Regional Notes and Quotes

No. 1 seed Florida State is back home and feeling good about itself. The Seminoles feature crafty senior leadership and impact newcomers. Good friends and brothers could also tangle in regional play this weekend. And let's not forget that FSU's pitching staff is refreshed and relaxed. "I've been to Omaha and that was the best experience of my life, and I don't want to do anything else but go back and try to win the national championship," Blair McCaleb said.

Florida State coach Mike Martin has credited the Seminoles' senior leadership for its success this season. FSU enters the NCAA Tournament this weekend with the No. 1 national seed after stringing together 22 victories and winning the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season ad tournament titles.

Only two No. 1 seed teams -- Cal State-Fullerton and Miami -- have won the national title since the NCAA began seeding teams for either the College World Series in 1988, and then for regionals in 1999.

FSU (56-12), which opens regional play Friday against fourth-seeded Stetson (42-17) at Dick Howser Stadium, refuses to worry about any burden the No. 1 national seed carries. Simply that's the Seminoles' approach, thanks in large part to their seven seniors -- Mike Futrell, Scott Toole, Blair Varnes, Nick Rogers, Ryan Barthelemy, Richie Smith and Blair McCaleb.

"It's just the confidence," Varnes said. "This time of year you have to step it up, and everybody knows that and so far everybody has done that. Just take it upon yourself to do your job when you are out there and that's what everyone has done."

In fact, Varnes downplays the impact of the Seminoles' senior class.

"I really haven't done anything different, I don't think," Varnes said and smiled.. "You want to go out there when you are out there and do your job. Root the young guys. We have so many seniors -- show it on the field and keep things in order in the clubhouse. All and all, we haven't done too much different. Maybe Bart and them have done something behind my back (laughing). I am going to have to ask them."

Varnes and others say the key to the team's success has actually been its camaraderie.

"We have a little country boy in Dirt (Stephen Drew) and you have a Miami boy in Bart," Varnes said. "Everyone clicking and having a good time. I've noticed on all the bus trips, everybody has gotten along and hanging out. In years past, when you got home you usually didn't talk to anyone on the team. This year I talk to a different person (every day). And it seems like I sit next to a different person each time on the bus. There used to be clicks. ... everyone is good friends."

Naturally, FSU's senior class wants to keep the fun going. Lose, and the group's career is headed for the record books.

"I'd love to keep this thing rolling, through regionals, super regionals and into Omaha," McCaleb said. "I've been to Omaha and that was the best experience of my life, and I don't want to do anything else but go back and try to win the national championship."

AT FULL STRENGTH: Rogers, who blends power with speed, plans to be in the lineup this weekend after missing eight games with a sore right thumb. Rogers, who participated in batting practice Monday, had tried to stay away from live pitching the past few weeks to help his recovery.

"I haven't taken any BP but I've been getting in there and just looking at pitches and just thinking about what I have to do and envisioning hitting the ball," Rogers said. "More mental stuff. A lot of one-handed flips. I am trying to stay as fresh as I can. It's going to be an adjustment. For the past month, I haven't practiced during the week, just hitting on Fridays before the game. I will be ready. I am looking forward to it and I just need to remind myself to be patient."

Rogers is especially looking forward to the regional for another reason -- good friend Wayne Summers, a former teammate of Rogers' at Tallahassee Community College, plays for UCF.

"I am really excited that," Rogers said. "We've been talking about that (playing in a regional together) for a couple of years now."

BROTHERLY LOVE: Central Florida pitcher Nick Whidden (1-2) is a former Seminole. Of course, his brother Chris Whidden is a relief pitcher at FSU this season. The two were teammates at FSU before Nick Whidden decided to transfer. The two brothers will be back together this weekend.

"It's kind of cool, but I kind of wish he was going somewhere else, to tell you the truth," Chris Whidden said. "Because if he went somewhere else I would definitely be rooting for him. But here I have to root for myself (laughing)."

While UCF and FSU may not face off against each other in regional play, Chris wonders what his parents will do if that does happen.

"That's a good question -- I don't know what they are going to do," Whidden said and smiled. "They will be cheering for UCF when UCF is playing and they will be cheering for FSU when we are playing. But if we end up playing against each other, who knows. They don't make any of those split hats do they? (laughing). It should be interesting. "

ARMED AND READY: FSU pitching coach Jamey Shouppe takes a relaxed and refreshed staff into regional play.

The Seminoles received a pair of complete games from starters Matt Lynch and Blair Varnes in last week's Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in St. Petersburg. Additionally, No. 3 starter Marc LaMacchia threw eight innings, his longest outing of the year, in the championship victory over Clemson.

Trent Peterson and Robby Read, who bounced back from a horrible effort in the tourney opener against Duke, also earned victories as Shouppe used eight pitchers overall in the five games. Shouppe said his lone disappointment was not being able to get right-handed closer Kevin Lynch into a game.

"We know what everybody's role is right now," Shouppe said.

"Kevin Lynch wasn't even used in the ACC Tournament," Shouppe said. "We kept saving him and never had a chance to use him. He certainly will fit into things in the regional tournament. He can pitch. Kevin's a very reliable pitcher. Daniel Davidson, those guys are going to be one of the first two guys up. And Daniel Hodges is going to be our closer. That's what we know right now. And now it gets really easier in terms of stress on a pitching staff. That was amazing (ACC Tournament). You had no overuse whatsoever."


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