Mike Martin has coached Florida State for 33 seasons and never began any of them with more questions about his team than this year.
The 68-year-old Seminoles skipper replaced longtime pitching coach Jamey Shouppe after the 2011 campaign and rebuilt the team's pitching staff around freshmen Brandon Leibrandt and Mike Compton.
New pitching coach Mike Bell and Martin agreed the two newcomers were too hard to ignore.
"We didn't make the decision to go with them until we were in the middle of the spring," Martin said. "Those two guys are the most impressive pitchers that we've got."
They outperformed just about anyone's wildest hopes with a combined 19-4 log heading into this weekend's best-of-three NCAA super regional, the winner of which advances to the College World Series. The Seminoles (46-15), the No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament, play host to Stanford (41-16), with the opening game Friday night.
In last weekend's four-team regional, Leibrandt went eight scoreless innings and Compton allowed just one earned run in six innings as they each notched wins over a hard-hitting Samford club to propel the Seminoles to their fifth-straight super regional.
"The key has been their composure," Martin said. "They've shown great poise and the ability to go to the next pitch and not dwell on the error made behind them or a home run that was hit."
Martin said Bell deserves a lion's share of the credit for the rapid development of the young pitchers.
Compton, who is from Branson, Mo., came to a Florida State baseball camp over the Christmas holidays during his junior year in high school and immediately caught Martin's eye.
"I'd never heard of him," Martin said. "He just showed up. I noticed that he throws a really heavy ball and we started recruiting him."
Compton (11-2, 2.78) and Leibrandt (8-2, 2.65) baffled Samford during the regional. Leibrandt, son of former big league pitcher Charlie Leibrandt, fanned 10 and scattered three singles in eight scoreless innings while Compton allowed just one earned run in the tournament clincher.
Leibrandt, a lefty like his dad, benefits from the big league lineage, Martin said.
"He was taught that this game is what it is," Martin said. "He doesn't get frustrated when things don't go right for him. That's the key to being a good pitcher."
The two youngsters just need to keep their team in the game since they have one of the college game's top finishers on standby.
The Seminoles' lights-out closer, Robert Beinincasa (4-1, 1.29), pitched the ninth in both games and now has 15 saves. He's fanned 48 in 29 innings.
Florida State (46-15) hosts the best-of-three tournament starting Friday against a Stanford (41-16) and its hard-throwing ace, Mark Appel (10-1).
"Stanford is one of the best teams with some of the best players in the country," Martin said Tuesday. "That's what you expect at this time of the year."
Leibrandt, who is coming off the best game of his college career, will face Appel in Friday's opener.
"I'm hoping to capitalize on it in the next game," said Leibrandt, who relies on guile and control more than the overpowering fastball in the Appel arsenal.
"It's up to the offense to take care of him," Leibrandt said. "I'll just try and do what I can against their batters."