April 2, 2004 - by
No. 4 Softball Opens ACC Play At Home Saturday With No. 23 Georgia Tech

April 2, 2004

April 2, 2004

Weekly Release In PDF

Hey Little Leaguers, join the Seminole Softball team on Saturday, April 3rd for Softball Little League Day at the Seminole Softball Complex. The Tribe will be facing No. 23 Georgia Tech to open ACC play. All teams with 10 or more players in attendance will be entered into a drawing to win a free pizza party with the Seminole Softball Team. Remember to wear your jerseys! As always admissions is FREE!!! For more information please call 850-645-4851, e-mail promotions@garnet.acns.fsu.edu.

Help No. 4 FSU softball open ACC play the right way Saturday as the 23rd-ranked Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech come to town. As part of the University’s Relay for Life program the Seminoles will help raise money at the double header as they do their part to Strikeout Cancer. Pledge sheets will be available at the game and fans can tie thier pledges to the amount of strikeouts FSU pitchers total in each game. For more information visit the marketing table at the Seminole Softball Complex.

Florida State and Georgia Tech aren’t waiting long to settle who the ACC’s top dog is or is going to be. The conference’s only two ranked squads and the last two ACC Tournament Champions, open conference play versus one another this Saturday. FSU holds a commanding 31-6 lead in the series but after a 16-0 start, the Tribe is 15-6 versus the Jackets since 1996 and just 8-5 since 2000. Outside of FSU, no other ACC team has been as successful in the NCAA Tournament as the Jackets over the last three years and the two squads met just two years ago in a regional final for the right to go to the College World Series.

This will be the 10th time in the last 13 years that FSU has opened ACC play versus the Jackets. Florida State is 14-4 versus GT in ACC openers but since 2000 FSU holds a slim edge at 5-3 when the teams open conference play versus one another. The last time FSU lost a conference game was in 2001 at the hands of the Yellow Jackets. Since the 2-1 defeat, FSU has reeled off 26 straight conference wins. The Yellow Jackets are also the last ACC team to sweep a conference twin bill from FSU and that happened in 2000 when they came to Tallahassee and took two from the Tribe by scores of 2-1 and 8-2. After starting ACC play with a 14-1 record in openers between 1992 and 1999, the Seminoles are 5-3 in ACC openers since 2000.

?	Six ACC titles won when starting 2-0
?	One ACC title won when starting 1-0
?	One ACC title won when starting 1-1
?	One ACC title won when starting 0-2
?	Outscored opponents in ACC openers 131-42
?	Outscored Georgia Tech 106-35 in ACC openers

Year Record ACC Tourney Finish 1992 1-0 (ACC Champs) 1993 2-0 (ACC Champs) 1994 2-0 (ACC Runner-up) 1995 2-0 (ACC Champs) 1996 1-1 (ACC Champs) 1997 2-0 (ACC Champs - tie) 1998 2-0 (ACC Champs) 1999 2-0 (ACC Champs) 2000 0-2 (ACC Champs) 2001 1-1 (ACC Runner-up) 2002 2-0 (ACC Quarterfinalists) 2003 2-0 (ACC Champs)

Georgia Tech comes into this weekend’s ACC opener red hot. The Jackets had won 13 of 15 games entering Wednesday’s twin bill with No. 5 Georgia. Tech has already knocked off some of the nation’s top schools with wins over No. 7 Louisiana-Lafayette (4-1), No. 14 Fresno State (9-1), No. 20 Nebraska (1-0) and DePaul (5-1) . Georgia Tech also lost a close decision to unanimous No. 1 Arizona (2-0). Entering the UGA doubleheader, GT has averaged over six runs per game and allowed just 0.61 during its 13-2 run. Senior shortstop Tara Knudsen leads the Atlantic Coast Conference with a .434 average, nine home runs and 35 runs batted in. The 2002 All-American is hitting .587, with three home runs over her last nine ballgames. Jessica Sallinger continues to be the Jackets’ ace in the circle. The junior is 19-4 with a 0.40 ERA. But the entire staff has been tearing it up this season with a school record 19 shutouts and a combined ERA of 0.76.

