March 23, 2007 - by
Seminole Softball Game Day: Conference Play In Full Swing As FSU Plays Host To Virginia Tech

March 23, 2007

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Florida State vs. #25 Virginia Tech
Saturday-Sunday, March 24-25
12 p.m./12 p.m.
Tallahassee, Fla.
JoAnne Graf Field at Seminole Softball Complex

Game One: Watch Live On ACC Select Gametracker
Game Two: Watch Live On ACC Select
Game Three: Live Audio Broadcast 

First Pitch (What You Need To Know):
• The Florida State softball team resumes conference action this weekend when it takes on Virginia Tech in a three-game series starting Saturday at 12 p.m. Both games of Saturday’s doubleheader can be seen through ACC Select.

• The Seminoles broke a four-game losing streak with a 8-0 victory over Florida A&M on Wednesday. It was the 99th meeting between the two schools.

• Florida State avoided being swept by the Hokies last year in Blacksburg by taking the series finale 9-7. FSU leads the all-time series 4-3.

• This weekend’s series features the top three pitchers in the ACC. Virginia Tech is led by 2006 ACC Player & Pitcher of the Year Angela Tincher, who is tops in the league with a 0.45 ERA. FSU’s Tiffany McDonald (Belfair, Wash.) is second in the ACC with a 1.20 ERA and Melissa May (San Diego, Calif.) rates third at 1.29.

• Outfielder Jessica Gilmore (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.) tied her season-high when she went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs against Florida A&M.

Jessica Gilmore, Brittany Osmon (San Diego, Calif.) and Whitney Buckmon (Stone Mountain, Ga.) all have a five-game hitting streak coming into this weekend.

• Pitcher Tiffany McDonald is 2-2 during her career against Virginia Tech with a 2.36 ERA in 26.2 innings and 14 strikeouts.

• Player of the Year candidate Veronica Wootson (Fontana, Calif.) needs one more hit to tie Virginia’s Sarah Larquier for 10th in ACC history at 249 hits.

Conference Play In Full Swing As FSU Plays Host To Virginia Tech
Having snapped a four-game losing streak, the Florida State softball team is back in action this weekend as it resumes Atlantic Coast Conference play. Three weeks after opening the league schedule at NC State, the Seminoles (22-12 overall, 1-2 ACC) play host to their first ACC series at JoAnne Graf Field when No. 25 Virginia Tech (24-9, 2-1) comes into town for a three-game set. The two teams play a 12 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday (March 24) that can be seen live on ACC Select. The series concludes Sunday (March 25) when the Seminoles and Hokies meet in a single 12 p.m. contest.

Seminoles Snap Four-Game Slide With 8-0 Win At FAMU
After a rough ending to its road trip across the country, the perfect remedy for Florida State was a trip just across town. The Seminoles snapped their four-game losing streak by taking down crosstown rival Florida A&M, 8-0, on Wednesday in the 99th meeting between the two schools. Florida State out-hit the Rattlers 10-3 and benefited from 11 free passes (nine walks & two hit batters) from the FAMU pitching staff. The Seminoles scored their first two runs on only two hits then blew the game open by scoring six times in their final three at-bats. Outfielders Jessica Gilmore and Whitney Buckmon accounted for 40 percent (4-of-10) of the Seminoles’ hits. Pitcher Tiffany McDonald threw her fourth shutout of the year by limiting the Rattlers to just three hits.

FSU Hopes To Repeat Hokies’ 2005 Trip To Tallahassee
It’s understandable if Virginia Tech is not fond of the Big Bend after its inaugural visit in the 2005. The Seminoles limited the Hokies to two runs in all three games as they swept the three-game set. Of course Virginia Tech got the last laugh that year as they won the 14-inning marathon 3-2 at the ACC Tournament. The Hokies returned the favor last year as they took two of three from the Seminoles in Blacksburg. Overall, Florida State leads the all-time series 4-3.

Seminoles Tough At Home During Conference Action
Coming into JoAnne Graf Field has been tough of virtually all opponents, but the Seminoles tend to step up their play when conference teams come into town. Unfortunately, Florida State got the first chink in its home armor last year as it dropped six home games, which is almost half of its entire ACC losses at home. The Seminoles won 24-straight home games from April 16, 2000, with a doubleheader win over North Carolina to exactly five years later when the lost the second game of a April 16, 2005 doubleheader with Maryland.

Buckmon Taking Charge At The Plate
No player has been on tear at the plate the last ten days like outfielder Whitney Buckmon. Since the March 10 game against Florida A&M in the FSU Invitational, the Stone Mountain, Ga. native has upped her average by 54 points to her current rate of .364, which ranks seventh in the ACC. Against Cal State Fullerton she set a career-high when she drove in a trio of runs while tying a career-best with her 3-for-4 performance. Primarily a slapper, Buckmon has four extra base hits this year, which is nearly half of her career total coming into the 2007 season. In her last two games, Buckmon has collected five hits, driven in three runs and scored twice. The Chamblee High School product also rates sixth in the league with 11 steals. G

ilmore Starting To Find Her Groove
Now that she’s had some time to knock the rust off after a year away from the game, outfielder Jessica Gilmore is starting to get back into the form that made her a starter at Georgia. Wednesday at Florida A&M she had her best game as a Seminole, going 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored and RBIs. During the month of March she is hitting .400 (8-of-20) to push her average up to .327, which ties her for fifth on the team. Against Cal State Northridge she hit her first home run since April 16, 2005, when she belted one for the Bulldogs against Auburn.

