Is this the Year?

So much for strong finishes, the Florida State baseball team lost eight of their final 12 games. They still earned a no. 3 overall seed for this weeks Regional's and will host a group that includes Mississippi State, Samford, and UAB. Can the Noles finally breakthrough and win a national title?

NoleDigest takes a look at five things to watch in the baseball tournament.

1. Confidence?

Florida State is no stranger to being ranked in the top 10 in the country. They reached the pinnacle of the sport for a six week stretch as they sat at no. 1. Instead of closing like a freight train, this team closed with a whimper including a dreadful performance in the ACC tournament.

Baseball is a sport of 'runs'......when you are rolling through the schedule and winning (FSU won 15 of 16 between March 2 and March 23) everything is easy. When you are losing it is difficult to get off the snide and you feel like nothing can go right.

FSU needs to put the poor finish behind them and turn things around. They need to RE-GAIN the confidence that they once enjoyed and it starts with a win on Friday against UAB.

2. Mike Martin

Few coaches in the country have been as successful as Martin at winning baseball games. However he has not CLOSED THE DEAL despite a plethora of opportunity.

Unless he truly is snake-bitten....Martin needs to use his experience to make the correct decisions. Sounds obvious, but this is a man that has repeatedly been on the wrong side of key decisions at inopportune times.

He has led FSU to 14 College World Series appearances----not regionals----actual appearances in the "final 8". No national title's.

3. Mathematics

Baseball is a sport that is heavy into mathematics. From a manager's decision of 'playing the odds' to how the numbers work, it is a huge part of the game.

When eight teams show up in Omaha, someone has to win. That 'someone' has not been Florida State up to this point. We are big believers in 'being due' and there is no question that FSU is at the front of the line in that respect.

35 straight appearances in the post-season also has all the earmarks of 'being due'.

The math favors FSU. Is this the year where FSU finally catches a break?

4. One lifeline

Teams can lose in the baseball post-season, but they can only lose once to advance from the Regional's, Super Regional's, and win the College World Series.

Before the disaster finish, FSU only lost back to back games once before May (Wake Forest and Florida). In fact for much of the season this team showed the ability to bounce back as well as any team in the country.

That is the team we need to see starting this weekend, not the one that went into the tank down the stretch.

5. Pitching Wins Championships

Both Mike Compton and Brandon Leibrandt had solid campaigns for FSU. Each started 15 games and kept their ERA under three. While the depth is solid (if not great), it is these two horses that are the key to getting FSU off to a fast start in games.

In addition, Robert Benincasa is one of the top closers in the country, his 47 K's in 33 innings is nothing short of elite.

Summary

When does wild success over the long haul become a problem? When you do not close the deal and that is exactly where the FSU fan sits today.

There is nothing left for this program to accomplish except to win it all. As the no. 3 overall seed this is yet another opportunity for the Noles to get hot and add a national title in baseball to the trophy case.

Will they do it? Only time will tell.


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