RBIs, the senior catcher is hitting .500, slugging, 1.167 has a double, a home run and seven total bases.
“The home run was exciting and very unexpected,” said Elisa Vasquez. “I was glad to help the team. I am feeling good at the plate. The more runs I can drive in the more I can help this team win and that is the attitude I have this season.”
While Vasquez stole the show with her power and run production, freshman Veronica Wootson continued to shine in game two. The California native went 2-for-3 with two more runs scored. At the end of day one, the second baseman led the team with a .600 average, four runs scored and a .714 on base percentage.
“It was a great day today. I came out relaxed and tried not to think too much and just play the game I know how to play,” said Wootson. “I came out here and I had high expectations for myself and on day one I accomplished those goals. There is still a long way to go but it actually feels really good.”
For van der Linden, the shutout was the senior’s 20th of her career and it was win number 48. Her nine strikeouts moved her career total to 521 where she sits in fourth place all-time at Florida State. Most impressively, she didn’t issue a single walk in the seven inning outing.
“I felt really good out there but my catcher (BillieAnne Gay) really kept me in the game. I owe her dinner and desert for all the balls she was able to keep out of the dirt,” said van der Linden. “I am excited about what we accomplished as a team here today and I hope we can all keep going from here.
“The highest priority to me is pitching. Yes, I would love to be out there getting big hits every game but people go up and down at the plate and there is a whole team here that is capable of contributing. In the circle it is on either me, Casey (Hunter) or Amy (Harrison). So the pressure to do our job out there is even greater than it is at the plate.”
Things looked like they would get off to a good start for FSU as in its first at bat of the night, the Tribe proceeded to load the bases off Louisville starter Catherine Bishop (0-1). The big hit was a van der Linden double, which was followed by a Lesley Palmer walk. That brought up Vasquez who started her season 2-for-2 with two RBIs in the earlier game. The senior came through again as she knocked in her third run of the day on a ground out putting FSU up 1-0.
Louisville held FSU hitless after the van der Linden double until the top of the fourth when Wootson struck again lacing a triple to right center. The speedy freshman tried to come home on a slow infield grounder later in the frame but the Cardinals threw her out at the plate. Bishop then finished the Tribe off in the fourth with her first strikeout of the game.
Florida State looked to add to its lead again in the top of the fifth when an error and a walk put runners on first and second with nobody out. After a Tatiana George sacrifice bunt advanced the runners, FSU didn’t cash in as a spectacular catch by Sara Bausher robbed Palmer of extra bases and two RBIs.
The Cards mounted an attack of their own in the fifth. A lead off single and a fielder’s choice, where FSU failed to get the lead runner, put two on with no outs. After a foul out to Beth Wade and van der Linden’s seventh strikeout of the game, the southpaw ended the UL threat on another foul out, this one to catcher Gay.
In the top of the sixth, the Seminoles once again went on the hunt for an insurance run. Veronica Wootson started the rally with her third hit of the day and she was followed by Carly Brieske who singled into left with two away in the frame. This time FSU came through as Natasha Jacob picked the perfect time for her first hit of the season. The sophomore singled down the right field line plating Wootson and putting the Tribe up 2-0. Florida State added to the lead as Jacob and Brieske executed a perfect double steal allowing the center fielder to come home with FSU’s third run of the game.
In the top of the seventh, FSU increased its lead to 8-0 as they scored five runs for the third time in 12 innings Saturday. It started with a head’s up play by van der Linden that allowed her to advance to second when no Cardinal covered the bag. Palmer then drove her home as she laced a double into the gap in right. That brought up Vasquez who once again came through in a big way. The senior drilled a 2-0 offering over the left field fence for her first home run of the year. The blast scored her second and third RBIs of the game and increased her team lead to five in just two games. The Seminoles weren’t done hitting the ball out of the park yet. After a Wootson walk and a pop out, Brieske got into the act launching the first homer of her career. The two-run blast cleared the wall in dead center 220-feet away. It was the second consecutive hit for the sophomore after going hitless in her first six at bats.
“I saw the ball really well and was able to drive it,” said Brieske. “I adjusted my swing, stayed back and things started coming together for me at the plate.”
The Seminoles return to action later today as they wrap-up their first day of action at the 2004 Seminole Classic with a game against Louisville (0-2). The game is slated to start at approximately 6:00 p.m. For more information on the 2004 Seminole softball team, please log on to the official athletic website for FSU at www.seminoles.com.