Middle Inning Blues
For the first three innings, the Florida State pitching and defense may be one of the best in the country. Unfortunately, when the fourth inning rolls around things change. Opponents have scored 36 of their 77 runs against the Seminoles in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and scored seven of their 12 game-winning runs in those innings (Exception: Kansas, Southern Illinois (2/25), Michigan-2, NC State (3/3) and Georgia). In all four losses at the Judi Garman Classic, the opponents scored their winning run in the fifth inning and beyond. If the Seminoles can hang on during those innings without giving up the lead they do pretty well, holding a 17-2 record when leading after four innings, 15-2 after the fifth and 16-1 when holding the advantage going into the final inning.

Hokies Are Dr. Jeykll And Mr. Hyde
There are two Virginia Tech teams. The one with Angela Tincher in the circle and the one without. The All-America pitcher is one of the top pitchers in the country with her 0.45 ERA and 301 strikeouts. When she is in the circle the Hokies can beat anyone in the country as is evidence with wins over Georgia Tech (twice), South Carolina, Illinois State, Notre Dame and Auburn. Without her they’ve dropped games to both Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan and a 21-1 defeat to Georgia Tech. Pacing the Virginia Tech offense is outfielder Caroline Stolle with a .385 average and eight home runs.

Pitching Staff Continues To Make Improvements
The pitching staff continues to show the most improvement this year over any of the other spots as can bee seen with their staff ERA of 1.68 that rates second in the league. Hurler’s Tiffany McDonald and Melissa May are second and third in the ACC’s individual ERA race with rates of 1.20 and 1.28 respectively. Rookie Terese Gober (McDonough, Ga.) is knocking on the door of the top ten with her 2.55 ERA. The Seminoles are the only team to have a pair of players rank in the top five for ERA, shutouts (McDonald, 3rd – 4 & May, 5th – 3) and opponent batting average (McDonald, 2nd – 1.65 & Gober, 4th – 1.77). Free passes have been the down fall of the staff as Florida State rates fourth in the league with a 2.6 walk-to-strikeout ratio.

Wootson Looking To Crack Another ACC List
As her stellar career continues to wind down, Player of the Year candidate Veronica Wootson moves higher and higher up several conference and school top ten lists. She comes into this weekend’s series needing just one more base hit to tie Virginia’s Sara Larquier for tenth in ACC lore with 249 hits. She is only three home runs shy of setting the school’s single-season record and four more triples gets her onto the NCAA Top 25. Already in the FSU top five of six lists, top three on three charts, she is on pace to rank in the top five of nearly every offensive category by the time her career wraps up at the end of this season.

Homecoming Helps Osmson
Returning to the West Coast was a big boost for San Diego native Brittany Osmon as she continued her best offensive stretch of the year. Starting with the first game of the Judi Garman Classic her average has risen by 43 points to its current rate of .333. Dating back to a 2-for-3 day with two runs and two RBIs versus Maine, Osmon has brought her average up by .133 points. She went 2-for-2 – including her first triple since her freshman year – with an RBI and two walks.

McDonald Continues To Get Back Into Old Form
With the bulk of the conference season ahead of Florida State, the return of pitcher Tiffany McDonald to her regular form is a welcomed sight. In her last three starts, all victories, she has only surrendered one unearned run to No. 12 Washington with 29 strikeouts in 21 innings of work. During that time has seen her ERA drop to by 0.17 to it’s lowest point since the end of February. Compared to this time last year her ERA is down by a full run and can be attributed to the fact that she has had to make six less appearances and throw 40 less innings.

News and Notes:
Florida State is tops in the ACC with 19 double plays turned. Maryland is the next closest at 12 … Seminole catchers have thrown out seven runners this year, which is the fourth-highest total in the league … FSU is 5-2 this year when playing on ACC Select … Veronica Wootson is FSU’s top hitter in victories and hits 84 points higher when FSU wins (.417-to-.33), while Whitney Buckmon leads the team during the 12 losses and hits 55 points better in losses (.400-to-.333) … During victories, Florida State averages 6.36 runs, a .338 batting average, 0.95 ERA and .956 fielding percentage. When it loses: 2.50 runs, .244 average, 3.02 ERA and .948 fielding percentage … With seven home runs, shortstop Yuruby Alicart (Maracay, Venezuela) is already tied for eighth on the Florida State single-season list and her 19 career homers is tied with Lisa Davidson for fourth.

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