FSU - UF Preview

<b>TALLAHASSEE –</b> FSU starting pitcher Hunter Jones will get a welcome call Wednesday when the Seminoles host rival Florida Wednesday afternoon. <br><br> Ace at the beginning of the season, Jones will start against UF and get a chance to prove himself after banishment to the bullpen. Also at stake: team-wide redemption. In the teams' March 31 meeting in Gainesville, Seminole infielders committed three errors in the bottom of the eleventh inning as the Gators escaped with a 7-6 win.

"That was as disappointing a loss as I have had at Florida State," FSU coach Mike Martin said. "We literally gave that one away. In no way am I taking anything away from their club – they beat us - but I was disappointed with the way we got beat."

Jones' removal was just one of the many changes that ensued over the next two weeks, but was perhaps the most mysterious. After working a scoreless inning and just two batters in the second in his last start against Miami, Jones was lifted in favor of Rhett James. James is now the Sunday starter, Jones has worked just a third of an inning since.

Gone was his command. Confidence followed.

"Basically what Hunter needs is a strong outing," Martin said. "That's usually the way it is in this game, you just need to get some confidence. Usually when you throw pitches where you don't mean to throw them it's going to affect your confidence. When your on those pitches get fouled off, when your not they get hit in the gaps.

"He can go out and dominate a ballgame and he's proven that against Arizona State, Nebraska and some of the other great teams we have played."

Jones is convinced that the he can regain the form that made him one of Martin's most reliable weapons out of the pen last season and the go-to arm back in January and February. He has worked with pitching coach Jamey Shouppe on spotting his fastball to better compliment his tumbling slider. Mental coaching has helped, too.

"The main thing is that I need to go out there with a clear head and be comfortable," Jones said. "If I can locate my fastball and offspeed pitches, I'll be able to do my job. Our hitting has been hot lately so hopefully we can keep that up."

To have another dependable starter would be a huge asset for the Seminoles, currently second in the ACC standings. FSU hosts always tough Georgia Tech this weekend before tough road trips to upstart Clemson and conference-leading Virginia.

"We know we need to pick it up in the win column, especially with some big games left," Jones said. "We're fired up already."

The game can be seen statewide on Sunshine network and the first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.

SIGN STEALING IN THE PAST
Martin and FSU may also be fired up after dropping two of three at Miami last weekend. In Saturday's game Martin accused Miami coach Jim Morris' staff of relaying signs seen the Sunshine television feed to hitters using walkie-talkies.

Junior catcher Aaron Cheesman says that's behind him and his teammates.

"The whole situation is a joke," Cheesman said. "To be honest with you I don't care. If this was the big leagues and someone knew you were stealing signs, you'd probably get a 95-mph fastball to the head. In college it's different. There's probably sign stealing going on with technology all over the place. Its over with and we wont have to deal with them until next year."

Martin, whose tirade delayed the game 15 minutes Saturday, confirmed that the ACC is looking into the matter.

Nole Digest Top Stories