Noles Find Pitching Stability

The season-long search for stability in the rotation has ended in the backyard for the Florida State baseball team, which will host regional play for the ninth consecutive season starting Friday.

Sophomore hurlers Michael Hyde and Bryan Henry – both Tallahassee natives – will toe the rubber for the hometown Seminoles (50-18) in the first two contests of the weekend, with Hyde starting the 7 p.m. opener Friday night opposite fourth-seeded Army.

"It's going to be crazy and I just can't wait," said Hyde, the team leader with 94 innings pitched. "I've been in this stadium for regionals as a fan and the atmosphere is amazing. It's hard to imagine what it's going to feel like to be out there."

Henry, a third baseman turned staff ace, must wait until Saturday to tangle with either No. 2 Auburn or No. 3 South Alabama, which will meet in the early game Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. FSU took two of three from Auburn at home earlier this season and defeated South Alabama to claim the 2003 Tallahassee Regional.

FSU coach Mike Martin utilized seven different pitchers in starting roles this season before Hyde and Henry – both transfers from area community colleges – surfaced as his top two options.

In the past week, Hyde (7-2, 4.48) has managed to shake a midseason slump and mastered a changeup that pitching coach Jamey Shouppe insisted he add to his repertoire. Hyde has worked at least five innings in every start this season but two, including a 128-pitch performance in his last outing, a 7-3 victory over Wake Forest in the ACC Tournament.

The rise of Henry (8-2, 1.44) was more unexpected. The starter at third to begin the season, the former class 2A player of the year at Florida High impressed Martin enough in relief stints to gain a more substantial role. The move paid immediate dividends and Henry is the owner of the fourth-lowest ERA in the nation and a first-team all-ACC selection.

"What Bryan is doing brings out the competitiveness in his teammates to match his success," Martin said. "This young man is very poised. He enjoys competing. When all the other pitchers go inside [after practice], Bryan is out there running the bases with the rest of the team because he knows he is playing third next time out."

The son of a local sports journalist, Henry is also no stranger to postseason play at Dick Howser stadium. Watching FSU teams of the past featuring names such as J.D. Drew, Doug Mientkiewicz and John Ford-Griffin, Henry admits dreaming of the chance to help the Seminoles to NCAA tournament glory.

"This season has been unbelievable; I'm not sure this has all sunk in yet," Henry said. "Right now I have been making an effort to focus on our goals and not let things go to my head."

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