February 25, 2005 - by
No. 21 FSU Softball Starts 10th Annual NFCA Leadoff Classic Play Friday

Feb. 25, 2005

Game Notes


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    10TH Annual NFCA Leadoff Classic

    :: Leading Off ::
    The 21st-ranked Florida State softball team (7-5) hits the road for its first away tournament of the year–the invite-only 10th Annual NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Georgia. The 24-team tournament features 11 ranked squads and three that received votes in the NFCA/USA Today national rankings on Feb. 16. Florida State is in Pool 6 with No. 13 Oklahoma (11-4), Michigan State (1-3), and Lehigh (0-0). There are six total four-team pools and after completing pool play, the Seminoles will begin bracket action Saturday night based on their performance. Live stats are available for all the games at www.seminoles.com and Internet audio broadcasts will air during the Michigan State and Oklahoma contests. Selected bracket matches will also be broadcasted via the Internet with veteran play-by-play softball announcer “Campo” calling the action. Beth Puttcamp will provide color in certain games. The NFCA Classic attracts the country’s best and if you haven’t succeeded in the NCAA Tournament, it is tough to get an invitation. Florida State finished as the runner-up last year (5-1) after playing its fifth consecutive ranked team against then-No. 12 LSU, falling 4-3. The Tribe is 18-17 all-time at the tournament and only seven college softball teams in the nation have played as many games at the NFCA Leadoff Classic as FSU.

    :: Lehigh ::

    Friday will mark Lehigh’s first game of the 2005 season. Head coach Fran Troyan has sixteen letter winners back from last season’s team that posted a 40-17-2 record, including five All-Patriot league selections and a number of other key contributors. The Mountain Hawks were picked by coaches to in the league to repeat as Patriot League champions.

    SERIES RECORD: The game will be the first meeting between the teams.

    :: Michigan State ::

    Michigan State enters the tournament with a 1-3 record and a two-game skid after dropping its final two games of the UNLV Rebel Tournament last Sunday, falling to No. 1 California, 13-0, and UNLV, 3-2. The Spartans only victory was a 9-8 victory against No. 14 Florida. Rachel Turney pitched the win and she has a 2.57 ERA. Amy Swazara paces the offense with a .375 batting average.

    SERIES RECORD: Florida State leads the all-time record 5-3. However, MSU has won the last three meetings between the two squads.

    :: Scouting Oklahoma ::

    The Sooners enters the Leadoff Classic with an 11-4 overall record. OU fell to Florida, 3-0, earlier in the season and since then the Sooners have been on a nine-game winning streak. Oklahoma swept all five games last weekend at the Nike/OU Classic and won the tournament crown. Four different pitchers have logged starts for the Sooners. Senior Kami Keiter has a 4-1 record, three shutouts and a 0.70 ERA. The Oklahoma offense has scored numerous runs in recent games, scoring at least 11 runs in four games. Oklahoma has hit 13 homeruns this season and 77 RBIs overall. However, in the four games the Sooners lost, they scored only two runs total.

    SERIES RECORD: Saturday’s contest will mark the 10th meeting. FSU leads 6-3; Last season the Seminoles defeated OU, 3-2, at the Leadoff Classic.

    :: Sunshine State Tournament Recap ::

    Florida State went 3-0 through round robin play in the first round of the 2005 Sunshine State Tournament and defeated tough South Carolina, Syracuse, and Southeastern Louisiana squads. The Seminoles were awarded with the top seed entering bracket play, and a three-way tie for the next place forced the Tribe to battle Syracuse, a team they defeated in eight innings, 5-4, the previous day. Against the Orange, a error in the fifth inning and then a homer allowed Syracuse to escape with a 2-1 victory and the Seminoles were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Syracuse went on to capture the championships. For their efforts, three Seminoles were named to the All-Tournament team. Freshman Brittany Osmon (1B), freshman Tiffany McDonald, and sophomore NFCA All-American Veronica Wootson (2B) took home the honors for the Garnet & Gold.

    :: Quick Hits ::

    • Florida State has five losses already on the season. Last year, the team did not receive their fifth loss of the season until April 17 when FSU dropped a 5-4 decision to Virginia.

    • Senior NFCA All-American pitcher Casey Hunter was 33-4 in 2004; she obtained her fourth loss of 2005 last weekend.

    • Of the Seminoles five losses on the year, FSU dropped the game by one run.

    • Freshman pitcher Tiffany McDonald is 4-0 and has thrown three shutouts, including two one-hitters.

