Feb. 18, 2003
FSU will meet cross-town rival FAMU for the second time in just over a week Tuesday. This will be the 80th meeting between the teams with Florida State leading the all-time series 74-5. The Seminoles have won eight straight over the Rattlerettes and 15 of the last 16 dating back to 2000. Last season FSU compiled a perfect 4-0 record over FAMU outscoring their cross-town rival 33-7 and they got off on the same foot in 2003 with a 13-2 win at the Seminole Classic.
In the last two meetings, FSU has scored 31 runs against Florida A&M. In the series finale last season, FSU 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 team’s only meeting this year, Florida A&M self-destructed as they committed five errors, uncorked four wild pitches and catcher Ruby Nugent was charged with three passed balls. Jessica van der Linden went 3-for-3 and scored three runs while allowing just one hit inside the circle in four innings of work. Brandi Stuart, Lesley Palmer and Tatiana George combined for four of Florida State’s nine hits in the five inning game.
YOU GOTTA GO WAY BACK
Senior All-American Brandi Stuart is leaving very little to chance when it comes to her legacy as the best player to ever play at Florida State. The career records should all fall this season and she will likely end up holding more career marks than any player in the 25 year history of the program. She is one of just four Seminoles to ever be named a first team NFCA All-American and is one of just two Florida State players to ever be invited to Team USA National Camp. She is on the 2003 Watch List for ASA Collegiate Player of the Year and now she is staking another claim. Stuart has started off the 2003 season on a 12 game hitting streak, which is tied for the longest in the last 10 years and is the longest in that span to begin a season. Second team All-American Serita Brooks was the latest Seminole before Stuart to have a 12-game streak and before her three players did it in 1995 (Missy Calkins, Shamalene Wilson and Kristy Hull). Stuart has hit safely in every game in 2003 and established the longest hitting streak for FSU in the new millennium. The streak almost came to an end at nine games against Iowa State. After Tatiana George reached with a single, the door was opened for Stuart to get another crack at extending the streak. The senior was down to her last strike in her last at bat of the game before a chopper down the third base line caught the ISU defense by surprise and kept the longest FSU hitting streak in three seasons alive.
IN A SUNSHINE STATE OF MIND
If anyone was worried about whether the 2003 Seminoles could hit the ball, their fears were put to rest this past weekend. At the Sunshine State Tournament, Florida State hit .394 as a team with nine players batting over .333. The Tribe scored 26 runs in four games and they slugged .500. Florida State had 23 RBIs, 52 total bases, 41 hits and 19 walks in just four games as they won the Sunshine State Tournament title. The team raised its overall batting average 47 percentage points from .252 to .299 in one weekend and hit eight doubles compared to nine in the first eight games of the year. The Tribe’s 23 RBI’s were also just three shy of the 26 the team had hit in eight games coming into the tournament and they also raised their slugging percentage 60 percentage points.
FSU’S NEXT ALL-AMERICAN
In a dominating weekend that saw FSU go 4-0 and outscore its opponents 26-6, no Seminole was more dominant than junior Jessica van der Linden. The outfielder/pitcher hit .692, scored three runs, hit two doubles, drove in five runs, had 11 total bases, slugged .846 and was on base 75% of the time. She also went 2-0 in two starts in the circle. The Cerritos, CA native led FSU in average, at bats, hits (9), doubles, RBIs, total bases and on base percentage as the Tribe won the Sunshine State Tournament. In FSU’s four games last week, van der Linden had two or more hits in three contests, she drove in at least one run in three of four games and she either doubled or drew a walk in all four games. She started the weekend off with a 2 for 4 performance versus Iowa State that included an RBI double and a five inning win in the circle where she allowed just one earned run. In the second game of the day, van der Linden had her best game of the week. Against Middle Tennessee, van der Linden went 3 for 4, scored three runs, drove in three RBIs and recorded another double. Her two RBI double in the second inning broke the game open for FSU. The Cyclones didn’t let van der Linden beat them in the next meeting as she went 1 for 2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch. In the final game of the weekend, she started inside the circle against Middle Tennessee and once again got a win as she struck out eight Lady Blue Raiders. She also went 3 for 3 with a walk and an RBI. She was also a perfect 1.000 in the field for the weekend.
Junior college transfer Lesley Palmer is continuing to grow accustomed to the Division I game. After a huge weekend at the Seminole Classic, she had another big outing at the Sunshine State Tournament. She started all four games at third and batted .571, scored two runs, had a double two RBIs, slugged 1.143, drew four walks and was on base 73% of the time. On top of all that, she blasted one of the most mammoth home runs seen at the Seminole Softball Complex in quite some time. Her first career homer at FSU came versus Middle Tennessee and not only cleared the left field fence but it landed in the far lane of the road running behind the complex and bounced over a parked SUV. The blast probably traveled more than 240 feet. The redshirt sophomore is now hitting .421, with four doubles, a home run, five RBIs, 14 walks and is slugging .789 with an .667 on base percentage.
PERECT IN 14
Sophomore hurler Casey Hunter is continuing to prove that she is ready, willing and capable of being the dominant pitcher FSU is looking for to help replace all-time great Leslie Malerich. In 14.0 innings at the Sunshine State Tournament, Hunter went 2-0, struck out 17 batters and walked just four while not allowing a single earned run all tournament. She pitched two complete games and held opposing batters to an average of just .160. Her performance this past weekend dropped her team-leading ERA to 1.07 and raised her record to 6-2. She has allowed just seven earned runs in 46 innings and she has struck out 56 batters while walking just 14 on the year.
STEALING THE DAY
2003 Collegiate Player of the Year candidate Brandi Stuart has done some amazing things in her FSU career but they way she has started the last two seasons when it comes to steals is mind boggling. The 2002 NFCA 1st Team All-American started the season 16 for 16 in steals last year and wasn’t thrown out until February 22, 15 games into the season. This year, she is 11 for 11 through 12 games. With starts like that it is no wonder she is just 25 base swipes away from passing FSU Hall of Famer Shamelene Wilson for no. 2 on the career steals list.
The 3-4-3 putout is pretty rare. It isn’t often that the first baseman throws to the second baseman who throws back to the first baseman for one out at first. Not only did the strange putout happen once for FSU it happened twice in the same game versus Middle Tennessee. On two occasions first baseman Beth Wade got her glove on a rocket shot but was unable to scoop the ball. On both occasions Brandi Stuart was there to back her up and get the runner at first for the 3-4-3 putout.