Feb. 17, 2005
Tallahassee, FL – After an impressive series win over Auburn last week, the 11th-ranked Florida State baseball team gets back to work this Friday as they welcome in St. Joe’s for a three-game series. The Hawks (0-3) were swept opening weekend by VCU being outscored 34-7. The Seminoles, on the other hand, are off to an 8-1 start and finished last week with more wins than any team in the nation.
“We are ahead of St. Joe’s at this point because they haven’t had a chance to play but three games,” said FSU head coach Mike Martin. “Their practice time has not been very good due to where they live but they will come in and give us a very good test.”
“The thing about baseball is that you play the game, you don’t play the opposition,” said associate head coach Jamey Shouppe. “We can’t worry about St. Joe’s because we are playing to try and get better. We are not a good enough team to worry about the competition. St. Joe’s has struggled so far this year but you still have to play the game of baseball.”
After taking two of three versus Auburn, the Seminoles will need to maintain their focus versus a St. Joe’s squad that they may overlook with a road trip to Stetson and Hawaii on the horizon. Martin does not think that will be a problem for this group.
“I think the youth of this team will make them hungrier this weekend,” said Martin. “They don’t look at St. Joe’s as behind them. They look at this as a series in which they have a chance to get better and continue to improve. When you have a veteran club, they would look at St. Joe’s as a team that isn’t the caliber of Auburn. Not this group. I expect them to come out and play hard and hopefully very well this weekend.”
“We are all just excited to play whoever the team is,” said third baseman Bryan Henry. “Getting a chance to come out and play is exciting. Coaches are keeping everybody’s heads on straight. We have a long way to go and we have a lot of things we need to work on. Playing games is an opportunity to get better and we are going to take advantage of that.”
Henry is currently second on the team with eight RBIs and the squad will open the St. Joe’s series with a team batting average of .307. The Seminoles hit .302 as a team last weekend and have now hit over .300 as a group in each of the first three series. More importantly the team is hitting well in clutch situations where they have a .304 average with runners in scoring position.
“Everybody wants to put themselves in the situation when we need a big hit,” said Henry. “We all want to come through for the team. There are no stars on this team. We all just want to help each other. We have confidence in the guys in front and behind us. We are not just counting on one player. That is a great thing.”
The Seminole staff passed its first big test of the season against Auburn last week as well. The staff came through with clutch pitching performances from both starters and relievers. Florida State pitchers held Auburn’s first two batters, one of which is preseason third team All-American Clete Thomas, to a .241 average and the staff struck out 23 batters while lowering the walks they issued for the third straight series.
“I feel good about everybody on our staff except for Sauls who is obviously injured,” said Shouppe. “Brian Schultz is still not pitching like himself but Hunter Jones is close to pitching the way he is capable of pitching. I like the way the staff is shaping up. We will get a good idea over the next 10 days when we play eight games. This part of the season is perfect for us”
Florida State has yet to play on the road but that will change Tuesday at Stetson. The game with St. Joe’s marks the first of eight games over the next 10 days. It will be a test for a young Seminole club that has played only weekend series through the first month of the year.
“It is going to be a fun time coming up for these young men,” said Martin. “They are going to be able to play a lot of baseball. At the same time they will only miss a day and a half of school. It is also preparing them for the rest of the year because our schedule sets up to be one of the best we have had since I have coached here at FSU. We do not have a week, other than after Hawaii, when we don’t play a mid-week game up until final exams.”
After starting things of Friday at 3:30, the three-game series with the Hawks continues Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and will conclude Sunday with an earlier start at 12:30 p.m. All three games will be available via Game Tracker. Fans in Tallahassee can listen to the game on WFLA 1270. Every game this season will also be available via an exclusive Internet radio broadcast as well available only at the official athletic website for Florida State seminoles.com.