    • The Seminoles had 10 hits in two of the last three games. In the previous nine contests, the team had just one 10+ hit game (12 – FAMU 2/9).

    • Florida State has had only two error free games in 12 outings. The first was against Nicholls State and the other one was versus South Carolina last weekend.

    :: The Leadoff Classic ::

    Florida State went 5-1 and finished as the runner-up at the prestigious invite-only tournament last season. The
    Seminoles beat Army, Texas, UW, OU, and USC before dropping a 4-3 game to LSU. The 24 teams in the tournament this season are the top among collegiate teams in the nation. Other than Pool 6, the 20 remaining schools include: Alabama, Cal State Northridge, DePaul, Florida Atlantic, Fresno State, Georgia, Georgia Tech Louisiana-Lafayette, LSU, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, North Carolina, San Diego State, Seton Hall, South Carolina, Southern Illinois, and Texas State.

    :: VRON Returns ::

    Sophomore NFCA All-American Veronica Wootson did it all as a rookie last year and became the first Seminole named an All-American her rookie campaign. Unfortunately, the sophomore hit a slump early in the season and entered the Sunshine State Tournament last weekend with a .190 batting average. However, she immediately returned from her “vacation” the first game against South Carolina and never looked back as she improved her average by over 100 points and is now No. 3 on the team with a .294 mark. For her efforts, Wootson earned all-tournament accolades after notching six hits and four RBIs in four games.

    :: Pitch-er Perfect ::

    The Tribe’s staff is getting it done in the circle and top pitchers Casey Hunter and Tiffany McDonald have combined to give up just 10 earned runs in 2005. McDonald allowed three and Hunter had seven. In four years, Hunter has yet to ever allow an triple and she and McDonald have honored that this season. Opponents are batting just .152 against the pair and they have combined to strikeout 96 batters. Hunter has shutout 64 of them.

    :: Ooops…Brittany Keeps Doing It Again ::

    FSU freshman first baseman Brittany Osmon, though just 12
    performances into her collegiate career, has had a tremendous start this season. The native of San Diego, Calif., leads the conference in triples along with teammate Natasha Jacob, and she and Jacob paces the Seminoles with a .500 slugging percentage. Furthermore, Osmon and Veronica Wootson guide FSU with a team-best eight RBIs and she’s had a team-best 63 putouts and 7 assists. Osmon has logged three doubles, two triples and 15 total bases. She already earned all-tournament honors at the Sunshine State Tournament and it’s only a matter of time until the nation starts to take a look at the level-headed, energetic infielder.

    :: Consistent Jacob ::

    Left fielder Natasha Jacob, a 2004 All-Southeast Region team member, has been the main leader on the field for the Seminoles this year on both sides of the ball. The junior is the only starter with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage and she paces the team with a .361 batting average. Jacob also has the most hits (13) for FSU and she is ranked eighth in the ACC in hitting, sixth in hits, fifth in stolen bases (tied with teammate Whitney Buckmon), sixth in walks, fourth in on base percentage, and seventh in slugging percentage.

    :: Double Trouble Palmer ::

    Senior third baseman Lesley Palmer has a team-high five doubles on the season and she is tied for second with UNC’s Jaclyn Hohlden in the league. Unfortunately, Palmer has not managed to connect on a double in the last three contests, so it’s only a matter of time until the Dale City, Va., native records another double bag hit.

    :: No Homers Yet ::

    Florida State has yet to hit a homerun this season. The Seminole Softball Complex has a deep field and a tall wall, so it’s much harder to hit it out of the park in a complex like FSU boasts. So, once the Tribe reaches a playing field that allows less playing room, one can expect someone on the team to connect with a long bomb at anytime. Who will be the first?

    :: The Polls ::

    Florida State started out the season ranked No. 10 in the USA Today/NFCA national rankings and fell to No. 18 last week before settling in at No. 21 Monday.

    :: Record Chasers ::

    With 13 home runs her in her career, Lesley Palmer is already listed as No. 13 all-time in the ACC. She is trailing NC State’s Jennifer Chamberlin by three homers and Virginia’s Sara Larquier by seven, respectively. Meanwhile, Casey Hunter’s career 0.78 ERA sits in second place behind Toni Gutierrez, a former FSU standout. Hunter has already established herself as one of the league’s all-time greats and she’ll need to drop to less thank 0.46 to surpass Gutierrez. Furthermore, Hunter has 619 victories to her credit and needs five more to catch up with former Seminole Kristy Fuentes, who had 72, respectively. Finally, Hunter has recorded 619 career strikeouts and needs 47 more to pass up UNC’s Radara McHugh (98-01).

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