January 10, 2005 - by
Seminole Softball Hits The Field For First Practice Of The Spring

Jan. 10, 2005

To view photos from today’s practice, click here.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State softball team held its first official practice Monday afternoon at the Seminole Softball Complex as it works toward the 2005 season that gets underway in less than a month.

The Tribe is coming off arguably the best season in the program’s history that saw FSU ending the year with a 62-12 record, a Top 5 national ranking, and its seventh trip to the Women’s College World Series (WCWS). The 2005 season will mark the 27th for head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf, who is 1,276-367-6 in 26 previous season.

Florida State returns seven of nine starters, but it has a heavy void to fill after losing the USA National Player of the Year, Jessica van der Linden. With the graduation of Florida State’s most decorated female athlete of all time, senior second-team NFCA All-American Casey Hunter will be the top ace on the mound. The Seminoles also welcome back second-team NFCA All-American, Veronica Wootson, at second base, who became the first Florida State softball player in school history to ever be named an All-American in her rookie campaign. Joining Wootson and Hunter in the infield is Lesley Palmer at third base, four-year starter Tatiana George at shortstop, and utility player Kim Hoffer who started in 61-of-71 games in 2004 at shortstop and third base, respectively.

The outfield is stacked with veterans that include junior left fielder Natasha Jacob who was an everyday starter the last two seasons, junior center fielder Carly Brieske, and sophomore right fielder LaShaun Davis. Returning letterwinners include junior catcher BillieAnne Gay, who is vying for a starting position behind the plate, and last year’s key reserves, Katie Fricke and Carey Galuppi. Sophomore pitcher Amy Harrison is also back.

Five freshmen make up a highly taunted rookie class that hit the field for the first time today and they include Whitney Buckmon, Tiffany McDonald, Brittany Osmon, Robyn Petrovich, and Melissa Wood.

Florida State travels across town to Florida A&M University for a doubleheader on February 9 to open the 2005 campaign. The team will continue preparations for the season with daily practices beginning at 3:00 p.m.

Notes and Quotes

Center fielder Carly Brieske

On the first day of practice…

“The first day was really exciting and we did really well. We actually started conditioning last week, but today was the first official day of practice, so we were all ready to get started and begin a new season. ”

On the high expectations of the program this year…

“There is not a whole lot of pressure. We lost some key players but we got a lot of great additions, too. We try not to focus on that kind of stuff and we’ll just play our best. The rest will work out.”

On her goals…

“I want to work on all aspects of the game and try to really work hard this next month before games start. It’s great seeing all of us out there working and putting extra time in. Also, I really want to improve on my hitting and work on that a little bit.”

On being an upperclassman and taking on a leadership role…

“I’m excited being an upperclassman and taking on a new role. At the same time, the sophomores are taking on a leadership role, too, because they are no longer the newcomers. I think we have a bunch of leaders and everyone is stepping up. Sometimes it takes a while for the true leaders to emerge and I think we’ll have many people that fill that role with no problem.”

Catcher Melissa “Moe” Wood

On the name she prefers…

“I like people to call me by my nickname, “Moe.”

On her first day of practice…

“Today was a good day because everybody got to get back together and work on some things we were rusty on. I think we know that the first game is not far away and I think that everyone is excited.”

On her personal goals this season…

“I definitely hope to see a lot of playing time, I hope to minimize the strikeouts when I’m hitting and I also hope to be a homerun threat. Defensively, I hope to have a very good throw-out percentage.”

Head Coach Dr. JoAnne Graf

General comment on practice…

“I was real pleased today. I thought the kids came back from the holidays in pretty good shape. We did some conditioning and only went about half-speed so that they don’t hurt their arms. Overall, I thought they looked good…they were very enthusiastic, ready to go and ready for an exciting season.”

On the possibilities of freshman Brittany Osmon starting at first base…

“Brittany [Osmon] is fine at first base. I got to see her a lot in the fall and everyday she is getting more and more confident. I think as she and Veronica [Wootson] work more and more together they will become a real solid combination. Brittany is going to be a good first baseman.”

On the newcomers…

“I think they are good. Melissa Wood looked good behind the plate, Whitney Buckmon looked good in the outfield, and Tiffany McDonald looks very healthy so that’s always a good sign. Our other freshman, Robyn Petrovich, will be a great asset to our team, too We’ll take it one day at a time and our goal is to leave practice everyday better than we came.”

On early challenges…

“I think the biggest thing is trying to hit live pitching. I think we need to hit live pitching as soon as possible. That is one of the biggest challenges. Our defense will come around pretty quickly and that was one of the positives from the fall. I think defensively, we’ll be really strong and we’ll have a lot of good speed. So, now we have to work more on game situations and on our live hitting.”

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