Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FSU Begins Title Quest with Ace Back on Track

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FSU Begins Title Quest with Ace Back on Track

Article excerpt

Byline: Daniel Mitchell, Times-Union correspondent

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida State's Leslie Malerich won't have to look far for advice on pitching in the Women's College World Series. Seminoles pitching coach Heather Compton has been there, done that.

Malerich is a senior with a 33-12 record and All-American credentials but, like her teammates, will be playing in her first WCWS starting today in Oklahoma City. That's where Compton comes in.

Compton, in her third year on FSU's staff, pitched in four series as a UCLA Bruin from 1990-93. As a freshman she was the winning pitcher in the national title game, and she helped UCLA win it all again in 1992.

Coincidentally, eighth-seeded FSU (53-18) drew top-seeded and top-ranked UCLA (54-7) in today's first round. Compton's presence may make the task at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium slightly less daunting.

"It's an amazing feeling, but the thing is, if the girls understand, it's no different there than it is [at home]," Compton said. "It's just another day at the park. If they treat it different, they won't play up to their potential. You've got to do what you did to get there, and if you try to change things, you'll fail."

That bit of advice flies in the face of Compton's Sunday experiment with Malerich. With FSU needing to win three NCAA regional games to advance, Compton tinkered with Malerich's mechanics during warmups.

Video analysis of Malerich's recent performances, which had been subpar, revealed "she was pitching too tight and muscling the ball," Compton said. "I needed her to loosen up, so I changed the beginning of her motion.

"That's something pretty much I would say I'm against, because you don't want to mess somebody up before a big day like that. But it wasn't working, what she was doing before, and it had been going on for the last month or three weeks."

The result: complete-game victories over Tennessee-Chattanooga and Georgia Tech (twice), in which Malerich allowed just two earned runs despite throwing 320 pitches. …

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