May 12, 2011
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – The fourth-seeded Florida State University softball team seeks its conference-best 11th Atlantic Coast Conference postseason crown when it begins first-round play against fifth-seeded Virginia Tech on Friday, May 13, at 7:30 p.m. at Shirley Clements Mewborn Field in Atlanta.
Fans who cannot make the short trip and are looking to access FSU’s tournament games can log on to the ACC’s official website, theACC.com, and watch live via video stream for Friday and Saturday’s contests. Should the Seminoles advance to Sunday’s championship game that begins at 1 p.m., fans can watch on the ACC Network’s regional coverage. Play by play will be done by Leah Secondo, while Barbara Jordan will be providing color analysis.
Should FSU reach the second round on Saturday, it would play the winner of top-seeded Georgia Tech and eighth-seeded Virginia at 3:30 p.m.
“This is such an important time of the year but it is so much fun,” head coach Lonni Alameda said. “Our team knows what they have to do. We’ve practiced very well and have played well over the last half of this season. We’re looking forward to going back up to Atlanta and laying it all on the line in what should be another competitive ACC Tournament.”
The Seminoles (27-26, 9-11) are coming off a 9-4 victory in their series finale over 16th-ranked Georgia Tech, which is hosting this weekend’s conference championship. They will look to avenge their series loss against the fifth-seeded Hokies (37-19, 9-12) back in the beginning of April, when they fell in two of three games.
All three games against Virginia Tech were decided by one run in what was a pitcher-dominated weekend. For the Seminoles, redshirt freshman hurler Jessica Nori finished the week going 0-1 with a 1.17 ERA in two appearances, including one game started. She allowed just two runs in 12 innings pitched.
Seminole ace Sarah Hamilton went 1-1 that weekend with a 2.15 ERA and a shutout. She struck out 20 in 13 innings pitched and held the Hokie hitters to a .170 batting average.
The Seminoles are hoping to make plans for a school-record 12th consecutive NCAA Regional appearance, with the conference championship play a large role in postseason implications. After defeating 16th-ranked Georgia Tech last Sunday, 9-4, FSU’s rating percentage index rose nine spots to No. 51, while Virginia Tech ironically sits at 52nd.
For the regular season, FSU earned five Top 40 RPI victories against Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Maryland, Long Beach State and BYU. It also finished with 12 Top 70 RPI wins that also include Virginia Tech, Hofstra, South Alabama, two against N.C. State and two versus Virginia. The Seminoles defeated three-nationally ranked opponents in Georgia Tech, Kentucky and BYU, and finished 18-15 against a difficult non-conference schedule that includes 11 current teams in the Top 50 RPI.
FSU hopes to use its momentum from last Sunday’s victory and build toward this all-important conference weekend. FSU’s 15 base hits against the Yellow Jackets were a game high in conference play, breaking its 14-hit attack recorded at Boston College on April 16. The Seminoles also recorded 27 total bases, breaking their previous best total of 24 also set against the Eagles.
FSU owns nine ACC Tournament titles as well as a shared championship for the most by any school in conference history. The Seminoles enter Friday’s first-round contest with a 47-17 (.738) record in ACC Tournament play. It has been the No. 4 seed just one other time in school history, which happened in 2007 when it finished 1-2 at the ACC championship during the double-elimination era.
The Seminoles have finished as the tournament runner-up the last two seasons.
Leading FSU into the postseason is junior outfielder Shayla Jackson. The slap-hitter from Pembroke Pines, Fla., had a superb regular season after leading the Seminoles with a .345 batting average, good enough for eighth in the ACC.
The do-it-all performer is second in the ACC with 14 doubles, tied for third with three triples and fourth with 60 hits. She also shows a .477 slugging percentage and managed to strike out just six times in 181 plate appearances. Jackson also leads FSU with 19 multiple-hit performances, hitting out of the No. 2 slot in 32 of her 53 games.
According to the latest rankings, Jackson is the 11th most difficult player in the country to strike out. She fans just once every 29 at-bats. Jackson also joins teammate Ashley Stager as the only Seminoles to start every game at the same position.
The combination of Jackson and sophomore infielder Tiffani Brown has given the Seminoles a tremendous presence at the top of the batting order. Brown has compiled a team-best 61 base hits as she has started 45 of 53 games from the leadoff spot.
The Tallahassee resident is hitting .326 and has stolen 24 bases in 28 attempts this season. She is first in the ACC and seventh nationally with six triples, first in the ACC with 184 at-bats, second with 45 runs scored and 200 plate appearances, third in base hits and tied for fourth in stolen bases.
Follow all of the action this weekend by logging on to theACC.com. Fans can also keep track of each FSU game through CBS GameTracker off the seminoles.com softball page, and follow constant in-game tweets on @FSU_softball.