May 6, 2005 - by
FSU Softball Closes Out Regular Season In Utah Friday And Saturday

May 6, 2005

Following bus trips to Troy (Ala.) and the University of Florida on Sunday and Tuesday, the Florida State softball will travel across country on Friday and Saturday for doubleheaders against Brigham Young University and Utah. The games against the Cougars will begin at approximately 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Saturday’s contests versus the Utes are set to start at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time. Live Internet radio is available for both contests and Gametracker can be found for just the Utah game on the softball page of the website. With only four regular season game remaining and a 32-22 overall record, the Seminoles are desperate to sweep both series leading into the 14th Annual ACC Women’s Championship next week (May 12-14) in College Park, Md. The Seminoles are led by junior left fielder Natasha Jacob who hits almost 75 points better than any other member of her team. She has a team-best .347 batting average, .425 slugging percentage, and is riding a 16-game hitting streak. LaShaun Davis is second with a respectable .274 mark followed by senior third baseman Lesley Palmer’s .264 batting average. As a team, FSU hits .246 and holds teams to a .208 average. The Tribe is ranked No. 19 in the NCAA for both doubles and triples with 61 and 15 on the season. Florida State pitchers Tiffany McDonald (14-7, 1.46 ERA) and Casey Hunter (18-14, 1.60 ERA) will switch off in the circle for the Seminoles this week. The staff has struck out 429 batters this season but at the same time they have given up 199 free bases. The number of walks allowed by Florida State is one of the nations highest. Defensively, Jacob and catcher/designated player BillieAnne Gay lead the team with 1.000 and .995 fielding percentages, respectively.

Florida State vs. BYU
The Seminoles will play the Cougars during their last home games of the year at Gail Miller Field in Provo, Utah. Brigham Young enters the game with a 40-11 record on the season and sits atop the Mountain West with a 16-2 mark. In its last outing May 4, BYU swept Utah by scores of 7-2 and 4-3. The team is ranked fourth in the nation for slugging percentage at .538. Lauren Watson-Perry is ninth in the nation for runs per game and 15th for batting average, while Ashlyn Russell is ranked 9th in the nation for home runs per game. Ariel Capra leads the Cougars in hitting with a .448 average. Summer Tobias is 16-5 on the year with a 1.66 earned-run average.

Florida State vs. Utah
The Utes also wrap-up regular season play with a doubleheader against Florida State on Saturday. Utah is 18-27 on the year and Jackie Wong is enjoying a seven-game hitting streak. Diana Phillips paces the Utes with a .320 mark and the team is hitting .246. The team has two pitchers including Brianna Gourdin (2.85 ERA) who is 10-12 and Lindsie Nielsen (3.08) who is 8-12 on the season, respectively. Utah leads the series with the Seminoles 6-2 with their last meeting coming during the 1999 season.

On the Road Again…
After arriving to Tallahassee at 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night from a bus trip to Gainesville, the Florida State softball team took a four-hour plane trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, on Wednesday. The team practiced Thursday morning and then took a trip that evening to Park City, Utah–home of the 2002 Winter Olympics–to sightsee and play in the snow. The Seminoles will prepare to play BYU on Friday if the rain holds out. Local weather forecasts are predicting a 70 percent chance of thunderstorms all day tomorrow.

In Florida State’s Last Outing. . .
Florida State was nine outs from upsetting 23rd-ranked Florida Tuesday afternoon until the Seminoles literally collapsed at the Florida Softball Stadium. The Tribe came out on fire the first four innings and took the early 4-0 lead behind an outstanding pitching performance by Casey Hunter, only to give up five runs on seven hits during the fifth and sixth innings as the Gators walked away with a 7-4 victory. In the end, FSU went through its entire pitching staff, Hunter was assisted off the field due to dehydration, and the Florida Gators watched its seven-game losing streak come to an end as UF defeated the Tribe, 7-2. During the second game of the doubleheader, the Gators tacked on two early runs thanks to a home run and an FSU fielding error to beat the Seminoles, 2-0. Florida State has now loss four straight contests.

A Look Ahead
The Florida State softball team will search for its 11th conference title in 14 years next week, as the Seminoles earned the No. 2 seed at the 14th Annual ACC Women’s Softball Championship in College Park, Md., May 12-14. The Tribe will face seventh-seeded Virginia Tech on Thursday, May 12, at approximately 1:30 p.m. Georgia Tech was awarded the top seed after finishing the conference race with an 11-4 mark and received a first round bye. Florida State slightly trailed with an 11-6 record but was swept by the Yellow Jackets in head-to-head competition between the two schools. Virginia (9-8), NC State (7-7) and North Carolina (9-9) were seeded third, fourth, and fifth, respectively, and Maryland (5-9) and Virginia Tech (4-13) completed ACC play at the bottom. Last season, the Seminoles won their 10th crown after they downed Georgia Tech, 3-1.

Jacob Continues To Excel. . .
Florida State left fielder Natasha Jacob has been the one consistent person for the Seminoles this year and during the last 16 games she has really excelled offensively. Jacob is in the midst of a team and personal-best 16-game hit streak and she has a team best .347 batting average. Furthermore, she is ranked fourth in the ACC in hitting and she looks to be an ACC Player of the Year finalist.

Buckmon Returns
After a three week absence due to mono, freshman Whitney Buckmon returned to the line-up on Tuesday against the Gators and is expected to suit up for the games in Utah.

Strength of Schedule:
As with any NCAA sport, reaching post season play is a difficult process for borderline teams, but a team’s RPI and strength of schedule measurement does play an unofficial role. As of April 30, 2005, when the last reports were conducted, Florida State was ranked No. 29 in the NFCA RBI and No. 17 in the strength of schedule index. The Seminoles RPI was 0.5924 and the strength of schedule was 0.5765.

ACC Career Record Watch
Pitcher Casey Hunter needs four more victories to tie with Maryland’s Kelly Shipman’s 86 wins (96-99) for the third place spot in the all-time career victories category. Furthermore, she has a career ERA of 0.97 and needs to get it 11 points lower to move into Florida State’s Rebecaa Aase (92-94) slot as the third place person. Finally, Hunter needs to throw 56 more innings to be in fifth place with 756 career innings pitched.

FSU In The NCAA Rankings
Freshman Tiffany McDonald is ranked No. 49 in the nation with an ERA of 1.46. She and partner Casey Hunter rank No. 22 in team ERA with a 1.55 mark. Hunter is ranked No. 25 in the NCAA with three saves on the year.

Can She Do It?
With a team-high six home runs on the season, freshman Melissa Wood needs two more to tie and one to break current sophomore second baseman Veronica Wootson’s freshman home run record of eight. Wood is guaranteed at least five more games to attempt the milestone.

The Last Time
The last time the Seminoles lost more than 22 games was during the 1999 season when the squad went 40-25 and won the conference championship. However, the team was not given a bid to regionals that season despite winning the ACC.

Where Pitching Ranks
The most number of walks the pitching staff has ever allowed in FSU softball history was during the 2002 season when the Tribe gave up 210 free bases. The Seminoles currently have allowed 199 walks with at least five games remaining on the year.

Florida State’s current 1.73 earned-run average is the second highest ever for an FSU softball team. The highest ERA ever was set during the 1998 season when the Seminoles finished with a 2.16 mark. In fact, that was the only time Florida State has ever completed the season above 2.00.

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