Uneasy trend

Following Monday's disappointing defeat to Notre Dame in the NCAA Super Regional finale, the Seminoles have failed to reach the CWS in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1981-85. As recruiting coordinator, Jamey Shouppe said it's his responsibility to reverse that trend. "That bothers me. That's got to change. We don't need to be going two years without going (to CWS). That can be a direct reflection of me as the recruiting coordinator," Shouppe said.

A dejected Jamey Shouppe swallowed the final few bites of a sandwich as he leaned back in his chair Monday afternoon.

He had a far more difficult time swallowing what had transpired 30 minutes earlier at Dick Howser Stadium -- No. 11 Notre Dame stunned top-ranked Florida State 3-1 in the NCAA Super Regional final to advance to the College World Series. After losing in Super Regional play last year at Georgia, the Seminoles (60-13) have failed to reach the CWS in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1981-85. It also marks the first time since 1993 that a Florida team hasn't made it to the CWS.

The Irish (48-16), meanwhile, are returning to the series for the first time since 1957. Notre Dame opens against eight-seeded Stanford.

As FSU's recruiting coordinator, a determined Shouppe said the Seminoles' must stop their CWS-less drought. FSU must replace seven starters, including pitcher Blair Varnes, first baseman Ryan Barthelemy and outfielder Nick Rogers, in addition to possibly pitchers Matt Lynch and Robby Read. Both juniors were selected earlier this week in the major-league amateur draft.

"The reason is hurts so bad for me and the coaches, it starts a streak, so to speak," Shouppe said.

"It's the first time since '93 that we've gone two consecutive years without going to the College World Series. That's what hurts me as a recruiting coordinator, more so than as a pitching coach. That bothers me. That's got to change. We don't need to be going two years without going (to CWS). That can be a direct reflection of me as the recruiting coordinator. That's got to change. We got to be able to get the job done. It all starts with recruiting."

Making matters worse, FSU was shut down by Irish freshman pitcher Chris Niesel, a 2001 Baseball America All-American from St. Thomas Aquinas in Plantation, Fla. Niesel surrendered just six hits and fanned five in eight innings, his longest outing of the season. If you are looking for more irony, Niesel's father -- Rudy Niesel -- is a 1973 graduate of FSU. He nervously videotaped the entire game from his seat among the Irish fans.

Shouppe smiled and said he wished he had recruited Niesel, Broward County's 4A-5A-6A Pitcher of the Year and Florida's 4A-5A-6A Player of the Year last season. He was 27-5 in high school, including 13-0 with a 0.35 earned-run average as a senior. Niesel held the top of FSU's lineup -- Stephen Drew, Tony McQuade, and Ryan Barthelemy – to a combined 0-for-9.

"No, I did not recruit him," Shouppe said of Niesel. "I knew nothing about him. From St. Thomas (in Fort Lauderdale). Apparently, he had gone to their camp (Notre Dame) when he was 13 or 14 year old and they kept an eye on him. But, no, I didn't know him. I wish I would have."

Shouppe also was impressed from another effort, that one from FSU starter Marc LaMacchia. The sophomore took the loss despite pitching 6.1 innings in a strong outing, scattering six hits while striking out two and walking a pair. The Irish had posted 15-plus hits in all five of their NCAA Tournament games and entered with a .452 average in postseason play.

"He got back to his old habit to start with it -- the first three or four games he was only throwing his changeup for a strike and wasn't hitting with his fastball -- that could have cost him a couple runs possibly but he threw well," Shouppe said.

"It wasn't about until the fourth inning when he started staying back and throwing like he is capable of throwing. For him, it was obviously a breakthrough season for him. He showed a lot of maturity. If Lynch signs, he establishes himself as our No. 1, our ace, coming into next year. I just hate it happened in his last game, which was a loss, but he threw well enough to win. That's just baseball.

"They made some plays. They just beat us. They deserve to beat us. They beat us in our own yard. They were better than we were this weekend."


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