January 30, 2003 - by
Three New Starters Will Play Key Roles For No. 9 FSU Softball

Jan. 30, 2003

By Jason Leturmy, FSU Sports Information

Tallahassee, FL – It takes a team effort to get to the College World Series and nobody knows that better than Florida State. While Brandi Stuart was the only Seminole to garner NFCA All-American honors in 2002, the efforts of seniors Leslie Malerich, Kimmy Carter and Monique Marier were all just as important. As the Seminoles look to make it back to Oklahoma City in 2003, they will have to do it without those three seniors.

In an effort to fill the holes left by those three seniors, FSU will turn to a junior, a sophomore and a freshman to help the Tribe make back-to-back trips to the College World Series for the first time since the early 90’s, when the Seminoles appeared at the WCWS in four straight years from 1990-93. To make their return trip a reality, Florida State will look to Elisa Vasquez, Casey Hunter and Natasha Jacob to fill three key positions this year.

Junior Elisa Vasquez enters the 2003 season as FSU’s starting catcher. As part of a battery with Jessica van der Linden in her first two seasons, Vasquez started in 54 games for the Seminoles last year hitting .225 while driving in 15 runs. During three conference games in 2002, Vasquez batted .500 and accumulated a perfect fielding percentage. In her third season, Vasquez will get her shot in the starting line-up for the Seminoles.

“This is so great,” said Vasquez. “I have waited for this opportunity and now I have the chance to go out, play everyday and show what I can do; this is so exciting.”

Vasquez has huge shoes to fill as she looks to replace Kimmy Carter, the all-time RBI leader in FSU history. Carter, the starting catcher for the Tribe in each of Vasquez’ first two seasons, is a member of the ACC’s 50th Anniversary team and was an All-Region selection last year on op of setting the all-time single season mark with 53 RBIs. Vasquez hopes that she can provide the same leadership both on and off the field that Carter displayed during her reign as a Seminole.

“I learned a great deal playing behind Kimmy for two seasons,” said Vasquez. “My expectations this season are to play as well as Kimmy played last year. I want my teammates to have faith in my leadership capabilities from behind the plate, as well as to step up and perform in big situations at the plate. I like the idea of my teammates relying on me to be a leader. I am definitely ready for the challenge.”

Sophomore Casey Hunter will have even greater shoes to fill after the departure of Seminole great Leslie Malerich but Hunter doesn’t feel any pressure coming in and leading the Seminoles inside the circle.

“I am excited about the opportunity,” said Hunter. “I don’t see this as a chance to replace Leslie (Malerich) because she had such a great career as a Seminole, but I see this as a chance to play my own game and make more of an impact than I did as a freshman.”

Hunter saw limited action last season but made the most of her time in the circle going a perfect 4-0 in 11 appearances, while picking up two saves. She pitched 36.2 innings striking out 45 batters and holding opponents to a .205 batting average. Working diligently in the off season to improve her game, Hunter credits first year pitching coach Eve Gaw for helping her prepare for her new role in 2003.

“I have improved so much from a year ago,” said Hunter, “and a lot of thanks has to go to coach Gaw. She has definitely helped me become a better pitcher. I am so excited for the opportunities that lie ahead of me this season.”

Texan Natasha Jacob has generated more buzz than anyone since arriving at FSU this fall. The highly recruited outfielder from Coppell, TX is slated to get the starting nod in left field when the Seminoles open up against Georgia Southern Saturday. Jacob, a 2002 High School NFCA/Louisville Slugger 1st team All-American, was a member of the 2001 State 5A Championship team at Coppell. She will step in for World Series hero Monique Marier, a two-year starter in left field and a dominant power hitter in the Seminole line-up. Jacob feels that her strong work ethic and teammates support have helped make the transition to the next level an easier one.

“Sure there are times I get nervous,” said Jacob, “but that is part of the game. It is so nice to look into the dugout and see my teammates rooting me on, it just inspires me to go out and do my best. Hearing their cheers makes all that pressure fade away. There is no doubt I’ll be nervous come opening day, but that’s just part of the game you come to acquaint yourself with as the season goes on.”

Jacob justified the excitement surrounding her play in an exhibition game versus West Florida last weekend. The freshman went 5-for-7, scored four runs and drove in three RBIs from her leadoff spot.

“I gained a great deal of confidence from the scrimmage against West Florida,” said Jacob. “I was so happy to come out and perform the way I did. This is just the starting point for what I hope will be a great season for the entire team.”

Vasquez, Hunter, Jacob and the rest of the ninth-ranked Seminoles will get the season started in Statesboro, GA when they take on Georgia Southern Saturday, February 1 at 1:00 p.m. The Tribe will open its home slate Tuesday, February 4 at 4:00 p.m. when they take on Auburn in a rematch of last season’s opening round game of the 2002 NCAA Tallahassee Regional in which the Seminoles won 2-1.

For more information on the 2003 Florida State softball team please log on to seminoles.com. Florida State’s official athletic website should be your first stop for stats, photos, weekly releases, game posters, live stats and so much more. Join FSU softball as they look to make another run to the College World Series.

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