March 3, 1998
Few freshman come into a program expecting to make an immediate impact, but for freshman pitcher Jennifer White, there was no question what her role would be. A two-time high school All-American out of Tuttle, Oklahoma, White came to Florida State fully aware of the fact that she would have an opportunity to be the Lady Seminoles’ number one pitcher.
“When I came to Florida State, they told me I’d get a lot of playing time,” White said. “I was nervous, but really I was more excited just to be here. The softball program here is well known and I knew that the sport itself was big at Florida State. A pitcher is only good if she has a good team behind her and our whole team is great. I haven’t been too nervous because I know the team is behind me.”
Although she’s just a rookie, she is certainly playing like a veteran. Through 20 games, the righthander sports a team-leading 9-4 record and a ERA of 1.81. Her pitching has held opponents to a .228 batting average, but Florida State’s ace on the mound is also an ace at the plate. White has batted for herself in all 13 appearances and currently leads the team in batting average at .345.
White’s pitching has allowed Florida State to have one of its best starts in recent years. The Tribe opened the season winning 11 of its first 12 games behind the pitching of White, who earned seven of those victories. Two of those wins were without a doubt very monumental. In what Head Coach Dr. JoAnne Graf called “One of the best days in Florida State softball history,” White and the Lady Seminoles upset No. 3 Washington 1-0 and No. 2 Fresno State 2-1 in the same day! White pitched complete games against both teams, allowing just one earned run and recording just one walk. The shutout victory over Washington was FSU’s first win in four tries over the Huskies while the series with Fresno State started just last year with the Bulldogs taking the first game.
“I just couldn’t believe it (that they won both games),” White said. “I mean, I knew we could play with them, but to beat them in the same day was just really exciting. Just to see Coach’s (Graf) face after we won the second game … it was just amazing. The look on everybody’s faces was the best part. It just blew me away.”
FSU’s solid start boosted the Tribe nationally. Ranked No. 21 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Preseason Poll, Florida State skyrocketed to a tie for No. 9 in the season’s first regular-season poll. Only one other school moved up more spots from the preseason poll. The ranking marked Florida State’s highest since a No. 9 ranking back on March 13, 1996. Last season, FSU’s highest ranking was No. 15 in the last regular-season poll.
“We’ve had a good start, but right now, I don’t think we are showing how good we really are,” White said. “It’s amazing to think how good we could really be.”
Being nationally-ranked though is nothing new for Florida State softball and either is playing against nationally-ranked opponents. In fact, based on the season’s first poll, Florida State has played or will play four squads that are ranked in the top 10 in the country and seven of the nation’s top 25 teams. Nonetheless, the Florida State coaching staff will look to its rookie. No matter who the competition is, White will likely get the call and as she has already shown, she’ll be ready to answer!