Things are different for Florida State baseball this year. That being said, the Seminoles hope that with nothing to lose this postseason, more will be gained.
After struggling to find itself for much of the season, a young FSU team is suddenly surging. Winners of 15 of their last 19 and a surprising conference title, the Seminoles are poised and in a familiar position they weren't supposed to be in this year - opening NCAA play as a Regional host.
"We have to realize that anything can happen in this sport," FSU skipper Mike Martin said. "What we have to do is go out on the field and get our jobs done and let our play speak for itself."
What that play has reflected has been somewhat of a puzzle this season. Much has been made of their 20 losses, many in blowout fashion. Box scores, ERA and other columns on the stat sheet have told solemn stories after many games.
"It was frustrating at times," catcher Aaron Cheesman said. "(Earlier in the season) guys were figuring out their roles and I don't think we had completely gelled yet."
But an inexperienced team never gave up. Blowout losses to the casual onlooker can translate differently to parties involved.
Exhibit A, April 10: Against Miami, FSU fell behind 15-4 after the Canes flexed some muscle in an offensive flurry. Fans left as Martin emptied his bullpen. But FSU rallied for seven runs in the last two frames to make the final respectable.
Exhibit B, May 3: Clemson's 16-1 lead after three innings didn't stop the Noles from rallying for seven runs in the top of the fourth.
"I think that says a lot about our character," Cheesman said. "In those games and some others we were out but didn't give up."
As roles became defined, the results followed. Rhett James became the No. 1 starter. Dennis Anderson took over at third and Gibbs Chapman moved to left. Eddy Martinez-Esteve - the ACC's leader in average and homers - is entrenched as the designated hitter.
And the Seminoles are ACC Champions.
"This is undoubtedly the best one," Martin said of the crown.
Proof that sometimes a bitter taste can make success that much sweeter.
TV DEPENDS ON FORTUNES of UF, FSU
Sunshine Network will televise select Florida State baseball games in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday and Sunday. Friday's game between Florida State and Bethune-Cookman will be shown live statewide at 7:00 p.m. The remainder of the schedule will be determined by both Florida State and Florida's advancement through the regionals.
If Florida State plays in the 1:30 p.m. Sunday game, it will be aired live statewide by Sunshine. If FSU plays in a second game on Sunday and Florida plays in the first game on Sunday in Oklahoma City (5:00 p.m.), FSU's game will be televised live only in Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee, Orlando (minus Ocala) and Miami.