February 7, 2003 - by
GAMEDAY CENTRAL: No. 9 FSU Softball Opens Seminole Classic Play Friday

Feb. 7, 2003

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Florida State will host the first of four tournaments at the Seminole Softball Complex this weekend. The five team Seminole Classic tournament includes the Florida A&M Rattlerettes, Georgia Bulldogs, Oregon Ducks and SE Louisiana Lions, along with tournament host Florida State. The Tribe opens play Friday at 4:00 p.m. versus the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks and Seminoles have faced off in four games over the years with both teams coming away with two victories at neutral sites. The last meeting between the teams dates back to 1998 when the Ducks defeated the Seminoles 2-0. Oregon currently holds a two game winning streak over Florida State. The last win for the Tribe came in 1996 when the Seminoles defeated the Ducks 1-0. This will be the first meeting for both teams in Tallahassee.


FSU will meet cross-town rival FAMU in their second game of the Seminole Classic. This will be the 79th meeting between the teams with Florida State leading the all-time series 73-5. The Seminoles have won seven straight over the Rattlerettes and 14 of the last 15 dating back to 2000. Last season Florida State compiled a perfect 4-0 record over FAMU outscoring their cross-town rival 33-7. The Seminoles have won 38 of 40 games from FAMU at the friendly confines of the Seminole Softball Complex.

In the series finale last season, the Seminoles defeated FAMU 18-3 marking the most runs scored by a Florida State team in school history. The Tribe scored in every inning of the five inning game while putting a 10 spot on the scoreboard in the third inning. The Seminoles also pounded out a season-high 16 hits, with three going for extra bases. FSU also set season-highs in RBIs and total bases with 14 and 22 respectively in the 15 run victory.

Against FAMU last season, the Seminoles were led by Brandi Stuart who hit .444 (4-for-9) with a triple and a homerun. Stuart scored seven runs, drove in five, drew four walks and was a perfect 4-for-4 in the stolen base category. Beth Wade accumulated a .417 batting average against the Rattlerettes last year, driving in two runs, scoring a run and drawing a base-on-balls. Shortstop Tatiana George followed suit going 5-for-14 (.357) in four games last year. George hit a double, scored three runs and had five RBI’s. In the circle, Jessica van der Linden pitched three innings in the 18-3 victory over the Rattlerettes allowing no runs on only one hit and striking out two batters. In two relief appearances, Casey Hunter pitched five innings allowing three runs on three hits, while striking out six.


In their lone meeting a year ago at the Seminole Classic, Georgia defeated Florida State 3-2 behind a dominant pitching performance from Lacey Gardner. Gardner threw a complete game two-hitter, while striking out seven batters. The Seminoles were led by Jessica van der Linden who went 1-for-2 with a double and a run scored. Sophomore Casey Hunter pitched an inning in relief for the Tribe allowing no runs on no hits and striking out one Bulldog batter. Florida State leads the all-time series over Georgia 3-2 with their last victory coming in Athens back in 1999 when the Seminoles defeated the Bulldogs 6-0.

The final game for the Tribe in the Seminole Classic will be against SE Louisiana. This will be the first ever meeting between the Seminoles and the Lions.


Through four games this season, the Seminoles have shown their speed on the bases averaging 3.5 stolen bases a game. They have swiped 14 of 15 bases so far this year and although very early they are currently on pace to break the team record of 160 stolen bases set back in 1996. That year the Tribe averaged 2.2 stolen bases a game. Brandi Stuart leads the way for Florida State in the stolen base category going a perfect 5-for-5.


You know the slogan the early bird catches the worm. Well the same applies to Florida State and scoring runs in the first and third innings. Last season Florida State did most of its damage in the early innings outscoring its opponents 71-9 in the third inning and 54-28 in the first inning. This season the Tribe is off to the same start. Against Auburn and Georgia Southern, the Seminoles outscored the Tigers and Eagles 6-0 and 3-0 in the third and first innings, respectively.


Tuesday was a day of firsts for freshman Carly Brieske. The Safety Harbor, FL native got her first collegiate at-bat in the first game of the doubleheader against Auburn and came through with an RBI double. She then made a huge statement in game two versus the Tigers as she started in right field for her first time in her FSU career. Brieske drove in all three runs and helped the Seminoles come from behind in the 10th inning to down Auburn 3-2. In the second inning, after third baseman Lesley Palmer doubled to right center and was sacrificed to third by Beth Wade, Brieske hit a sac-fly to right field to score Palmer and give Florida State the early lead. Then in the tenth with runners on first and second and the Seminoles down 2-1, Brieske sent Tiger pitcher Kristen Keyes delivery to right center driving in two more runs and giving Florida State the extra inning, come from behind victory. With her three RBI night against Auburn, Brieske is now the clubhouse leader with four RBIs on the season.


Jessica van der Linden’s double in game one versus the Auburn Tigers was the first extra base hit of the season for the Seminoles. In Florida State’s opening day doubleheader at Georgia Southern, the Seminoles banged out 11 hits, which were all singles. Against Auburn, the Tribe accumulated 14 hits with five of those going for extra bases.


Jessica van der Linden has been strong in the circle for the Seminoles in two games despite a 0-1 record to start the season. Van der Linden has pitched in 14.2 innings while giving up only two earned runs and has allowed eight hits in holding opponents to a .151 batting average. But what’s most impressive are her 18 strikeouts compared to only one walk and a team leading ERA of 0.95. In the two games that she has pitched, the Seminoles have scored only two runs and manufactured only seven hits, while stranding 24 runners on base.


