May 10, 2001
Raleigh, NC - The ACC held its annual softball banquet Thursday night in Raleigh, NC and the conference's regular season champion, Florida State swept the three top honors as well as placing five players on the 12-member All-ACC team. For the fourth time in 10 years, a Seminole won the coveted player of the year award (Leslie Malerich) while head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf took home coach of the year honors for the fourth time and Jessica van de Linden became just the third FSU player to win rookie of the year since the Seminoles joined the ACC 10 years ago.
The Seminoles placed more players on the All-ACC team than any other school as seniors Robyn Gauger (first base) and Serita Brooks (center field), junior Malerich (pitcher), sophomore Brandi Stuart (second base) and freshman van der Linden (outfield/pitcher) were all represented on this year's team. Florida State's five All-ACC representatives are the most since 1995 when six Seminoles were named to the team and ties the 1998 squad who also placed five players on the All-ACC tam.
Malerich is the first Seminole to win player of the year in five years. She leads the ACC and is No. 11 in the nation with a 0.67 ERA and she has the best winning percentage of any ACC starter. She went a perfect 4-0 with a 0.00 ERA against the conference while striking out 13 batters in 26 innings. She also held ACC batters to a .180 average this season. Malerich is the only pitcher to beat every ACC team this year. Van der Linden has had a dominating season on the mound and in right field for FSU. The freshman from Cerritos, CA has started more games than any other FSU freshman this season and is hitting .316 and is leading the team in triples and tied for the team lead in doubles. She is 13-3 on the year on the mound and is holding batters to an ACC-leading .108 batting average. Her 0.78 ERA is the 17th best in the nation and third best in the conference. Graf wrapped up her eight ACC regular season title in 10 years this year and has led the Seminoles to the NCAA Tournament for the 14th time in the past 15 seasons. Her Seminoles went 7-1 in the conference this season and have the nation's fifth-best winning percentage.
Gauger is a first-time member of the All-ACC squad and is hitting .325 for the season. She is second on the team with 35 RBI and tied for second with three triples. Stuart is having an amazing follow-up season after making a strong bid for rookie of the year honors last year. She leads the team in batting average, slugging percentage, total bases and hits. She is in the top four of six different offensive categories in the ACC and became only the second player in Florida State history to ever be named an NFCA/Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week. Brooks has been a member of the All-ACC team for two years in a row now and she leads the ACC in stolen bases and is No. 2 in runs scored. She leads the team with 51 runs scored and is 13th in the country with a perfect 44 for 44 mark in steals this season.
Florida State opens ACC Tournament play Friday, May 11. The No. 1 seeded Seminoles will play Friday at 7:00 p.m. against the winner of the Georgia Tech/Maryland game. For more information on the ACC Tournament, photos from the ACC softball banquet and the Seminole softball team please visit www.seminoles.com.