This week we’ve chatted with the SB Nation folks who blog for Florida State, Texas Tech, and Michigan, and will be publishing those articles as we compile out a schedule, and engage them on the fields of battle at TD Ameritrade! First up is Florida State. We want to thank RaysNNoles and the good people of Tomahawk Nation for helping us learn about them!
How do you feel after the super regional round?
Fortunate. Without at least one win in Baton Rouge the Seminoles would have fallen short of 40 wins for the first time in four decades. If you recall they were one of the last four teams to make it in the field of 64 and without a win in the ACC Tournament they would have missed a regional for the first time under head coach Mike Martin.
What was your team’s strength in the super regional?
The bullpen was fantastic, not only in the Supers but throughout the Regionals. Relief pitching has been pretty bad most of the season but in the postseason its been lights out. The ‘Noles have relied on only 4 pitchers out of the pen during the course of the past five games but that group has allowed only 2 runs in 15.2 innings, and both runs came in a single outing.
What needs improvement?
The starting pitching has to be better, especially in the opener. CJ Van Eyk has been FSU’s best starter all season but has been relegated to throwing on Saturday’s. The “ace” of the staff, LHP Drew Parrish, was named the starting pitcher against Arkansas even though he has been inconsistent throughout the year and the postseason. In his two starts, the junior has given up 8 earned in 9.2 innings, but given the bulk of the Hogs’ best hitters are lefties I can understand the decision to give him the ball in game one.
What has been your team’s signature skill throughout the season(pitching, hitting, defense, etc)?
While the offense is not as prolific as previous seasons, primarily due to the inexperience throughout the lineup, the Seminoles bats are still their best weapon They will once again finish in the top five in walks for the past 10 years which wears on pitchers and are able to vary their approach depending on the opposing pitcher. In the Athens Regional the ‘Noles scored 35 runs in 3 games and were able to rough up the Georgia’s elite arms, Emmerson and Wilcox. During the Baton Rouge Super Regional the Seminoles were no hit through the first 5+ innings in game one and had a stretch of 6+ hitless innings in game two, but in the end there were able overcome deficits and stay resilient from blown lead to win the game.
What players are ones we should watch?
Drew Mendoza, a recent third round pick, is far and away the best hitter in the lineup. The junior third baseman leads the team with 16 home runs and is third in the nation in walks, he had the walk off single against LSU that sent Florida State to Omaha and would be the one fans would want to see up in any high leverage situation. JC Flowers is a two-way threat for the Seminoles. After hitting just four homeruns in his two first seasons his power exploded and currently has 13 home runs and 26 extra-base hits in total. He was drafted last week not because of his bat but because of how he has excelled in his first season on the mound. He stepped into the closer role and has not disappointed, the right handed has 12 saves on the season and head coach, Mike Martin, is not afraid to extend him past an inning or two of relief if needed. Tim Becker, the Seminoles nine hole hitter is a name you might not expect to hear but I am sure he will have plenty of airtime. His first three years in college he played for the club team on campus but walked on to the team in the fall and served primarily as a bench player until the conference tournament. In his last six starts, the left fielder, is 8-21 with 3 home runs and 10 runs driven in.
What does your team need to do to advance?
If the Seminoles can play to the level of somewhere in between the Athens regional and the Baton Rouge Super Regional I believe they stand a shot to make it to the finals. Florida State can really get themselves in trouble with their poor defense so if they can minimize the mistakes, as they have done recently, hit at the same level they have all season and the bullpen stays strong they can keep shocking the college baseball world.
Anything else folks should know about your team?
Did you know this is Mike Martin’s last season as coach after 40 years at the helm? Did you know that he has the most wins all-time, not only in baseball, but in any sport? Did you know that he holds just about every coaching record you can imagine? Did you know that Florida State has never won a College World Series? Well if you didn’t, you will most certainly be reminded again and again this upcoming week.