In The Spotlight

Trent Peterson's dream is shared by many young baseball players raised in Tallahassee -- to play at Florida State. Well, Peterson has accomplished that goal and will take the mound in the Seminoles' super regional opener Saturday against defending CWS champion Texas. Click here for all the details.

Funny how life works sometimes, isn't it?

Take Florida State junior pitcher Trent Peterson, for example.

Peterson, 21, entered the season as the Seminoles' No. 3 starter, was bumped from the rotation, only to quickly return and emerge as the Seminoles' ace two months later.

Peterson, who will start in game one of the Super Regional against Texas Saturday night at Dick Howser Stadium, is 10-1 with a 2.68 ERA and a team-high 109 strikeouts. He was a first team All-ACC selection this year and a second team Collegiate Baseball All-American.

"I really didn't expect it (season) to happen quite this way," Peterson admitted.

The storyline gets better.

Peterson was selected in the fifth round of the major-league draft by the Oakland A's (152nd overall) Tuesday. Peterson, undrafted out of Florida High in Tallahassee, and teammates Tony Richie, Matt Lynch and Daniel Hodges were following the draft on the internet's live audio feed when Peterson's name was suddenly called.

"We all kind of stopped what we were doing and looked at each other," Peterson said and laughed.

"It was definitely a nice surprise - then the telephone calls started. I was hoping to be taken somewhere in the top 10 rounds. You hear rumors but I had no idea (selected by Oakland). It's neat but I am not worried about that right now."

No wonder.

SCRAPPY BUNCH

Peterson will be focused and all business when he takes the mound for the Seminoles. FSU enters super regional play as the No. 1 national seed and in quest of its first return trip to the College World Series in three years.

The Longhorns, meanwhile, visit Tally for the first time after winning the Austin regional last weekend, beating upset-minded Lamar in the finale. Texas also enters as the defending CWS champion and five-time winner of college baseball's most coveted prize.

Peterson and FSU are hoping to set the tone early. The Seminoles' pitching staff ranks fourth nationally with a 2.48 ERA and has led the ACC in each of the last seven years.

Peterson will face a Texas team that returns six position players, including closer Huston Street, the CWS Most Valuable Player. While the 'Horns don't boast the long-ball power of a year ago, they can manufacture runs in a variety of ways, from hit-and-run to bunts to taking the extra base.

Texas has 109 stolen bases - the most in nine years - 36 triples and has scored 37 percent of its runs (448) with two outs. Right fielder Dustin Majewski is an All-American who leads the Big 12 with 81 RBIs and has hit safely in 30 of the past 32 games. Even the club's top reliever - Street - has 14 starts at third base.

"They are a scrappy bunch," Peterson said.

"They might not have the power but they try to get it done by stealing, bunting and clutch hitting. We've worked a lot on bunt (defense) this week. They ('Horns) have some dirtball in them. You have some guys with some pop, guys who can run, guys who were high draft picks. You can't go putting it down the middle to these guys."

Peterson has no such intention.

While admittedly not blessed with a "lightning bolt arm," Peterson is more of a deft technician. Location is paramount and he has developed a quality changeup and curveball since arriving at FSU. "I feel like I can throw either pitch anytime in the count and that has been a big part of my success," Peterson said. He has no superstitions other than taking a shower before his starts.

"Yeah, just a regular ol' shower. It wakes me up," Peterson said and laughed.

Peterson's season has been somewhat of an eye-opener, though his talent was never in question. He started the Sunday game against VMI, taking a no-decision, and then threw in relief in all three games at Stanford. Peterson earned his first win against Evansville Feb. 16 and has been a model of consistency since that point, moving into the Friday night starter's role in late March. Not even season-ending elbow surgery to Marc LaMacchia has slowed the staff's success.

Peterson, whose lone defeat came against Clemson, believes his best performance of the season was a no-decision against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament. He allowed just two runs on six hits in eight innings, with nine strikeouts and just two walks.

"Just the way my arm felt and the way I was releasing the ball that game. It wasn't an amazing game or anything like that, but everything felt like it was working," Peterson said.

Peterson also had a no-decision in the regional last weekend against South Alabama after giving up three runs on nine hits in 6.1 innings.

DREAM COME TRUE

Peterson, whose career record is 19-4 with a 2.96 ERA, is a local made good. He starred at Florida High, which was a picher's long toss away from Dick Howser Stadium before the new school was built in Southwood two years ago.

Though recruited by Florida, Auburn, Central Florida and others, Peterson's dream was to play at FSU.

"It's kind of hard to leave the spot where you grew up watching baseball," Peterson said. "I've always wanted to put on that Garnet & Gold."

Peterson's also a homebody, returning home to eat dinner with his family three to four times a week. He jumps on the Internet when time allows and hangs with teammates. Admittedly laid back, Peterson pretty much "hangs around the house and waits until tomorrow," he says with a laugh.

Well, tomorrow will be here soon enough, which means Texas will be in town. Peterson and the Seminoles' staff are expected to play a key role in the best-of-three series. Peterson will be followed in the rotation by Matt Lynch and, if necessary Monday, Daniel Davidson.

"This is definitely the best staff I've been on since I've been here," Peterson said.

"From the starters through the bullpen, we have everything we need. One of the reason I signed with FSU was to get to the CWS. My class hasn't gotten there yet, and it has been disappointing to be so close for the last two years. Last year losing to Notre Dame was tough and we have a chip on our shoulders now. Maybe the third time is the charm."

The same could be said of Peterson's season, though it's also a reflection of hard work and dedication. Funny how life works sometimes, isn't it?

"I just kept my head (on straight) and kept working, waiting for my next opportunity," Peterson said of his approach when bumped from the rotation early in the season.

"When Marc (LaMacchia) went down (elbow), we needed to step up. I waited my turn, got back into the rotation and then never looked back. Before I knew it, I was the Friday (starter). You just never know what's going to happen. You have to keep practicing hard and step up when you get the opportunity."

For Peterson and the 'Noles, their next opportunity is a big one against the 'Horns.


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