April 17, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) - The No. 21 Florida State University softball team prepares for a quick turnaround as it begins a difficult two-game road trip starting with No. 22 LSU on Wednesday, April 18, at 7 p.m. E.T. FSU then plays at Troy on Thursday, April 19, at 5 p.m. E.T.
The Seminoles (38-10) are looking for a two-game road sweep to reach the 40-win plateau for what would be the 29th time in the program's illustrious history. FSU continued to make big strides by defeating ACC rival Georgia Tech on Monday evening by a 4-3 score in front of an ESPNU national audience at JoAnne Graf Field.
"These are two extremely important ballgames for us," head coach Lonni Alameda said. "Both of these teams have proven to be difficult to beat at home. Our pitching will have to step up in games like these and someone will have to come through with some good at-bats to help us accomplish our goal of coming back to Tallahassee with a couple more wins."
FSU's first game of the mid-week at LSU is an important one in terms of NCAA postseason seeding. The Tigers (29-13) are ranked 20th in the latest ratings percentage index, while the Seminoles are rated 18th. FSU owns eight wins over current RPI Top 50 opponents, with its highest-rated victory coming against No. 25 Georgia Tech on two occasions.
A possible pitcher's duel could form between LSU and FSU if redshirt junior Monica Perry and junior Rachele Fico take the circle. Perry is second in the ACC and 33rd in the nation with a 1.55 earned run average, and has struck out 180 batters this season. The Whitesburg, Ga., native is 23rd nationally in hits allowed per seven innings and 32nd in strikeouts per seven innings pitched.
Fico, who hails from Oxford, Conn., is 14-6 this season with a 1.07 ERA and 129 strikeouts. She was recently named one of 25 finalists for the USA Softball Player of the Year award. No. 2 starter Brittany Mack has also been formidable with a 12-7 record and a 2.46 ERA.
The Seminole offense continues to work its way upward, showing a .280 team batting average that is the highest since FSU batted .282 as a unit early in the season following a win over Southern Illinois on Feb. 25. Senior Shayla Jackson has stepped up her production as of late, riding a 13-game hitting streak that is the longest by a Seminole this season.
In Jackson's 13-game streak, she has batted .391 (18-for-46). Her overall batting average went from .272 right before the streak to its current mark of .309, a rise of 37 points.
With an injury to de facto closer Bailey Schinella, redshirt sophomore Jessica Nori has really stepped up and proven that her performance in last year's NCAA postseason was no aberration. Nori was arguably FSU's most important pitcher in its series win over Georgia Tech, allowing just one run in six relief innings while tallying six strikeouts.
The Troy Trojans (27-16, 7-9) own a couple substantial wins over Louisiana-Lafayette and Auburn, both at home. Four regular starters are batting over .300, led by Sarah Shields and her .342 batting average. Hayden Gann is hitting .333 with six home runs and 23 RBIs.
Fans can follow Wednesday and Thursday's action with in-game updates on FSU softball's official twitter handle - @FSU_Softball.