Perhaps they're just excited to finally get into regional play.
Florida State has made the NCAA tournament in each of Mike Martin's 33 years at the helm.
Or maybe the sting from last weekend's disappointment in the Atlantic Coast Conference is still lingering.
Whatever it is, the members of the Florida State baseball team said Wednesday that they've seen a difference in practice this week. A sharpness and focus that they hope will carry into this weekend.
The Tallahassee regional begins Friday at noon when second-seeded Mississippi State takes on Samford, and continues at 6 p.m., when FSU faces UAB.
“(Practices) have definitely been pretty intense. I'd definitely say they've been pretty game-like,” second baseman Devon Travis said. “A lot of stuff we're doing is refreshers, but a lot of guys are taking it pretty seriously, and it's good.”
Mike Martin has seen the buzz surrounding postseason play often during his tenure at FSU – the Seminoles have made the NCAA tournament in each of the last 35 years, 33 under Martin – and said that having long-term goals finally in sight can contribute to a renewed sense of focus.
“These guys are just excited, as our coaching staff is,” Martin said. “It's the time of the year that you look back and you say in August, our goal was to get to Omaha. Well, you're not going to get to Omaha if you're not able to play well in a regional.”
Florida State enters the regional in stark contrast to its three possible opponents. All three of FSU's regional guests – UAB, as well as Mississippi State and Samford – enter the postseason on the heels of conference tournament victories.
The Seminoles, meanwhile, are riding a three-game losing streak and have dropped eight of their last 12 contests.
The tone of practice this week, they say, is why they're confident despite their recent struggles.
“We've just got to get hot. We've got to get going,” Travis said. “There's nothing wrong with us, it's just baseball. You're going to lose games, and just because you're losing games doesn't mean there's anything wrong.”
Added center fielder James Ramsey: “We need to get back to playing fundamental baseball. We've gotten away from our strengths and we recognize that. We didn't recognize it too late.”
Sitz gets the nod
By Bob Ferrante
Scott Sitz has pitched some of his best baseball in the NCAA postseason.
A year ago, he helped FSU beat Alabama with a four-inning save in the Tallahassee Regional. And the next weekend, Sitz pitched four innings to get a win over Texas A&M in the Super Regional.
FSU coach Mike Martin is hoping for a similar performance on Friday, when Sitz takes the mound against UAB in the Seminoles’ first game of the regional.
“Scotty has been pitching very well,” Martin said. “And he’s the most rested of our pitchers. (The postseason) is not anything new to him. … We think Scotty is a good choice.”
Sitz (3-3) had a hunch that he or Mike Compton would get the call to start on Friday.
When pitching coach Mike Bell told Sitz that the opportunity was his, Sitz knew that he would be counted on to set the table for this regional for the Seminoles.
“We have to win that first game to set us up for the rest of the regionals,” Sitz said. “If you lose one game, you have to play so many more games to get out of the regionals.”
The move could pay dividends for FSU. If Sitz helps the Seminoles earn a win on Friday, FSU would then have its top two starters – Brandon Leibrandt and Compton – for what would appear to be more challenging weekend games, potentially against No. 2 seed and SEC champion Mississippi State.
Sitz has had an up-and-down junior season. He took the loss in the ACC Tournament opener against Georgia Tech after allowing four earned runs on five hits in 4.2 innings. But he also threw five shutout innings in a win over Central Florida in March and held Stetson to a run over six innings in a May 8 win.
Ramsey, Boyd honored by Golden Spikes distinctions
By Kasey Dixon
Two FSU baseball players are being recognized for their outstanding performances this season.
Junior first baseman Jayce Boyd and senior center fielder James Ramsey have been named semifinalists for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award. Only two other teams had multiple players named to the list, including Texas A&M with three and LSU with two.
“Knowing that I made that list is really special to me especially to be on there with Ramsey,” Boyd said.
Boyd ranks in the top ten in the ACC in seven offensive categories. He is first in batting average (.395) and hits (84), second in RBIs, fourth in doubles, fourth in on-base percentage, eighth in total bases and tenth in slugging percentage.
In April, he tied his career-high of five hits to beat the Rhode Island Rams. Boyd was also named the All-ACC first baseman.
Also named to the All-ACC first-team, Ramsey ranks in the top ten in the ACC in ten offensive categories. He leads in runs scored (69), total bases (134), on-base percentage (.515), and slugging percentage (.673). Ramsey is the only player in the country to rank in the top ten in walks, on-base percentage, runs and runs per game. He has started 188 consecutive games, including 55 games in center field for this season.
“All the awards are going to gain dust, but it’s really a testament to our team and my teammates,” Ramsey said. “I came into the program wanting to leave it better than it was when I got here.”
Ramsey was also named the ACC player of the year, is a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and is a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.
Head coach Mike Martin was not surprised that Boyd and Ramsey made the list.
“You’ve got one that led the league hitting and another one that was the ACC Player of the Year. I would say that’s justifiable and I’m very proud of both of them,” Martin said.
The three finalists for the Golden Spikes Award will be announced Tuesday and the winner will be announced at the MLB Network studios in New
Jersey on July 6.