ALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Jessica Warren’s name has changed. Her swing, however, is still the same.
After three years as “Jessica,” Florida State’s star third baseman is now going by “Jessie,” the name she grew up with and the one that’s still used by friends and family back home in Tampa. Then again, given the rate at which Warren hits home runs for the FSU softball team.
She mashed her 22nd of the season during the Seminoles’ 7-1 win over Georgia on Saturday – coach Lonni Alameda is probably happy to call Warren by whatever name she likes. “When I got here, everyone just started calling me ‘Warren,’ and ‘Jessica,’” she said. “And I never just thought to say ‘Hey, my name is Jessie.’”
That changed earlier this week, when an ESPN announcer asked Warren if she ever went by “Jessie.”
Why, yes, she had.
So ESPN committed to calling Warren by the name during its broadcasts, and, pretty soon, the change had made its way throughout the FSU softball program.
As of Saturday afternoon, everything from Warren’s name card at her press conference table to her biography page on Seminoles.com reflected her new name.
Or, rather, her old name.
“It’s normal for me,” Warren said with a laugh. “I guess it’ll take a couple of weeks for y’all to get used to it.”
Shelnutt the latest freshman to deliver
At least week’s ACC tournament, freshman Dani Morgan broke through by hitting 6 of 8 with two home runs, a triple and five RBIs on the way to tournament MVP honors.
It’s now apparently Anna Shelnutt’s turn to emerge.
A freshman catcher from Franklin, Ga., Shelnutt stepped into the spotlight Saturday with a pair of home runs to straightaway center field that helped spark the Seminoles’ victory over Georgia.
Shelnutt’s power surge on Saturday came on the heels of a strong effort in Friday’s win against Princeton and brought her two-day total to 4 for 6 at the plate with two home runs, a triple, a double and four RBIs.
“I wanted to make a big impact for my team,” said Shelnutt, a former high school teammate of fellow Seminole Cali Harrod. “I felt in my heart that I’d worked hard to give it to my team.”
Shelnutt started the season as an understudy to senior catcher Sydney Broderick, but a recent hand injury to Broderick opened the door for Shelnutt to expand her role.
Safe to say she’s made the most of the opportunity: Shelnutt has hits in 13 of 39 at-bats, and, with eight extra-base hits, has an .821 slugging percentage that’s second only to Warren’s .940.
“It’s truly a blessing for my coaches to let me come out here and (do) this for my team,” Shelnutt said.
Section B gives Noles a boost
The infamous Animals of Section B have taken their show on the road.
Or at least across the street.
With Florida State’s baseball team playing at Louisville this weekend, the Animals – the passionate, witty and vocal group of fans who occupy Section B for each game at Dick Howser Stadium – made their way over to JoAnne Graf Field for Saturday’s softball game.
Their presence did not go unnoticed. Not by the Seminoles, and certainly not by the Bulldogs, whose starting pitcher, Brittany Gray, had trouble finding the strike zone amidst all the noise early in the game.
Gray, who came into the game with an 18-10 record, issued four walks, hit two batters and threw just 53 of her 97 pitches for strikes.
As a result, the Seminoles steadily built a 7-0 lead and were never seriously threatened.
“Having that home-field energy here really hypes us up and keeps us going in the dugout,” Warren said.
The Animals brought a few of their favorite Howser traditions, including custom t-shirts, the “K-Time” chant and yet another rousing rendition of “O Canada” during the fifth inning.
And with so many FSU home runs – four, to be exact – there were plenty of chants for curtain calls, too, which threw off the Seminoles at first.
“The first time, yeah, I didn’t know we were supposed to go do that,” Shelnutt said with a smile. “But the second time, I made the best of it.”
The Animals first struck up a relationship with the current Seminoles last season, when they trekked over for a highly-anticipated home game against Florida.
A few weeks later, at the baseball team’s Super Regional in Gainesville, pitcher Meghan King struck up a conversation with a few members and let them know what a difference they made.
“I was just telling them how much it meant to us, just having that support,” King said. “And we kinda kept in touch … and it’s just been so, so great that they made the shirts and they committed so much.
“We definitely appreciate having them here.”