By BRIAN LANDMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 4, 2001
Softball coach JoAnne Graf wants her team to consider this weekend like a "mini NCAA regional."
It's that important.
The No. 16 Seminoles (35-6) have a doubleheader against North Carolina on Friday in Chapel Hill, and as part of the Tar Heel Invitational, they play No. 25 Florida Atlantic on Saturday. FSU is 1-1 against FAU this season, both one-run games.
UNC and FSU, along with East Carolina and Atlantic Coast Conference rivals Georgia Tech, Maryland and Virginia, are members of the Southern Atlantic Alliance. That league's champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
"Florida Atlantic is key for the regional rankings," Graf said. "They'll probably win the TAAC, and if we beat them again, that would help us if we're trying to get an at-large (bid). This is a big, big weekend for us. It's probably the most important so far for us."
DIAPER DANDY: Freshman right-hander Marc LaMacchia, a former star at East Lake High, has had quite an impact for the baseball team. He is 5-0 with a 3.89 ERA. Although he had a no decision in his last outing, Saturday against No. 24 Wake Forest, he struck out seven in five innings.
BIG PERFORMANCES: Senior Joe Allen met NCAA provisional qualifying marks in the triple jump (51 feet, 91/4 inches) and the long jump (25-9) at last weekend's Florida Relays. Junior Makiba Batten provisionally qualified for the NCAA meet in the discus (170-3).
PRIME-TIME RECRUIT: Anthony Richardson, the most highly acclaimed recruit in men's basketball coach Steve Robinson's four-year tenure, was named a third-team All-American by Parade magazine. The 6-foot-7 forward from Leesville Road High in Raleigh, N.C., had 10 points and had a team-high eight rebounds for the East in the McDonald's All-America game last week. He finished fourth in the dunk contest.
POLL WATCHING: The women's basketball team, which reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1991 and advanced to the second round, finished No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll. FSU, which hadn't been ranked since 1991, had never been ranked in a final poll.
"It tops off a fun year for us," coach Sue Semrau said. "Obviously, the respect of the coaches is something that's exciting for our program. Again, it really validates what this senior class has been able to do at Florida State."
- Brian Landman covers Florida State athletics. He can be reached at (813) 226-3347 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.