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June 8, 2012
There is no question that Florida State's success has been unexpected by most outside of the clubhouse.
FSU (46-15) came into the year with a number of unknowns, mainly the starting rotation, and many expected the season to be a rebuilding year for head coach Mike Martin and his staff. No one explained that to this very young FSU team, led by senior James Ramsey, as they spent the final six weeks of the regular season atop the polls and tied the ACC record for conference wins with a 24-6 league record.
After three straight victories in last weekend's NCAA Regional, FSU now faces off against Stanford (39-16) this weekend in the NCAA Super Regionals with a berth in the College World Series on the line. The super regional round begins tonight at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2).
Stanford head coach Mark Marquees said he knows that FSU will be great challenge for his club this weekend because they expect to win in Dick Howser Stadium.
"Because of what (Coach Martin) has done they're difficult because they expect to win, especially at home," Marquees said. "Just like Texas or the other elite programs. Even if they're not as talented as we might be they're going to expect to win. I think that's a credit to Mike over the years and what he's done. They're talented and they expect to win. We know that we have a tough fight on our hands, but we're excited."
FSU dominated much of the regular season, not dropping a weekend series until mid-May against Clemson. The Seminoles did drop eight of its final 12 games, including an 0-3 performance at the ACC Tournament, but rebounded last weekend.
"It's a season in which sometimes you were surprised and sometimes you were irritated," Martin said. "But I don't know of a year in which I've enjoyed a group more than the one that we've had thus far. I think they're handling their draft situations very well. That's always a coaches concern because you just don't know where their minds are. But I think this club is handling it very well."
Earlier in the week FSU had seven players drafted in the Major League Baseball draft including four juniors who must balance a decision to return to campus for their senior seasons along with focusing on the Cardinal.
Stanford faces the same dilemma; It had five players selected in the draft. FSU third baseman Sherman Johnson, who was drafted in the 15th round by the Los Angeles Angels, agreed with Martin that it wouldn't be tough to refocus because of how good Stanford is.
"We're all older guys and we definitely understand it," Johnson said. "We understand we need to be ready for Stanford. They've been in the polls all year, No. 1, No. 2 in the nation. We know they're going to be a great team that's coming in here and we know we're going to have to be ready to play our best ball."
Martin agrees with Johnson that in order for his team to get past Stanford it will have to play a nearly perfect game. Stanford is hitting .290 as a team and has a team ERA of 3.22. The Cardinal are 30-1 when they score six runs or more in a game.
"You know what you're going to get when you play a Mark Marquess team," Martin said. "They don't have weaknesses. If they do they've spent so much time on it they'll hide it. You won't find it. We've played them a number of times over the years."
Johnson said that the Seminole's biggest advantage this weekend will be the fan support it will receive over the weekend in Tallahassee from the nearly 6,000 fans expected to attend each game.
"Our fans are second to none in the country and they really make it a hostile environment for opponents when they come in here," the senior third baseman said. "It's going to be big for us. If we have an advantage that would be it."
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