And So It Ends.
Just over a week ago, the FSU Softball team had a rough go of the ACC Championship Tournament, eliminated by Georgia Tech 9-1 in the 2nd round. The dreams of repeating last year's unlikely ACC Championship were slammed shut by a hot Yellow Jackets team. Thanks to a rough final few weeks, the NCAA Committee decided that Tallahassee wasn't worthy of hosting a regional (even though our RPI was 16) and saw fit that the Noles had to fly out to Los Angeles for the UCLA Regional last weekend.
I didn't like FSU's chances against the powerful UCLA bats, and eventually the Noles were eliminated from the region, but the regional was very, very different than expected based on the seeding. Both Florida State and UCLA lost their opening round games (FSU 1-0 to San Diego State behind a gem of a game by Monica Perry). FSU then eliminated UCLA in the loser's bracket 2-1, but then couldn't muster up any offense against San Diego State in an elimination game, losing 1-0 and ending the 2012 season.
There's a lot to like about FSU Softball. Coach Alameda has the ship pointed in the right direction overall. The 2012 edition won 15 more games in only 3 more played overall than the 2011 team. FSU's dropped their Team ERA by over a whole point (2012 - 1.53 vs 2011 - 2.66). They gave up 81
LESS FEWER hits than the 2011 edition in 25 MORE innings. They also walked 76 LESS FEWER batters. Are you getting the recurring theme here? This team was all about the pitching staff.
The great news? We lose none of them to graduation. Perry, Nori, Waldrop and Schinella are all due back in 2013. Waldrop and Schinella return as sophomores, so with some offseason work their numbers should be even better than an excellent first year campaign.
Year to year, the fielding numbers are very similar with a slight improvement for the 2012 team (9
less fewer errors over an increase of 100 chances).
The big concern remains the offense. I feel like a broken record when it comes to this, because this goes back to the JoAnne Graf Era too. The Noles managed only 2 runs in their final 3 games behind excellent pitching. Only two hitters managed to bat above .300 this year (Jackson, Brown) vs five last year. As a team, the Noles' BA dropped 25 points (2012 - .264 vs 2011 - .289). The brightest spot for FSU was it's discipline and ability to draw a walk this year (2012 - 220 vs 2011 - 137). Keep in mind that nearly 23% of those (52 walks) were by one player, Erika Leonard. FSU continued its power outage, dropping their SLG% from .419 to .387 and ranking in 150s for HR per game and 170s for 2B per game.
I realize the old saying is that, "You can't coach speed." We have plenty of speed (85 SB in 103 attempts), but you also can't defend 300 foot bombs either. Hopefully we can recruit power as we move forward to help out a fantastic pitching staff.
There's lots to look forward to next year. With so many returning players, the goal should not only be an ACC (Big XII? I kid, I kid we won't be out of the ACC yet.) Championship, but a long overdue trip (it's been 8 long years now) to Oklahoma City for the Women's College World Series.