April 2, 2003
GIVING US ONE HEEL OF A TIME
Florida State continues ACC play when they travel to Chapel Hill to face North Carolina this weekend. Florida State leads the all-time series 37-10 but the Tar Heels have won four of the last seven meetings including two ACC Tournament wins that ended FSU’s run in the conference tourney. Despite the Heels success of late, it is a whole different story when the teams meet in ACC play. Florida State has won seven in a row and 11 of the last 12 in ACC play. In their final meeting of 2002, North Carolina handed the Seminoles a 5-2 loss, knocking them out of the ACC Tournament for the second consecutive season. The Tar Heels’ 10 victories versus FSU are second only to Virginia (13) among ACC schools.
Last season, Florida State finished 3-1 verses UNC coming from behind for all three wins. In the first meeting, Shandra Colzie went 3-for-4 with three runs scored, and Brandi Stuart had 2 RBIs in the Seminoles’ 7-6 eight-inning victory. In their second meeting of the 2002 season, Florida State overcame a 5-4 deficit in the sixth and went on to win it 9-5. The Tribe defeated the Tarheels 3-2 in the opening round of last year’s ACC tournament when Brandi Stuart scored the winning run on Beth Wade’s suicide squeeze. In their final meeting, UNC’s Kelly Ramsey nailed a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to break a 2-2 tie and to deny the Seminoles a spot in the ACC Championship game.
THE ACC SERIES
1992 FSU 12-1 UNC 1-0 1994 FSU 5-1 FSU 6-1 UNC 1-0 1995 FSU 6-3 FSU 3-1 1996 UNC 3-2 UNC 5-4 1997 FSU 6-0 FSU 12-4 1998 FSU 3-2 FSU 7-6 1999 UNC 6-0 FSU 8-3 2000 FSU 10-9 FSU 5-4 2001 FSU 2-0 FSU 5-0 2002 FSU 7-6 FSU 9-5
PHOENIX NOT JUST IN ARIZONA
Florida State meets Elon for just the first time in school history this weekend. The Elon Phoenix are 10-12, with their most recent game ending in a loss to Birmingham-Southern. The team moved to Division I play in 2000 and finished the 2002 season 16-39, placing second in the Big South Conference (6-4). Dana Richardson is the lone senior on the team and Jenny Gustin is one of Elon’s top offensive threats with 13 career home runs and 23 doubles. Junior third baseman Christina Melton and junior Jamie Dupont lead the team this season with four home runs apiece.
HOPE THE STREAK DOESN’T BUST A LEAK
As they have done all season long, the 2003 Seminoles have rebounded from their worst slide of the year (just a 1-3 hiccup) with their longest winning streak of the season. Florida State will enter Friday’s twin bill with Elon in the midst of winning seven straight games. This is FSU’s second seven-game winning streak this year and they also have put together a six-game streak in 2003. What is so special about the current run is that five of the seven wins have come away from home. In the other two streaks, nine of the 13 wins came in the friendly confines of the Seminole Softball Complex. The 2003 group is nowhere near the Tribe’s record winning streak of 32 games set in 1985. In the last 20 years, FSU softball teams have put together winning streaks of 10 or more games in 16 of those seasons and overall they have 24 10+ game winning streaks. Last year’s longest run was 10 games and in 2001, FSU had an 11 game winning streak. IF the Seminoles can sweep this weekend, they will equal the longest winning streak since 1998 when FSU won 18 games in a row.
STAR OF THE WEEK
Junior Jessica van der Linden continued to steamroll towards All-America honors with another brilliant week at the plate and inside of the circle. Versus Maryland and FAMU, she led the squad in hits, doubles, runs scored and total bases. She was also second on the team with two RBIs, a .636 slugging percentage and a .462 on base percentage. Her three doubles in three games moved the junior within two doubles of the all-time FSU career mark. On the mound, she posted a 0.57 ERA, struck out 19 batters in 12.1 innings of work while allowing just one earned run as FSU swept its ACC-opening series with Maryland. She started the week with a huge game in FSU’s conference opener with the Terps. Her first single put the Tribe up 1-0 as she came through with runners on second and third. Knocked in FSU’s fourth run with her first double of the weekend. She started game two inside the circle and pitched an 11 strike out gem as she gave up just one earned run in 9.1 innings pitched. She also played a key role at the plate. With Florida State trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, it was van der Linden’s double to lead off the inning that sparked a two run rally to tie the game that FSU eventually won in 10 innings. She fueled another Tribe comeback in FSU’s final game of the week. After falling behind early to Florida A&M, van der Linden started FSU’s comeback when she followed the Tribe’s lead-off single with her eighth double of the season. She came in and picked up her first save of the year as she struck out eight Lady Rattler batters in just three innings of work.
For the eighth time in 12 seasons, Florida State opened an ACC campaign at 2-0. The Tribe’s sweep over Maryland, their first-ever versus the Terps in an ACC opener, keeps the Seminoles on course for their fourth undefeated conference season in team history. The Seminoles are 67-16 all-time in ACC games and have never lost more than three ACC games in a season. When FSU starts off 2-0, which they have done eight times now, they have gone on to win the ACC title five times. If the Seminoles are able to improve to 4-0, it will mark the sixth time they have started an ACC campaign 4-0 and four of the previous five times they either won or shared the ACC Title.
SHE STRIKES AGAIN
It is hard to argue anyone has been as clutch as freshman Carly Brieske has been this year. After recording game-winning hits in three of FSU’s first 11 games, the Safety Harbor, FL struck again versus Maryland. With the Tribe trailing 2-0 in the fifth, Brieske was called on to pinch hit with one out and a runner on second. The freshman stepped into the box in the midst of a 1 for 22 slump but her second career double cut the Terps’ lead in half as FSU went on to even the game at 2-2. With the game still knotted at 2-2 in the 10th, Brieske came up with two outs and the bases loaded and proceeded to get the second walk-off hit of her career (see note below) and fourth game-winning RBI in FSU’s 26 victories. She is now tied with Lesley Palmer for the team lead in game-winning RBIs with four.
WE DARE YA TO RUN ON HER
Tallahassee native and freshman BillieAnne Gay is quietly in the midst of a fantastic defensive season behind the plate for FSU. The catcher, who starts in a battery with All-American candidate Jessica van der Linden, has started 17 of FSU’s 35 games and is throwing out nearly everyone who dares to steal on her. Of the 25 runners who have TRIED to steal on Gay, only nine have made it successfully. That means she is throwing out over 60% of would be base stealers. Overall, FSU is throwing out about half of the base runners that are attempting to steal, which is down over 20 percentage points from last year.
March may come in like a lion and leave like a lamb but for FSU softball opponents, they are still wondering about the lamb part. The Tribe was simply awesome in March posting a 14-3 record including six-game and seven-game win streaks. Florida State will try to carry that momentum into April where they went 21-5 last season. April will be a key month with four conference and 11 regional games this month. This is the time when the Tribe will have an opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the teams in the NCAA’s South Region.