Neither Georgia Tech’s or Florida State’s big guns have had a lot of success in this series over the past three years. Tech ace Jessica Sallinger is 2-5 with a 3.48 ERA all-time against the Seminoles. In 32.2 innings she has allowed 32 hits, 23 runs and 16 earned runs. Sallinger has walked 27 batters and fanned 43. The Yellow Jackets’ No. 2 is Erin Voeltz had a great start to her career versus FSU as she went 1-0 with a 0.88 ERA, six K’s and no walks when she faced the Seminoles as a freshman in 2001. Since then, the senior is 0-2 with a 4.41 ERA. In 11.1 innings she has allowed eight runs seven of which were earned. All-American candidate Tara Knudsen had a great start to her career against FSU. In her freshman and sophomore campaigns, the slugging shortstop hit .333 with six runs, two doubles, two homers and four RBIs. Last year her numbers fell off and she went just 2 for 10 with six strikeouts. The senior appears to be hitting a lot more like she did in 2001 and 2002 this season so that could spell a return to form versus FSU as well.

The Yellow Jackets have done very well in containing first team All-American Jessica van der Linden throughout her career. The senior is hitting .270 lifetime against Yellow Jacket pitchers and she has just four RBIs all-time in the series. The good news for FSU fans is that her numbers jump considerably in games played at home. In Tallahassee, van der Linden has hit .368 with a double, triple, three RBIs and three runs scored. She also has just one K in 19 at bats versus Georgia Tech at the Seminole Softball Complex. On the hill, van der Linden is 3-2 all-time with a 1.81 ERA but her numbers have gotten better every season. Last year the All-American was 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA. She allowed just two earned runs and fanned 20 batters while issuing just one walk. Casey Hunter has enjoyed plenty of success versus Georgia Tech. The junior has not allowed a run to Georgia Tech in her career and given up just six hits in 10 innings. At the plate, Elisa Vasquez has had a good career against Georgia Tech with a .316 lifetime average. The senior slugger has a run scored and three RBIs in her nine meetings with GT.

30-30-30-30 CLUB
If consistency is the hallmark of greatness, then it is no wonder that Jessica van der Linden and Brandi Stuart are considered two of the greatest players to ever wear Garnet & Gold. When van der Linden hit her first ever grand slam versus FIU she broke the 30 RBI mark for the fourth straight season. van der Linden now joins Stuart as the only two Seminoles to ever collect 30 or more RBIs all four years at FSU. In fact only one player has ever even recorded four straight 20-RBI seasons (Kimmy Carter 1999-2002). van der Linden has already climbed into second place all alone for career RBIs and she is just 11 away from wrestling the all-time record away from Stuart. With 141 career RBIs to her credit van der Linden is just the eighth member of FSU’s 100-RBI club and she is just the second player ever at Florida State to break the 140 RBI barrier.

Speaking of RBIs, freshman Veronica Wootson is off to a pretty good start when it comes to driving in runs. The Tribe’s new second baseman has 19 RBIs on the year and is just one away from hitting 20. When Wootson gets her 20th RBI, she will become only the 12th freshman in Florida State history to ever record 20 RBIs in her first season. With seven more RBIs she will have registered the seventh-best RBI season ever at FSU by a freshman. Two of her current teammates are members of this select group. Tatiana George was the last member with 20 RBIs in 20001 and Jessica van der Linden joined on the strength of 36 RBIs in 2001.

Jessica van der Linden	36 (2001)
Brandi Stuart		36 (2000)
Shamalene Wilson	34 (1993)
Jessie McGregor	        32 (1996)
Kristy Hull		32 (1995)
Corrie Williams		26 (1996)
Greta Bahn		25 (1984)
Kelly Flaczinski        24 (1988)
Christy Cerecedes	22 (1996)
Kimmy Carter		21 (1999)
Tatiana George		20 (2002)

Easily the best story on the 2004 Seminole softball team is senior first baseman Beth Wade. The three-year starter is in the midst of her best season by a long shot and it looks like it will culminate with the Colquitt, GA native etching her name in the FSU record book. After homering March 30 versus FAMU, the senior stands just three home runs away from breaking the longest standing offensive record in 21 years of FSU softball. The single season HR record was set in 1987 by Tiffany Daniels (10) and Brandi Stuart tied the mark 15 years later in 2002. Wade is going to have at least 26 more games to get the three homers she needs. Wade isn’t the most unlikely person to break the record but she would be up there. She has always shown sparks of power but she entered 2004 with a lifetime .223 batting average and just four career home runs. This season she equaled her career total in just one week in March when she went yard four times in seven days. Wade isn’t just hitting for power either. The Colquitt, GA native is hitting .306, which is 83 points higher than her career average and her .622 slugging percentage is twice as high as her career slugging percentage of .294. She has already established a new career high for RBIs in just 42 games and she is now just three runs shy of beating her career total for runs scored in one season. The thing to remember with these numbers is that Wade started 116 games the last two years so the fact she is equaling her career totals in just 42 games is amazing.

