May 21, 2003 - by
Jessica Van Der Linden Named A First Team Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American

May 21, 2003

Tallahassee, FL –
The 10th-ranked Florida State softball team placed three players on the 2003 Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American team announced Wednesday night in Oklahoma City, OK. FSU’s three selections were the most All-Americans in school history in a single season. Jessica van der Linden led the way becoming just the fourth Division I 1st Team All-American in school history. The Cerritos, CA native was named to the team as a utility player and she is the second consecutive 1st Team All-American from Florida State after Brandi Stuart’s 1st Team selection in 2002. Stuart received her second consecutive All-American honor as she was named to the 2nd team making her just the fifth Seminole to ever receive All-America honors in back-to-back seasons. Junior catcher Elisa Vasquez was named to the 3rd team marking her first-ever selection to the All-America team and she is now the first catcher in FSU history to earn All-America honors.

“This is a great honor for all three players. I am very proud of all of their accomplishments,” said head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf. “Jessica earning first team honors is an unbelievable feat and was well deserved based on a wonderful season. Being named a back-to-back All-American is so difficult so the fact Brandi was honored again this year speaks to the type of player she is. We are all thrilled for Elisa who in her first year as a starter was named one of the best catchers in America.”

Van der Linden was named to the first team after never garnering All-America honors before the 2003 season. She is just the second Florida State player to ever garner All-America honors as a utility player and the third junior 1st Team All-American in school history. The Cerritos, CA native was named a top 10 finalist for USA Softball National Player of the Year honors and was also the 2003 ACC Player of the Year. The junior utility player had one of the most remarkable regular seasons in team history hitting .439, slugging .583, recording 12 doubles, four triples and 33 RBIs. She also posted an on base percentage of .571. Inside the circle, the southpaw won 12 straight decisions to end the season and had a 47-inning scoreless streak at one point. She ranked eighth in the nation in strikeouts and 24th in ERA. With her top 16 NCAA batting average, no player in DI softball had a higher batting average and lower ERA than van der Linden.

“I was so excited when I found out but even more so when I heard Brandi (Stuart) and Elisa (Vasquez) made it also,” said van der Linden. “One of my individual goals was to become an All-American and it is really fulfilling to see that become a reality. I worked really hard to reach this goal, which makes it that much sweeter. Hopefully I will be able to continue this success next year.”

This is the second consecutive All-America selection for Stuart. She is just the second player ever at FSU to garner 1st and 2nd team honors along with FSU Hall of Famer Shamalene Wilson. Stuart is the only FSU player to garner All-ACC honors four straight years and she also became the first Seminole ever to register 30 or more steals in four consecutive seasons. In 2003, she established career records for home runs, RBIs, walks, games played, games started and consecutive starts. She finished the regular season leading FSU in home runs, slugging percentage, runs scored, total bases and steals and was second on the squad in six other offensive categories.

“This is a great honor and definitely the icing on the cake to a great four years at FSU,” said Stuart. “I only expected to receive an honor like that once in my career so it is really satisfying to be named an All-America again. It is also especially sweet this year since I get to share it with two other teammates. It was a lot harder this year due to the expectations but I changed my attitude and just decided to have fun and it all worked out.”

Vasquez had a breakthrough season in 2003 after sitting behind second team all-region catcher Kimmy Carter for two seasons. She led FSU in RBIs and triples, was second on the team in batting average and third in slugging percentage. Her 14 multi-RBI games were the best on the team and she was third on the squad with 13 multi-hit games. On top of leading the team in RBIs, Vasquez was also tops on the squad with 10 game-winning RBIs. The junior didn’t only come through at the plate this season. The Hesperia, CA native finished the regular season with a .992 slugging percentage and she threw out 42% of would-be base stealers.

“I was honored and very excited when I heard the news,” said Vasquez. “I wasn’t expecting this at all. Being my first season as a full-time starter makes this honor a huge surprise especially going from one extreme to another. It is nice to know that if you work hard, people will take notice.”

With its three All-America selections in 2003, Florida State now has 22 all-time All-Americans and five Louisville Slugger/NFCA 1st team selections. Florida State is now in the top 15 all-time for 1st team All-America selections.

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