April 9, 2003
Tallahassee, FL –
On the day junior Jessica van der Linden found out she was one of 25 finalists for the American Softball Association’s Collegiate Player of the Year award, she went out and did what she has done every day for the last month. The Cerritos, CA native threw her third straight shutout and increased her scoreless streak to 29 innings as she pitched 14th-ranked Florida State (32-9) to a 2-0 win and sweep of UCF (28-23). The win was the 13th in a row for FSU, which is tied for the ninth longest run in team history.
“I really had no idea we had won 13 games in a row,” said van der Linden. “I knew we had been playing well as of late. Our pitching has been good, our defense has been good but it is obvious we need to pick things up offensively.”
Van der Linden (11-4), an All-America candidate, picked up her fourth shutout and 11th complete game as she struck out 13 Golden Knight batters and allowed just two hits. She and Casey Hunter combined to limit UCF to three hits in the two games. With her 13 Ks, van der Linden has now struck out double digit batters in six straight starts and in nine of her last 10 starts. Since the end of February she has dropped her ERA from 2.06 to 1.12 after Wednesday night’s shutout.
“I really did not pitch well to start the season and have made some adjustments on the mound,” said van der Linden. “I am taking my time in between pitches and really focusing. I’m concentrating on my mechanics rather than getting up there and trying to throw the ball.”
Florida State, which swept its eighth straight doubleheader, was led offensively by Brandi Stuart and Elisa Vasquez. Stuart went 2 for 3 in the game and finished the twin bill with three hits in seven at bats including a double and a triple. Vasquez was responsible for both runs as her two-RBI triple was the difference in the game. The junior is now tied for the team lead with 25 RBIs on the year,
After both teams went hitless through the first, Florida State looked like it was going to jump on top of the Knights early on. Stuart opened the bottom of the second with a double to right center. She then stole third but she was picked off on a failed suicide squeeze attempt, which moved the game into the top of the third.
Florida State tried to get a rally going in the bottom of the third as Shandra Colzie drew a one-out walk and Tatiana George reached via a bunt single putting runners on first and second. After a fielder’s choice left the Tribe with two outs and runners on the corners, Vasquez came to the plate. The junior cleared the bases with her triple into the gap in right center as FSU jumped in front 2-0.
That was all the run support van der Linden would need. She set the Golden Knights down in order in three of the seven innings as she cruised to the win. The junior, who had been lacking run support in the past, has made sure of late that isn’t an issue.
“I have no complaints about the run support I am getting out there,” said van der Linden. “We just need to hit as a team. All of us need to do a better job at the plate, including myself.”
The Seminoles next head to South Carolina to play two games versus Furman Saturday, April 12 at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. For more information on the 2003 Florida State softball team, please log on to seminoles.com, the official athletic home for Florida State athletics on the internet.