After everything Jessica van der Linden has done in her three plus years at FSU, it is hard to believe that she is continuing to find new marks to set. You’d expect the senior to start knocking down career records but setting single season highs just 42 games in goes to show how special she is. van der Linden has already set new career highs for runs scored in a season (30) and shutouts (12) this year. While neither is close to an all-time single season record, the southpaw is climbing the shutouts chart. Toni Gutierrez holds the all-time mark with an amazing 23 shutouts in a season but van der Linden will have a shot to at least become only the third FSU pitcher to record 20 shutouts in a year.

Toni Gutierrez		23 (1992)
Julie Larsen		20 (1986)
Julie Larsen		16 (1987)
Leslie Malerich		16 (2000)
Renee Espinoza		15 (1996)
Christy Larsen		15 (1990)
Three tied with 	14
Five tied with 		13
Jessica van der Linden	12 (2004)

As if Florida State hasn’t been tested enough already, the Tribe will get a clearer picture on how they stack up against the best teams in America this coming week. Four of Florida State’s next five games will come against ranked teams. It starts this Saturday with No. 23 Georgia Tech and then four days later No. 13 Florida comes a calling. That will raise FSU’s total of games played against top 25 teams to 14. With No. 22 Auburn and No. 10 Michigan looming in May, FSU will near the 20-game mark when it comes to ranked teams and that is before postseason even starts. Entering this weekend FSU is 7-3 in 2004 versus top 25 squads.

2/27	16	15	Texas           W       2-1
2/28	4	4	Washington      W       7-1
2/28	5	5	Oklahoma        W       3-2
2/29	20	20	South Carolina  W       3-1
2/29	13	12	LSU             L       3-4
3/6	11	12	La-Lafayette    L       0-1
3/14	12	11	Michigan        W       1-0
3/18	23	23	Arizona State   W       1-0
3/18	20	20	Nebraska        L       0-1
3/20	18	15	Fresno State    W       3-0

If winning the conference came down to which team had the best stats, you could hand the trophy to Florida State today. The Tribe is leading the ACC in team batting average by 15 points and has a team ERA almost half the size of its nearest competitor. The Seminoles are the only ACC team with two of the conferences top five batters according to average and FSU’s two hurlers and numbers one and three in ERA. As a squad, FSU leads the league in average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, runs scored, triples, home runs, RBIs and walks. In the circle, FSU is tops in ERA, opponent batting average, fewest hits allowed, fewest runs, fewest earned runs, most strike outs, most complete games, fewest home runs allowed, most shutouts. Jessica van der Linden is leading the ACC in ERA, strikeouts, shutouts and opponent batting average. Veronica is tops in runs scored and triples and Casey Hunter leads the conference in wins.

The 2004 Seminoles are dominating opponents. Florida State is currently outscoring opponents 6 to 1 and almost half (20 of 42) of the Tribe’s wins have been by five runs or more. The Seminoles have run-ruled 15 opponents and have scored double digit runs in seven games already this season. The Seminoles 6.1 run margin of victory is third-best in school history. In the school’s first year of fastpitch, the Tribe won its games by an average of 8.3 runs per game and the 1993 team had a margin of victory of 6.38 runs. Besides these three teams, no squad in FSU’s 21 years has ever won games by more than 5.7 runs. Thirteen teams even averaged less than three runs per game. The 2004 team is also climbing the list in another category. Florida State’s seven 10+ run games ranks as the seventh most ever in one year. Only three teams have ever recorded 10 or more 10+ run games in one year and the Seminoles will have a chance to do that at their current pace.

As fast as the 2004 Seminole softball team is, it is a little surprising how few bases this squad has swiped. With 44 steals through 42 games, FSU is on pace for the ninth fewest steals ever. The last team that failed to swipe at least 100 bases in a season was the 2002 squad and they ended up in the College World Series semifinals. Part of the reason that FSU isn’t running as much as usual is that this is one of the best hitting teams ever in Tallahassee. It is doubtful that coach JoAnne Graf wants to take any chances with her base runners when she knows she might be taking the bat out of the hand of any of her hitters. There also isn’t as big of a need to manufacture runs in 2004 as there has been in the past. With a .310 team batting average, the 2004 squad is currently third all-time for team batting average.

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