April 4, 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Senior All-American Leslie Malerich set the all-times wins record at Florida State when she recorded the 91st victory of her career against Florida A&M last Thursday. There was no on-the-field celebration or fan fare because she didn’t even realize what the victory represented. Despite the fact that Malerich is in the midst of overhauling the Florida State softball history book this season, she isn’t concerned with the records she is breaking because she has more important things on her mind.
“I didn’t even know I broke the record, which game was that? As you can tell, I’m not really focusing on individual records right now,” said Malerich. “I could get every record in the book but it won’t mean anything to me unless we get to the NCAA Tournament. It is very exciting but I focus more on our team and its goals this year than what records I may break.”
Malerich has already established three major career records this season. In her first start versus the Rattlerettes in 2002, Malerich made the 136th appearance of her FSU career. That moved her past ex-teammate Jennifer White-Stokes and into first place. She now has 153 appearances in her career.
The Merrillville, IN native broke another all-time record in the process of recording her biggest win of 2002. At the Kia Klassic at Cal State Fullerton, Malerich broke the all-time innings pitched record against No. 6 Oklahoma in a 1-0 shutout victory. Her complete game win not only moved her into first with 852 innings pitched, she is the only pitcher in FSU history to pitch 800 innings in a career.
One day Malerich will look back and be very proud of the records she established during her career but with just over two months left in her senior season, she is focusing on what her team wants to accomplish in the future rather than what she has accomplished in the past.
“I am looking to help this team get to Regionals and that is where my focus is,” said Malerich. “Each year we have been closer and closer and this year I want to get to World Series. This is my last season and that is where my mind is. Not on individual accomplishments.”
The Seminoles have gone to back-to-back regional finals the last two seasons yet have not been to the College World Series since 1993. In 2000, they met UCLA in Los Angeles with a trip to the Women’s College World Series on the line. The Seminoles needed to defeat the Bruins twice in a row but the team saw its dreams of the program’s sixth World Series die after just one game.
Last season, the Seminoles hosted an NCAA Regional and once again found themselves in a similar position. On the final day of the tournament they needed to beat a Pac-10 team ranked in the top 10 in back-to-back games to make it to the College World Series. This time the Tribe beat Cal in the first game and had a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 10th inning with just one strike separating the 2001 squad from its World Series dream. An error and a clutch two-out hit in the bottom of the 10th once again kept the Seminoles from Oklahoma City. Malerich is determined to help pitch her team over that final step this season.
“I just want to help this team win and get to the World Series,” said Malerich. “The last two seasons have been great but have ended in disappointment. I don’t want that to happen again this year.”