March 17, 2005 - by
Top Five Teams Await No. 22/24 FSU This Week At The Kia Klassic In California

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  • Tournament Central

    March 17, 2005


    The No. 22/24 Florida State softball squad kicks-off the 2005 Kia Klassic March 17-20 on the campus of Cal State Fullerton. The Seminoles have perhaps the most difficult pool as they will face No. 1 Arizona, No. 5 Texas, and Long Beach State in the opening round. The Longhorns and Tribe face-off first Thursday at noon (ET) and then FSU takes on the 49ers at 4:30 p.m. (ET). On Friday morning, the Seminoles close out pool play against top-ranked Arizona at 9:00 a.m. Live stats are available for all outings; however, no audio will be available this week. The Seminoles enter the Kia Klassic with a 19-9 overall record and a 3-2 ACC mark. The top two teams from each pool advance to the championship bracket, while two bottom two teams move to the consolation bracket on Saturday.


    Fifth-ranked Texas features Olympic pitcher Cat Osterman who was named the USA Softball National Player of the Week Monday after recording back-to-back no-hit performances. The 6’2″ junior left-handed hurler went 2-0 for the week not allowing a hit while also recording her second perfect game of the season. On Tuesday, Osterman increased her record to 9-2 thanks to a shutout against UCLA. The Longhorns enter the contest with Florida State owning a 19-3 mark. This week’s match-up will be the sixth time the two teams have met with UT owning a 3-2 advantage. Florida State won the last meeting in 2004, taking home a 2-1 victory.


    Long Beach State has a 16-9 overall record and fell to Arizona today in the opening round of the tournament. Thursday’s meeting will be the fourth time the two schools have battled and FSU leads 2-1. LBSU, who went 4-1 last weekend, dropped out of the ESPN/USA Softball Top-25 this week, as the poll was released 3/15. It is the first time that the 49ers have been out of the Top-25. They did collect 24 “Receiving Votes”. Senior Lauren Johnson leads the 49ers in batting average (.333), Runs (18), Hits (26), Home Runs (4), and RBI (23). LBSU is 3-5 vs. ranked teams this season. The 49ers face 10 Top-25 teams this season. Long Beach State had been ranked in six consecutive USA Softball/ESPN Top-25 polls this season, before dropping out on 3/15. (The 49ers dropped out of the NFCA Poll on Mar. 2). Since Mar. 29, 2003 (thru Mar. 15, 2005), Long Beach State has won 87 of its last 111 games played (78 percent).


    Olympic softball coach Mike Candrea guides the top-ranked Arizona Wildcats, the only undefeated team left in the nation with a 21-0 record. As Florida State head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf stated, her team must simply play error-free in order to overcome Arizona Friday morning. The Seminoles have never defeated the Wildcats, with Arizona owning a 9-0 mark. The No. 1 Arizona softball team opened the 2005 Kia Klassic with a 4-0 shutout against Long Beach State on Wednesday. Junior pitcher Alicia Hollowell tossed her third perfect game of the year against Long Beach State, a seven-inning effort in which she struck out 16 of 21 batters. Hollowell now has seven no-hitters, 188 strikeouts and an ERA of 0.39 this season.


    The Seminoles, after defeating host Cal State Fullerton, moved into the semi-finals last year at the tournament but were unable to continue play because of travel plans. Head Coach Dr. JoAnne Graf wanted the students to miss as little school as possible and there was no quick alternative to get back to Tallahassee. Therefore, with the title within reach, the team had to withdraw.


    Florida State left Tallahassee early Wednesday morning and spent the whole day traveling. The team had three stops before finally arriving in California at 7:30 p.m. Tallahassee time. After sitting in Orange County traffic for an hour, the Tribe drove up to the Embassy Suites and immediately went to the rooms to study and focus on this week’s tournament. The players can expect an early morning wake-up call, as they must leave the hotel at 7:15 a.m. for two important games Thursday. Whew!


    Florida State left fielder Natasha Jacob has emerged as one of the top players in the country this season. The junior is the only starter with out an error and she leads the team with a .417 batting average. Furthermore, she paces the Tribe in eight offensive categories and ranks at the top of the ACC in seven categories. In fact, her batting average in second in the league. Last week at the FSU Invitational, she was named Offensive MVP. She hit a team-high .667 in five games during the tournament, producing a team-best 10 hits and 11 total bases. She slugged .773 and got on base 68 percent of the time. Her performance against Radford and Southern Illinois was perfect at the plate as she went 4-for-4 and 3-for-3, respectively. Against Top 25 teams, Jacob hits .417. In the eyes of those that have seen her compete this year, it’s highly likely that she’ll be on the USA Softball Top 25 list when the organization makes its cut in April.


    Florida State landed four players on the FSU Invitational team last weekend. The Seminoles finished second to Southern Illinois and Melissa Wood, Kim Hoffer, Natasha Jacob, and Casey Hunter were selected to the team. This is the second time this year that Hunter made an all-tournament team. It was the first time these players earned the honor. In fact, eight different Seminoles have been awarded all-tournament accolades at least once this year. During the Sunshine State Tournament, Brittany Osmon, Veronica Wootson, and Tiffany McDonald were picked and Tatiana George was selected at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. To show even more dimensions of the team, LaShaun Davis is the only Seminole to be ACC Player of the Week despite not earning any all-tournament awards yet.


    The story of the 2005 campaign has been the Seminole freshman class. The four scholarship freshmen (Whitney Buckmon, Tiffany McDonald, Brittany Osmon, Melissa Wood) have enjoyed a stellar season and contributed a considerably amount of playing time. Osmon and Buckmon have started every game at first base and outfield, respectively. Wood was behind the plate 24/28 times, and McDonald sports a team-best 9-1 record in the circle. Furthermore, Wood has exploded at the plate in recent weeks. She went from sixth on the team in batting average, to second in just a matter of six games with a .365 clip.


    Three Seminoles will enjoy a homecoming of sorts at the Kia Klassic. Senior Tatiana George and Veronica Wootson are from nearby Fontana, Calif., and Brittany Osmon lives two hours south in San Diego. Also from the Pacific Northwest is Tiffany McDonald, a native of Belfair, Wash.


    The Seminoles are 0-4 against teams either currently ranked or teams that have been ranked in the national polls. In fact, only four Seminoles sported a batting average above .200 when facing these teams. Natasha Jacob batted .417 in the four games, and LaShaun Davis hit .273, respectively. Tatiana George, who hit .200 against Top 25 squads, had a team-high two RBIs.


    Florida State lost 5-of-9 games by one run and in four of them, errors cost the Seminoles. In fact, the Tribe has only engaged in five error free games the entire season! During seven outings, Florida State recorded seven or more miscues in seven innings of play. Once the Seminoles find a way to cut out the errors, they can expect to upset many teams.


    The Tribe has quite a problem when playing on Sunday. The team is 0-4 on the last day of the week, and loses by a margin of -2.5 runs. Senior third baseman Lesley Palmer plays best on Sunday with a .455 batting average. Hunter has lost all four games on Sunday and boasts an abnormal high 1.52 ERA on the last day of the week.


    The 24th-ranked Florida State softball game versus Iowa State was cancelled Tuesday because of heavy rain in Tallahassee. The game will not be made up at this time. Therefore, the Tribe’s last official outing was against Southern Illinois, where they fell 4-0.

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