May 3, 2012
TALLHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) - The 19th-ranked Florida State University softball team wraps up its regular season with a three-game set at Maryland beginning on Saturday, May 5, in College Park, Md. The series starts with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. on Saturday before finishing on Sunday at noon.
Plenty is at stake for the nationally-ranked Seminoles (44-11, 15-3) in this weekend's matchup. FSU sits just percentage points ahead of second-place North Carolina, which holds an 11-3 ACC record and had four conference games canceled due to inclement weather. FSU, however, has played a full slate of ACC games and would need to sweep this weekend's series to wrap up the No. 1 seed should UNC also win its three road games at Boston College.
FSU is hoping to assure its 11th regular-season ACC title, having not made an appearance as the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament since 2004. The Seminoles are looking to reach 18 conference wins, which would break the school record of 17 held by the 2009 squad in what was head coach Lonni Alameda's first season.
"We are happy to be in the position we're in, controlling our destiny for the conference tournament," Alameda said. "Maryland is a good team that always challenges us, especially when we go to their place. It will be important for us to finish the regular season strong and playing our best ball with the postseason right around the corner."
The Seminoles hold a ratings percentage index of 16, while the Terrapins (32-18, 8-7) have an RPI of 65. Maryland is one of five ACC teams with a winning conference record, sitting in fifth place in the ACC standings. If FSU wins the series over Maryland, it will have won all seven conference series this season for the first time since the league went to a 21-game schedule in 2006.
FSU is 43-11 all-time against Maryland, including a 10-6 road record against the Terrapins. Its last trip to College Park in 2010 included a series victory, as FSU won game one by a 2-0 score and took game two by a 3-2 score in eight innings. In the extra-inning affair, then-freshman Tiffani Brown finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Brown leads the ACC is several offensive categories, most notably stolen bases. The junior swiped her 40th bag in FSU's recent doubleheader win over North Florida on Tuesday to become the first Seminole to record at least 40 steals since former All-American Brandi Stuart had 54 in the 2002 season. Brown is batting .316 overall with 60 base hits, 42 runs scored, four triples and 71 total bases. She has been just as consistent in ACC play, hitting .313 in 18 conference games.
The Seminoles are now batting .280 as a group, with sophomore centerfielder Courtney Senas continuing her vast improvement at the plate. The Wahiawa, Hawaii, native is batting .323 to lead the team, whereas last season she was hitting a respectable .297 batting average but had twice as many strikeouts at the same point. Senas finished 5-for-7 in FSU's recent doubleheader against UNF, tallying one double, one triple, one home run and three runs scored.
Senior Kathy McLaughlin has sparked Maryland's offense this season with a team-best .378 batting average and 38 runs scored. Fellow senior Vangie Galindo is batting .356 with 57 base hits, while sophomore Candice Beards is hitting .339 with three home runs and 31 RBIs.
Pitcher Kendra Knight has led the Terrapins in the circle this season, showing a 25-10 record with a 2.55 ERA in 40 appearances. Knight has 271 strikeouts and 196 walks in 225 innings pitched.