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FSU pitcher puts Perfection on line
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FSU pitcher puts Perfection on line
Quote:FSU pitcher puts perfection on line

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Perfection may be hard to improve on, but Florida State's chances of getting back to the College World Series for the first time in seven years hinge largely on the right arm of its undefeated star pitcher.

Bryan Henry is 14-0 this season with 13 wins coming on Friday starts, but he's been moved back a day to face Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament Saturday.

The top-seeded Seminoles (47-9) opened the ACC tournament Wednesday with a victory over Wake Forest and play Miami today.

Henry, who picked up his 14th win last Thursday at Georgia Tech, will have nine days rest when he faces a Clemson team that he defeated 11-1 just two weeks ago.

"With the schedule we're playing this year, for him to go undefeated is just mind-boggling," longtime Florida State coach Mike Martin said.

Pitching on at least a week's rest has paid off for the 6-3, 205-pound Henry, who added some gitty-up to his fastball and an improved changeup this year on his way to winning ACC Pitcher of the Year.

"He's made a living on being able to spot his fastball and does that as well as anybody that I've had," Martin said. "I really don't know that I can say anybody that I've had better than he as far as going out there and spotting the fastball."

And while Henry's fastball tops out at roughly 90 mph on radar guns, he does many of the little things that remind his coach of San Diego's Greg Maddux, who has put up Hall of Fame numbers without overpowering stuff.

"He's probably as good a pitcher in that respect, fielding his position, holding the runner, holding the ball longer before he releases it," Martin said. "A gamer."

Henry struck out 107 hitters in 104 innings this spring and has a 2.50 earned run average. And he doesn't help opposing hitters out as evidenced by giving up an average of just two walks per nine innings.

"The biggest difference for me this year is I have confidence in any of my pitches at any time in any situation," said Henry, who concedes he's still working on mastering the changeup.

"It's there for me sometimes, not there another," said Henry, who was recruited as a third baseman after a year in junior college.

Henry, 22, got his chance to pitch at Florida State midway through the 2005 season with three innings of shutout relief work after a series of Seminole pitchers were being hammered at Georgia Tech.

Since then he's gone 32-7 in less than three full seasons and 18-4 in the ACC, including a 9-0 league mark this year.

He was 22-2 as a pitcher in high school. Florida State coaches thought Henry should spend a year in a junior college where he could increase his strength and stamina.

"That was the best thing that ever happened to Bryan," said his father, Jim Henry, a former sportswriter who often had his son in tow at Florida State practices and games.
05-25-2007 10:52 AM
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Big Grin Henry Is Noles' Go-To Guy
Quote:Henry Is Noles' Go-To Guy
By SCOTT CARTER The Tampa Tribune

JACKSONVILLE - The years have flown by since that day in February 1985 when Jim and Dawn Henry's first-born was delivered at St. Joseph's Hospital. Their baby boy has grown into a man, one whose right arm has triggered a constant stream of traffic from Tampa to Tallahassee the past three years.

As Florida State's No. 1 starter, Bryan Henry has done nothing to let down his two sets of grandparents and various aunts, uncles and cousins who make the trek to watch Bryan pitch Friday nights at Dick Howser Stadium.

"It's been a family affair," said Jim Henry. "That's been the best part of it, just being able to watch him fulfill a dream with a group of our family and friends."

In fact, Bryan's Tampa clan never even saw him lose a game his senior season - home or away.

"We have been very, very blessed in having good pitching over the years, but I can't recall anybody going 14-0 and pitching on Friday night," FSU coach Mike Martin said Thursday. "That's a little mind-boggling."

In college baseball, Friday night is when teams usually play the first game of a weekend series. Coaches want to get the weekend off to a good start, so they give the ball to their ace.

Henry (14-0, 2.50 ERA, 107 Ks in 104 1/3 IP) has been that and more for the Noles, who face Miami tonight in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. Henry was originally scheduled to start against the Hurricanes, but Martin, following FSU's 11-2 win against Wake Forest on Wednesday, opted to move Henry back to face Clemson on Saturday. Bloomingdale High product Ryan Strauss will start instead.

Martin figured that if top-seeded FSU (47-9) slips against fifth-seed Miami (35-21), Henry would be on the mound Saturday with a berth in the title game on the line.

"It made all the sense in the world," Martin said. "This team did not leave Tallahassee satisfied with anything less than playing for the conference championship."

And who better to be on the mound with a chance to deliver than the kid who grew up in garnet and gold.

While Bryan was born in Tampa, where his parents attended Leto High and got married 25 years ago this October, he grew up in Tallahassee when his father, a longtime sports writer who now works for a communications company, moved to begin covering FSU athletics for The Tampa Tribune in 1988.

Bryan's love affair with FSU started soon afterward.

"I tagged along everywhere he went," Bryan said. "Football was the big thing. I would always go to the old Moore Athletic Center after practice and sit on Bobby Bowden's lap while he got interviewed. [Sports information director] Rob Wilson would always sneak me ice cream cones.

"That was almost a daily thing. Hang out with Bobby and eat some ice cream."

Martin says he has known Bryan "since he used to toddle around our ballpark." Now, Martin is relying on the ACC Pitcher of the Year to help the Seminoles get back to the College World Series for the first time in seven years.

After spending his freshman season at North Florida Community College, Henry transferred to FSU and put together an impressive resume (18-7, 2.59 ERA) during his first two seasons. Still, he knew he could be better, so he moved in with first-year catcher Buster Posey last summer so the two could get to know each other better.

Henry also added a slider and some velocity to his fastball - he has reached the low 90s on occasion - to become one of the nation's elite pitchers, using pinpoint control to hold batters to a .232 average.

"As good a pitcher as Bryan is, I think anybody could catch him," Posey said. "He hits his spots like nobody I've ever seen before. He's not a hard guy to catch."

While Henry (6-foot-3, 202 pounds) isn't expected to be drafted at the top of June's draft because he is more of a finesse pitcher, some team likely will use a pick on him.

"He's on the radar," Jim said. "They are intrigued by his consistency."

He also realizes his college career is winding down. Before it's done, Henry wants to provide his grandparents and the rest of his Tampa family with something to remember for all that driving the past few years.

"It's been kind of like living a dream right now," Henry said. "It's always been my dream to go here, and then to have a season like we're having right now, it's what we've worked for. It's nice to know all our hard work is paying off.

"But we also know we still have a ways to go."

We LOVE you Bryan Henry 02-13-banana04-rock02-13-banana
05-25-2007 10:59 AM
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