On The Hill

High-rolling FSU enters the ACC Tournament as the regular-season champion. Obviously, an important key in the double-eliminaiton tourney will be FSU's pitching. Coach Jamey Shouppe talked to TheTerritory Tuesday about his staff. "One thing we tell our pitchers all the time - I try to preach to our guys - pitching, just like baseball, is not a sprint. It's a marathon. It's all about doing your work every single day so you can compete at the end. And these guys have gotten better," Shouppe said.

Talk about your approach to the ACC Tournament.

"One, two and three are gonna have to throw first. A lot of teams don't do that and there have been years in the past where we felt like we had to get a little further in the ACC to make a real strong regional case. This year we feel like we've already pretty much made a strong regional case. This year, our focus going into the ACC Tournament in terms of pitching is to make sure one, two and three (starters) get their work. We are going to go in some order - we are going to match up a little bit. Matt Lynch will throw first, Trent Peterson will throw second, Daniel Davidson will throw third, regardless whether we win or lose. The reason for that is simply we want to get those guys ready for regional play. We have rolled the dice and thrown our fourth guy first because we felt like to get real strong consideration to be a top eight seed in the country, we needed to at least win or come in second in the conference. So we rolled the dice the first game so we would have it lined up better to be able to put ourselves in position to get first or second in the ACC. This year, hopefully, if we don't come in here and get swept in two games, we already made a pretty strong case to be a top eight seed."

Team-wise and staff-wise, this team played so well down the stretch coming into the ACC Tournament.

"We've played like that all year long. Golly, other than the road trip we took to N.C. State, we've played well all year long. When you lose only eight ballgames - I think they said that's the first time since 1975 we've finished the regular season with single-digit losses - obviously you have played well all year long. I don't know if we are playing any better or any worse if you compared it to how we played all year long to down the stretch, but I do think we are swinging the bat a little bit better. We still can't line up on the field who we want to really get on the field. We still have injuries. Eddy Martinez-Esteve is still hurt. Matt Sauls is probably going to miss the majority of this tournament with an elbow spasm. You wish you could get the nine that you want out there, but maybe that will happen in regional or super regional. Maybe it will keep us from hitting our stride too early. You never know."

As pitching coach, you obviously feel comfortable with your entire staff.

"Certainly. We feel good with any of the 11 on our staff who travel with us. These guys have all throughout the season have pitched very, very well. Cannon probably has our worst numbers but his ERA is under five and some teams don't have a team ERA under five. And we feel comfortable throwing him out there. We think he has very good stuff. We are very confident in all of them."

Are you pleased with the leadership shown by your upperclassmen this year?

"Definitely. Daniel Davidson especially answered the need that we had in our rotation when Marc LaMacchia went down. Anytime as a pitching coach you have a guy like Daniel Davidson who steps up when his team really needs him, that makes you feel really good, like you've done something right. That's the key with pitching to get those guys out there as often as possible. That's what professional baseball does such a great job of. Those guys get plenty of starts and they kind of learn to pitch while they are out on the field. And we've been fortunate this year, and we made a decision this year, that we are going to utilize all our guys. Use our relievers. Matchup, use three, four or five guys a game. But back to Daniel Davidson, he was the guy who stepped up when we needed him to. He's a product of our program. Trent Peterson has been in our program three years now. Matt Lynch has been in our program four years now.

"That makes me feel good as a pitching coach that these guys are consistent in getting better. One thing we tell our pitchers all the time - I try to preach to our guys - pitching, just like baseball, is not a sprint. It's a marathon. It's all about doing your work every single day so you can compete at the end. And these guys have gotten better. Daniel Davidson has gotten better, better and better. Not to say he wasn't good when he got here. The guy was very good. He just never got the opportunity. And when he got the opportunity he made the most of it.

"And that's something else we preach to our guys. You know with Kevin Lynch. Everyone was concerned about Kevin Lynch not getting to pitch. I tell the guys, the best way to pitch more is to pitch better. And Kevin Lynch kept working, kept working and kept working. I told Kevin, the key for you as a pitcher is to not to ask yourself why am I not pitching. The key is to ask yourself how am I going to react when I my opportunity to pitch again. You are going to get opportunities. This ACC Tournament is a great example of that. We are going to have to go through a lot of pitching. Matt DiBlasi has not pitched a whole lot this year. Gosh, he has pitched probably nine, 10, 12 innings. Nine, 10 appearances. But he might get that in the ACC Tournament. He may get two or three appearances and get six, seven, eight or nine innings. Everybody has to be ready to pitch."

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