May 8, 2003 - by
No. 10 FSU Softball Opens ACC Tournament Play Friday Night

May 8, 2003

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No. 12 FSU 4	Georgia Tech 0
No. 12 FSU 6	Georgia Tech 0

ACC Tournament Website

? FSU has played in every ACC championship game except for 2002
? The Seminoles are looking to win the ACC for the first time since 2000 when they defeated Virginia for the third straight year in the championship game
? The Tribe has won seven of the eleven ACC tournament championships, tied with Maryland in 1997 for the crown and was the runner-up in 1994 to Virginia and in 2001 to North Carolina
? Florida State is entering the ACC tournament undefeated in conference play for the fourth time in tournament history
? The Seminoles overall ACC tournament record is a conference best 31-8
? Five of FSU’s seven titles have come in the team’s third game of the tournament and two have come in the fifth game
? FSU has never lost an opening game at the ACC tournament
? FSU has never been lower than a #2 seed in the ACC tournament with a record of 13-1 as the #2 seed and a record of 18-7 as a #1 seed
? Florida State has won five of its seven titles versus Virginia and the only team FSU has never defeated for the ACC crown is Maryland
? Florida State is undefeated against Maryland in the ACC Tournament
? In 2002, Leslie Malerich improved the Seminoles’ streak of consecutive opening game tournament victories to 11
? Florida State is the only team to outscore their opponents in tournament play (144-55)
? FSU holds the all-time record for most runs scored in a tournament game with 12 and most runs in one inning with seven, both versus Georgia Tech in 1993
? In the 1993 ACC tournament the Tribe scored the most runs crossing the plate 29 times in four games
? Florida State’s 19 base hits and 10 RBIs versus Virginia in 1992 are both all-time tournament-highs
? In the 1992 ACC tournament, the Seminoles posted a tournament-high 21 RBIs
? Florida State recorded the most triples (3) in ACC tournament play twice in 1992 and again in 2002
? FSU has seven tournament MVPs and one co-MVP in 1997
? The 51 Seminoles on the All-Tournament Team is the most by any school
? FSU had seven players named to the All-Tournament Team in 1992 and in 1995 which is the most by a single team in a single tournament
? Florida State holds six of the 11 individual tournament records
? Three Seminole batters have tied for the most base hits (9) in ACC tournament play (Susan Buttery, 1992; Serita Brooks, 2000; Staci Brandon, 2000)
? In 1992, Susan Buttery put up the ACC tournament record for most triples (2) and runs scored (8)
? Penny Siquieros holds the record for most RBIs (6), which came in the 1992 ACC tournament
? In 2002, Brandi Stuart was walked a tournament-high eight times
? Florida State holds a top spot in nine of 12 individual single game statistical categories highlighted by Leslie Barton’s four runs scored in 1993
? Susan Buttery’s four RBIs in 1992 versus UNC is an ACC tournament single-game record
? Myssi Calkins joins Barton and Buttery with a single-game record for most stolen bases (3) versus UNC in 1997
? On the mound, Rebecca Aase pitched the only no-hitter ever thrown by a single pitcher in the ACC tournament with a 6-0 victory over Georgia Tech in 1992
? Jessica van der Linden and Brandi Stuart were both named to the 2002 All-Tournament Team
? Jessica van der Linden was the only player to get a hit in all three of the tournament games in 2002

On top of being the No. 1 seed and coming into this weekend’s ACC Tournament at 8-0 in the conference, FSU has to be considered the tourney favorite due to its eight titles in 11 years. If you were going to make a prediction on when FSU would win the title and against whom it would come the smart pick is against Virginia in FSU’s third game of the tournament. The Seminoles have met Virginia three times in its third game and won all three and all three wins were FSU titles. Overall, FSU has won five ACC Championships in its third game of the tourney. If you want to stop FSU, you got to get to them in the second game where the Seminoles are just 6-5. Of the five times FSU has lost its second game of ACC’s, they have only gone on to win the championship twice (1992 and 2000).

