May 30, 2008

Boasting a 45-4 record with a 0.78 ERA, Florida's Stacey Nelson is one of the top aces in college softball. Nelson sat down with SIOC's Karl Hyppolite to discuss the upcoming tournament, life in Gainesville, hacky-sacking and the music of Led Zeppelin.

SIOC: Since I'm sure you're tired of answering softball questions, I've got some lighter, more offbeat things to ask you about.

Stacy Nelson: You're not going to ask me any softball questions!

SIOC: Well, actually, I lied. I'm going to have to ask you a few softball questions.

SN: Aww, OK.

SIOC: Your numbers have been ridiculous this season. You're 45-3 with a 0.73 ERA (Editors note -- this interview was conducted before the Gators first-round loss to Louisiana-Lafayette). You were really good last year, but stepped your game up a bit this year. What's been the difference for you?

SN: Honestly, this year I haven't look at the numbers. It's just been a thing of mine that I didn't really want to know my stats. I don't know if it's helped or not. I really think the difference has been just having such immense confidence in my offense that my job isn't as hard as it has been in the past years. These girls are scoring four or five runs a game and I'm getting really comfortable.

SIOC: How big is it for you as a pitcher knowing you're getting that type of support. Last year at the beginning of the year you guys weren't scoring as well as you have this year.

SN: It just gives the pitcher the awareness that you've got some room to work with. Your shoulder starts to feel a little better and you're not as uptight. We were a great team last year, but it's just the difference of a couple runs per game.

SIOC: Is that the only difference between last year and this year? I mean you guys have only lost three games this year.

SN: I think a big part of it is the clutch hitting. We've got Mary Ratliff who's come through many times for us. And not only her but young kids, freshman, juniors. They've all done the job.

SIOC: Off the field I've heard people say you're kind of a hippie, but on the field you're completely different. How do you switch back and forth between being so laid back off the field and intense in the pitching circle?

SN: I don't consciously do it. I step between the lines and I'm just trying to get batters out. I guess I don't do it completely because between pitches I kind of joke with the infield but when I turn around I face that better.

SIOC: What is it that you do that makes people call you a hippie off the field?

SN: I think it's because I'm so carefree. After we lose I'm not like 'oh man, what are we going to do?' I just want to pick up and go to the next game.

SIOC: I think I've heard that you play hacky-sack, is that true?

SN: Yeah, it's a pregame ritual. I've actually gotten another pitcher Stephanie Brombacher to play and some of our training staff into it.

SIOC: What kind of music do you like?

SN: What kind of music do I like? I am a classic rock junkie. I like a little bit of reggae, too and a little bit of the blues. But definitely classic rock is my thing.

SIOC: Who's in your top 5?

SN: Oh, um. I don't know. The Grateful Dead, The Eagles, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac. I don't know, that's hard, there's so many that I love.

SIOC: What's your favorite Led Zepplin song. My favorite is Going to California.

SN: Uh, well. I love Bron-Y-Aur Stomp and Over the Hills and Far Away.

SIOC: How'd you get into that type of music? Did your parents introduce you to it or were you just sick of the radio?

SN: Definitely bored with the radio stuff. One of my ex-boyfriends had Led Zepplin III in his car and that was the first time I really listened to them and fell in love with it.

SIOC: What's your favorite thing to do off the field after you've just pitched a game and just gotten back home?

SN: I really like driving around the back roads of Gainesville. I know that's not very economical right now. But it is one of my favorite things to do.

SIOC: Are you going to have to curb your driving around with the gas prices?

SN: I have. I've had to tell myself it's going to cost me like $20 to drive around. Every once in a while it's a good way to relax when I'm stressed.

SIOC: What's the perfect ending to this season for you? Is it obviously winning a national championship? Or better yet, what's the perfect ending to your career, since you do have one year left?

SN: Whether or not we win the World Series, I think what counts is that I've had so much fun here with the coaches, the girls. Florida. I mean what's not amazing about what the school's done the last few years. I don't think there's a lot that could ruin what I've had here already.

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