Sophomore Casey Hunter has gotten off to wonderful start for Florida State accounting for all three victories for the Seminoles so far this season. She has seen action in 15 innings of work giving up only three earned runs. Hunter has held opponents to a batting average of .189, while compiling a team-high 22 strikeouts. After allowing two hits to the Auburn Tigers in the first inning of the twin bill, Hunter settled down and didn’t give up another hit in shutting out the Tigers, 8-0. The shut out was the first of Hunter’s FSU career. In the second game against Auburn, Hunter came in relief of starter Jessica van der Linden to pick up her second victory of the night. She pitched two strong innings allowing just one run and striking out four Auburn batters


Last season Florida State’s season high for doubles in a game was three and the Tribe did that on two occasions. It took FSU all of three games to beat that mark this year. Last year’s team played 75 games but in just the third game of the 2003 season, Seminole batters launched four doubles against Auburn and broke the 2002 single game mark.


The Seminoles have come through in the clutch so far this season with runners in scoring position and runners on third with less than two outs. Florida State has 12 hits with runners in scoring position and is hitting .538 (7-for-13) with a runner on third and less than two outs. Junior Elisa Vasquez leads the team hitting .429 with runners in scoring position and has driven in three runs with two-outs. Freshman Carly Brieske also leads the team hitting .667 with runners in scoring position as well as recording two RBIs in two opportunities with runners on third and less than two outs. Florida State is hitting the ball better when the bases are covered in garnet and gold hitting .278 compared to .192 with the bases empty.


A lot is going to be expected of sophomore Casey Hunter in 2003 and the Illinois native didn’t disappoint in her first outing of the year. Hunter, who made the first opening day start of her career, justified her coach’s faith by dominating Georgia Southern. The pitcher set a new career-high with 13 strikeouts and she didn’t allow a run through the first five innings of the game. She also issued just one walk as she improved her lifetime record to 5-0.


NFCA 1st Team All-American Brandi Stuart continued to do exactly what she has done her whole career opening day. The senior may have registered just two hits but her .333 batting average was the second-best on the team. Against the Eagles she scored more than a third (3) of FSU’s runs in the doubleheader, she had an RBI, drew two walks and went a perfect 4-for-4 in steals.


Just like Brandi Stuart, junior Jessica van der Linden seems to be picking up right where she left off in 2002. The junior has been her usual self at the plate and inside the circle as she leads the team in average (.667), hits (4), slugging percentage (.833), walks (7) and on base percentage (.857). In the circle, van der Linden was the hard luck loser in FSU’s second game of the GSU twin bill and got a no decision versus Auburn despite allowing just one run. Her 0.95 ERA leads the team, she has allowed just eight hits, two earned runs and has a strikeout to walk ratio of 18 to 1. She is also holding opposing batters to a .151 average.


Senior Brandi Stuart and junior Jessica van der Linden, former Cerritos High teammates, both had monster seasons for FSU in 2002 and have picked up where they left off in 2003. Last season the two combined to hit .363 and slug .553. Together they accounted for 153 hits, 23 doubles, 12 triples, 11 home runs, 80 RBIs, 233 total bases and 86 walks. No tandem in FSU history has ever combined for more total bases, walks, and slugged for a higher percentage than Stuart and van der Linden did in 2002. So far this season Stuart and van der Linden have combined to hit .444 and slug .555. They are tied for the team lead in hits with four a piece, while accumulating almost 33 percent of the total bases tallied this season. Together they have also drawn 11 walks, with van der Linden collecting seven and Stuart with four. Only one pair of players has ever scored more combined runs, only one pair of players has ever accounted for more doubles and only one pair of players has ever hit more home runs. On top of that only two pair of FSU players in the program’s 24-year history has ever combined for more RBIs than Stuart and van der Linden.


Junior Elisa Vasquez has waited patiently for her opportunity to step into FSU’s starting line-up as she sat behind All-Region catcher Kimmy Carter and this year she is getting that chance. While Vasquez will be expected to be solid defensively and help with a young pitching staff, nobody is expecting her to replace Carter’s career 136 RBIs and 54 from last seasons (both are FSU records). Not only was the Hesperia, CA stellar behind the plate, including picking off a runner and throwing out a would-be base stealer, she has knocked in three RBIs which is second on the team. If Vasquez can continue to knock in runs at that pace, the loss of Carter won’t seem nearly as tough to overcome.


While van der Linden was her average and spectacular self at the plate and in the circle, there was one area that the junior was anything but normal and that was on the base paths. Coming into the 2003 season, van der Linden had stolen just two bases in her career and attempted to swipe just five. Last season she went 0-for-2 in steal attempts. Saturday she matched her career total for steals as she went 2-for-2 against Georgia Southern. Overall, FSU went a perfect 12-for-12 in steal attempts in the doubleheader versus GSU.


Both Jessica van der Linden and Casey Hunter had strong outings opening day. In more than 13 innings, the two allowed just nine hits and one walk while combining to fan 21 batters. The Eagles hit just .205 against the two but even more impressive was how the pair handled lefties. Hunter and van der Linden held GSU lefties hitless in five tries.


No. 9 Florida State received four out of five first place votes and locked up the No. 1 spot in the ACC preseason poll. Defending conference champion Georgia Tech received the other first place vote and came in second with 18 points, six behind FSU’s 24. North Carolina was the only other school to record double-digit points as they finished third with 14. Virginia was tabbed fourth and Maryland fifth

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