Malone Back to Form

The season now past its midpoint, first baseman-turned-utility man Ryne Malone is experiencing a renaissance. The sophomore has finally returned to the form that made him one of the biggest threats in the FSU lineup as a freshman last season.


Over the past two weeks, Malone has shaken a season-long slump and now holds arguably the hottest bat in Mike Martin's lineup. Over the weekend, Malone went 4-for-9 and drew the game winning walk in Saturday's game as the Seminoles took two of three from Wake Forest to improve to 32-8 (9-3 ACC).

FSU plays at Jacksonville Wednesday. When the two teams met last week in Tallahassee, Malone discarded his slump for good, going 3-for-4 with long homer.

"Pitch selection is the main thing," said Malone, who is now hitting .293 and is second on the team with 60 total bases.

"You'll notice that now I'm hitting strikes instead of swinging at balls in the dirt. I'm getting there. I've been getting after it in the cage."

Not bad for a guy who was once mired in a 2-for-35 slump that sent him to the bench in favor of Danny Wardell.

Bryan Henry's emergence on the mound and Gibbs Chapman's slight groin pull gave Malone an almost immediate chance to atone. Playing third, left and first, Malone has reached in 11 straight contests.

"(Moving around) keeps the game exciting, I guess," said Malone, a Gainesville native who was recruited as a shortstop. "The first time I played in the outfield was when I got to the park (against JU) last week. I have to do whatever I can to help the ballclub."

"We've been busting it hard the last few weeks in the cage. We know that, with the kind of pitching that have in this league, were going to score maybe three, four, five runs a game so each one we can get is important."

It appears that Malone's temporary home for now will be in left while Chapman heals up. Then, says Martin, there will be enough at bats to spread between Henry, Wardell and Malone at the infield corners. The Seminole skipper is just happy to have his slugger back.

"We're very happy to see him pick it up out there," Martin said. "Confidence was the main thing. Now that he's seeing the ball well and swinging the bat well, that's back for him."

MURDERER'S ROW

After Wednesday's game against the Dolphins, the Seminoles have three-game road sets at No.4 Georgia Tech and No.12 Miami on consecutive weekends with a midweek game against No.7 Florida in between. May 13-15, FSU will host No. 8 North Carolina for three.

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