Roller Coaster 2011 Start For FSU Softball
Posted by William Kristoph
What an interesting weekend.
First off, I was happy that I was able to attend all 5 of Seminole Softball’s games this weekend. Granted, it wasn’t always pretty, but it’s a rare occasion that I get to stick around for all of their games in any given weekend. Many times, baseball plays at the same time and I walk over there if for no other reason than I had to pay for that ticket. So, this weekend’s Seminole Kickoff Classic was a nice way to start the diamond sports time of year. The weather was nearly perfect for a time of year that can see upper 40′s and rain. I’ll take sunny, cool breezes and mid 50′s any time.
Friday started off badly. There’s no other way to say it. Being no-hit in 9 innings is bad. Being no-hit by UNCG is a level beyond that. I’m not trying to take anything away from the Spartans, and the Noles did make contact throughout that game (Mattison only struck out 2 the entire game, so the balls just didn’t fall in for FSU), but this is the kind of stuff that FSU needs to avoid if they want to be successful this season. Sarah Hamilton is this year’s Ace. Nobody else is going to step up to take that role this year, so getting #25 proper run support is key to winning half (+) of the schedule. I watched this all too often when Tiffany McDonald was pitching for FSU and it frustrated me to no end. Feast or famine offense bugs me.
Other highlights. Courtney Senas looks like a solid addition in CF, as a freshman. Mallory Borden takes over at 2B as the starter (McConn subbed in sparingly). Robin Ahrberg and Jennifer Lapicki are platooning at C/1B which I think is a solid idea by Coach Alameda’s staff. It keeps both bats in the lineup. Both Ahrberg and Lapicki have solid bag presence at 1B and both, of course, are good catchers.
It was a disappointing start, but I figured the Noles would rebound against St. John’s provided that someone was ready to pitch.
Suffice to say, the #2 pitcher spot is a work in progress. What I was informed, was that the apparent #2 pitcher did a signing day switch to another school. It happens, but that means FSU is going to be piecing together a lot of Game 2′s this year. Monica Perry is not an option, since she has to sit out this season after transferring and Illinois not granting her release (evidently that’s common and nothing to stink eye Illinois about). Either way, Jessica Nori started against St. John’s and was not yet ready for prime time. That doesn’t mean she won’t be, she just wasn’t yet, facing 10 batters and giving up 5 runs. Lauren Varsalona filled in without giving up a run in 3 innings and Morgan Bullock closed it out giving up 6 runs (3 earned).
On the bright side, the Noles picked up 5 runs on 10 hits. Robin Ahrberg hit a BOMB to left. Courtney Senas introduced herself with 2 hits. Tiffani Brown was 3-4 out of the leadoff spot. The offense, while not a bunch of power hitters, is capable of producing a lot of runs when it’s clicking. Saturday showed that.
Another beautiful day, but this time with an offensive explosion. Against Hofstra, the Noles picked up their first victory of the season 5-1. Robin Ahrberg hit another bomb off of the LF foul pole. It took the umpires two minutes of discussion to call it a Home Run. Why? Apparently none of the umpires was paying attention to the ball hitting two-thirds of the way up and bouncing back into play. Wake up guys! Sarah Hamilton pitched well overall, but seemed to my eye that she was leaving some balls up in the zone too much. Hofstra’s only run of the Noles’ 5-1 victory came on a Home Run by Trisha Drislinski.
Game 2 of the day featured payback to UNCG for the opening day loss. FSU pounded out 13 runs on 13 hits. The best moment of the night came when Tiffani Brown, generally a slap hitter in the leadoff position, smacked one over the RF fence. Brown, apparently didn’t watch the ball go out, because Morgan Bullock was only half way between 1B and 2B when it looked like she informed Brown of the HR. The hands-to-mouth shock expression was priceless, as was the grin when #6 rounded 3B on her way to be greeted by the entire FSU team. Moments like that are genuine and a big part of the appeal of softball to me. On the flip side, UNCG only managed 3 runs on 9 hits against FSU’s starting pitcher Morgan Bullock. The mercy rule ended it after 5 innings.
Note to fans, you can’t call balls and strikes from side. You can’t. Harass the umpire from behind the plate, off to the side is just silly. Note to umpires, stop making bad calls on catches in the outfield and throws to the bases. If you were there, you get it. If you weren’t, it’s to hard for me to explain in a post other than I still think the umpires called the wrong person out and called a non-catch a catch.
It was the best day of the weekend. Slightly warmer, even clearer, but things were out of sorts from the start. The game started over an hour late thanks to a MARATHON consolation game. I understand why they play the consolation game first. When you crown a tournament champion it should be the last game of the day, but it still bothers me that the teams playing with something on the line had to wait around while UNCG and St. John’s took their sweet time finishing up.
Offensive consistency was a problem again. The Noles managed only two hits against Hofstra’s Olivia Galati. Hofstra managed only 4 against Sarah Hamilton, but made it count with Laura Valentino squeaking out a HR on a pitch that seemed to be up in the zone again. It was a disappointing end to an up and down weekend.
Thankfully, softball is a marathon and not a sprint. There are roughly 60 games to sort all of this out. To get it going though, they need to do the following as the season progresses.
- A #2 pitcher MUST emerge behind Hamilton. I don’t care whether it’s Nori, Bullock, Varsalona or Townsend. It doesn’t matter, but someone will need to emerge to take some pressure off of the Noles offense and take the pressure off of Hamilton. Everyone has bad days. In the past, FSU has had the luxury of putting in Hamilton for Gober, or vice-versa. Right now, they don’t, it’s solely on the shoulders of #25.
- Offensive consistency. I’m fairly certain that it will come over the next couple of weeks as the Noles work their way into the season. There are a lot of solid bats on the team, lots of speed overall and the lineup will adjust as we move forward to maximize it’s potential.
- Keep the mental errors down. I saw a couple this weekend and that’s to be expected in the opening games. As the season progresses, the brain cramps should stop.
Next up for the Noles is FAMU on Tuesday night.