Since Florida State has never gone 8-0 in the ACC before, this year’s conference tournament will present an interesting scenario for FSU. Even if the team falls into the loser’s bracket, the Tribe will have to beat one team and maybe even two ACC teams three times in a row if you include the regular season sweep. First up will be the winner of the Maryland/Virginia game. Florida State has swept the season series and won an ACC Tournament game against Maryland on four occasions and is a perfect 4-0 in that scenario. FSU has swept Virginia eight times in the regular season but the teams have only met once in the tourney after a Seminole sweep and FSU won that game in 1999. If the Tribe wins that game, they have had a rougher time historically against either North Carolina or Georgia Tech. After sweeping the season series and an ACC tournament game six times against the Yellow Jackets the streak ended in 2002. FSU swept Georgia Tech in the regular season but lost in the ACC Tournament. Against UNC, FSU has swept the season series and won a tournament game just twice (1995 and 1997). The last two years (2001 and 2002) FSU swept the Heels and lost to North Carolina in the ACC Championships. Overall, FSU is 13-3 (.812) all time in the ACC Tournament against teams they swept during the regular season. If you want to know why FSU has won eight titles you need to just look at the Tribe’s 14-3 record in the third, fourth and fifth games of the ACC tourney.

With Florida State’s fourth straight conference sweep last weekend over Georgia Tech, not only did the team solidify its No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament but they wrapped-up their 7th ACC regular season title in 12 years. This is the third consecutive regular season conference title for Florida State. Even more impressive, the Tribe became the first ACC team to ever go 8-0 in conference play. As dominant as FSU has been in the ACC, the Seminoles have never gone 8-0 before this season. Last year FSU was 6-0 but had its twin bill versus Maryland cancelled due to weather related field problems. This is the first time in team history that the Seminoles have posted back-to-back undefeated ACC campaigns and FSU has now won 20 consecutive ACC regular season games and 28 games in a row against ACC teams. The closest the Tribe came to running the ACC table in an eight game season was in 2001 and 1997 when the team posted 7-1 records. Florida State did post undefeated seasons in 1995 (6-0) and 1993 (4-0).

With FSU’s sweep of defending ACC Champion Georgia Tech, the Tribe now has the longest win streak in Division I softball this year with 24 consecutive victories. The longest win streak this season belonged to UCLA who won 24 straight games from February 1 to March 8 and ended with a 1-0 loss to DePaul. Florida State has now tied the Bruins. During FSU’s current streak, the third longest in school history, the Tribe has won four extra inning games, run-ruled four opponents, has pitched a shutout in 15 of the 24 games and outscored its opponents 131-16. Combined with North Carolina’s 15 game win streak earlier this year, FSU and UNC have combined for a 39 game win streak second only to the Pac 10 duo of UCLA and Arizona, which combined to win 41.

Longest Win Streaks in 2003

Florida State		24
UCLA			24
DePaul			21
Notre Dame		20
Oklahoma		18
Louisana-Lafayette	18
Arizona			17
Bold/italic = current streak

Shortstop Tatiana George is one of the true feel-good stories for FSU in 2003. The Fontana, CA native was thrust into the role of starting shortstop for a top 20 team as a freshman in 2002. While she had a solid season she struggled like any rookie would at times. Just as she was starting to roll offensively, she was injured on a cleats-up slide into second. She also had her problems with a difficult FSU infield and ended the year with a .893 fielding percentage. Things have really changed in 2003. In 58 less at bats, she is hitting 61 percentage points higher than her freshman year (.242 to .303), has already equaled her doubles and triples from last season, has three more RBIs (20 to 23), is slugging 67 points higher (.329 to .396), has nine more walks, 24 fewer strikeouts and is fielding 42 points better also (.893 to .935). Her improvement was punctuated by her first ever ACC Player of the Week award after the Georgia Tech series. The shortstop came into the season finale with two home runs in 352 career at bats but she equaled that number in just four at bats versus the Yellow Jackets. The sophomore led the Seminoles sweep of the defending ACC Champion, as FSU became the first Atlantic Coast Conference school to ever go 8-0. George led FSU in runs scored (3), home runs (2), RBIs (3), slugging percentage (2.000), walks (2) and on base percentage (.667).

