Feb. 17, 2004
Tallahassee, FL –
There is no senior slump for NFCA first team All-American Jessica van der Linden. The reigning ACC Player of the Year is off to her best ever start on the mound and that continued Tuesday night. The Cerritos, CA native pitched her fifth career no-hitter as Florida State (10-0) blanked Georgia Southern (0-2) 4-0 for van der Linden’s third shutout in four starts. The southpaw is now 5-0 on the season and with her 15 K’s Tuesday night she has 58 on the year and has allowed just one run in 29.2 innings pitched.
“I am happy with the way I am pitching and the fact that we are winning,” said van der Linden. “I noticed I had a no-hitter going but I was trying not to think about it because that’s usually when something goes wrong. I have a great defense behind me and BillieAnne (Gay) deserves so much credit behind the plate.
“I think the difference for me as far as strikeouts go this year is that I have my rise ball under control. That is the key to the jump in my strikeout numbers.”
Van der Linden didn’t bat in game two of the doubleheader after injuring her hand in the first game of the day. Not having their top hitter didn’t stop the Seminoles from a 10-0 start though, which is tied for the third-best start in FSU history and the Seminoles have now swept 14 consecutive twin bills. After GSU limited the Tribe to three hits in game one, FSU racked up seven hits in game two including four extra base hits. Beth Wade led the way with a double and a triple while Elisa Vasquez recorded the sixth triple of her career.
“I think the way we have started this season is just awesome and I am so happy,” said van der Linden. “We are off to a great start. Statistically we are up in almost every category and that makes it so much easier for Casey (Hunter) and me when we are on the hill. This is a total team effort right now.”
In the top of the first, Georgia Southern pitchers seemed to be facing the same problems in game two as they did in game one. Starter Cary Moone (0-1) walked two batters, had a wild pitch and a passed ball and Veronica Wootson came home to give FSU an early 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the third, FSU used a two-out rally to extend its lead. The key hit was Vasquez’s triple to the wall in the gap in right center. Carly Brieske then had a great at bat as she fought off a tough pitch and fisted an RBI single through the left side of the infield. The RBI, her tenth of the year, equaled her total from her entire freshman year and moved Brieske into a tie for the team lead.
In the fourth, FSU continued to build on its lead as they added another run by virtue of two more extra base hits. Wade and Veronica Wootson each doubled with Wootson’s two-out hit accounting for her fourth RBI of the season.
Another mistake cost GSU in the bottom of the sixth. Wade recorded another extra base hit, this one a triple. With two outs a throwing error on a routine grounder allowed the senior to come home with FSU’s fourth run of the game.
Van der Linden took care of the rest. She faced just two batters over the minimum as she retired GSU in order in each of the first six innings. At one point she struck out 11 straight batters and struck out the side in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
The Seminoles return to action Friday in Jacksonville when they face the Dolphins in a doubleheader. Florida State’s next home game is Sunday, February 22 at 1:00 pm versus Florida A&M. The first 150 fans will receive a free water bottle and there will be a softball clinic with the FSU players following the game. To take part in the clinic you must pre-register and forms are available on line on the upcoming promotions webpage. For more information on the 2004 Seminole softball team, please log on to the official athletic website for FSU at www.seminoles.com.