Florida State continues to stack up favorably against the nation’s top programs statistically speaking. In the latest (5/4/03) NCAA stats, only No. 2 UCLA ranks higher than FSU in winning percentage, batting average, ERA, fielding and scoring in Division I softball this year. While FSU has appeared on five of those lists all season, this is the first time the Tribe has ranked in the top 30 this year for fielding (28th). The Seminole staff is continuing to dominate as they now rank fourth in the NCAA with a 0.81 ERA. Florida State isn’t only doing it in the circle. The Tribe is among the nation’s best at the plate also. FSU is currently 20th in DI softball in batting average and scoring. The only team in America with a lower ERA and better offense (runs scored and batting average) than FSU is UCLA. The Tribe is holding it’s own individually also. Most impressively, sophomore Casey Hunter is third in the nation with a 0.62 ERA and she is joined by Jessica van der Linden who ranks 24th. FSU is the only team in the nation to have two pitchers in the Top 25 in ERA. That isn’t the only place the Seminole hurlers show up either. Hunter is 12th in DI softball with her .833 winning percentage and van der Linden ranks eighth with 9.9 strikeouts per seven innings. Van der Linden is also amongst the nation’s best hitters as she is 16th with a .439 batting average. No player in Division I softball has a higher batting average and lower ERA than van der Linden. All-American Brandi Stuart is up with the best base stealers in America as she ranks seventh in DI softball.

Catcher Elisa Vasquez is in the midst of a breakout season. The Hesperia, CA native has been red hot at the plate and is producing RBIs at a record setting pace. In her last 18 games, she has driven in 23 of 41 RBIs and raised her batting average from .305 to .353. She has recorded an RBI in 7 of her last 8 games and has a total of 13 in those eight contests. For a player that has hit above .300 just once in her career entering 2003, she has kept her average above .300 for the last 25 games and in now second on the team in average. In her first two seasons at FSU, Vasquez was a .233 lifetime hitter with 23 RBIs, four doubles, one triple, 17 runs and a slugging percentage of .262. This season she is hitting .353 (220 points higher), has 18 more RBIs (41), three more doubles (7), three more triples (4), has hit the first three homers of her career, 12 more runs scored (29) and is slugging 263 points higher (.525).

Florida State sophomore Casey Hunter had one of the greatest performances by any Seminole in the ACC this season. With a record of 5-0 her performance stands as one of the all-time bests in team history and she joins Kristy Fuentes as the only other FSU pitcher to go 5-0 during the ACC regular season. Although Fuentes appeared in two more games than Hunter back in 1997, both have pretty comparable numbers. Hunter pitched in 28.2 innings allowing one earned run on 17 hits. She struck out 24 batters, while walking only six (4:1 K/BB ratio) en route to holding batters to a .179 batting average. Fuentes, a 3rd team All-American in 1997, pitched in 40.2 innings allowing four earned runs on 24 hits. She struck out 36 batters, while walking nine (4:1 K/BB ratio) holding batters to a .169 batting average.

The tandem of Casey Hunter and Jessica van der Linden has compiled the lowest regular season conference ERA of any pair of Seminole pitchers in Florida State history. The pair finished the regular season with a 0.37 ERA allowing only three earned runs over 57 innings of work. They combined to strike out 63 batters, while walking only 13. They each allowed two extra base hits and held opposing conference batters to a .164 batting average. The only other duo to come close to these numbers was the 1997 pair of Kristy Fuentes and Stacy Venable. Both Fuentes and Venable went a combined 7-1 with a respectable 0.52 ERA. They held opponents to a .158 batting average in the conference. Together they accumulated 48 strikeouts and allowed 18 base-on-balls.

When the 2003 season began FSU was ranked No. 9 in the preseason poll and it was just the third time ever the Seminoles started a season in the Top 10. By the middle of March, the Tribe had slipped to No. 17 in both the Softball poll and the NFCA/USA Today poll. Since then the Tribe has won 24 straight games and they have been steadily climbing back up the national polls. After tying the nation’s longest winning streak, Florida State found itself back in the top 10 this week in both polls. This is the highest FSU has been ranked heading into the conference tournament in a decade. Only four teams in the top 10 have fewer losses than FSU’s nine and only one team ahead of FSU is from the south (Georgia).

Although the Seminoles may not carry their win streak into the 2004 season, there is one run that FSU will look to extend next year. With its sweep over Georgia Tech, Florida State has now won 20 straight ACC regular season games. The last time the Tribe lost a conference game was 2001 at the hands of Georgia Tech. Those 20 straight wins are more ACC victories than Tech’s Kate Madden (13) and Virginia’s Cheryl Sprangel have in their careers.

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