A Q&A with Head Coach Sharon Perkins

Feb. 2, 2007

The Georgia Tech softball team will open the 2007 season on Saturday, Feb. 10, against Georgia Southern. The home doubleheader will begin at 1 p.m. at Glenn Field.

Head Coach Sharon Perkins sat down and discussed the outlook of the upcoming season for the Yellow Jackets.

How has the transition been for you here at Georgia Tech?
The transition has been an easy one. The student-athletes have gone above and beyond all that has been asked of them. They have worked so hard and continue to develop. It has also been a smooth transition because of the hard work and support Todd (Downes) and Yolanda (McCrae) bring each day. I am so lucky and blessed to come here each day and work with the players, coaches and the support staff. As I said when I took this job, this is a program that has experienced success — I just want to build on what they have already done. The support from the administration has been awesome. It is also special to watch the academic and career opportunities that our female student-athletes have access to, they are incredible. We are just ready to get out there on the field and compete.

With 12 lettewinners returning, seven starters and three pitchers, what are your expectations in your first season as head coach?
I expect that this team will leave everything out on the field each time they have an opportunity to play. The outcome is really out of our hands, but if we control our business and give our maximum effort with a great attitude, things will fall into place. This team and this institution is what made me want to come here. There are great players on this team, but more importantly, we have a roster full of great people who you can rely on at all times.

Being your first year in the ACC, what have you heard about the conference and what do you expect on a weekend-to-weekend basis?
The ACC has always been a strong conference and it is a conference I have always had respect for as a player and a coach. Florida State, with the leadership of Coach (JoAnne) Graf, is obviously the program that has been filled with tradition and has an amazing history of success — but just look where the programs have come over the past few years. Georgia Tech, FSU and NC State have all won the ACC regular season in the past three seasons. This year, it is completely up for grabs. Any team in this league could win the regular season and we could possibly end up with more teams making the postseason than at any point in the history of the league. If you take a look at the RPI, the ACC is always one of the top 3-to-4 conferences in the nation. From top to bottom, any team can be successful, they all have strengths.

Tech was picked fifth in the preaseason ACC Coaches Poll, how does that sit with the you and the team?
You can’t really pay much attention to those types of things. Once February 10 comes a preseason poll is pretty much meaningless. Its fun to look at and see what your peers expect of you. Any team in our league could win the ACC. I don’t think Wake Forest was picked real high at the beginning of the football season and they turned out okay. NC State is the defending champion, Virginia Tech returns one of the best pitchers in the nation, Florida State made super regionals last year and North Carolina is always tough. Maryland has new talent blending with what they return, Virginia is going to continue to get better with Karen (Johns) and her staff as will Boston College.

Tech has three conference Rookies of the Year from 2006, Whitney Haller (ACC), Tiffany Johnson (MEAC) and Jennifer Yee (MAAC), how much does that mean to the lineup after losing two big-time players in Amy Hosier and Christine Sheridan?
Jennifer and Tiffany have been great additions to the program. They are both sound defensively and will be successful in the batter’s box as well. Tiffany also gives us more depth in the pitching circle, which is great due to the number of games that we play throughout the season. Whitney’s performance last year really speaks for itself. She’s a great representative for Georgia Tech and all that we stand for. But, as we have told them, last year was last year. I have been blown away by all of the players this fall and in early spring an are excited to see them in action next weekend.

Talk about the seniors, Kristina Hull, Daisy Paez, Caitlin Lever and Sarah Wood, and what their leadership roles are for this team?
We have a great group of seniors and from past experience, it makes a big difference in the season. They all have great leadership skills, but lead in different ways both on and off the field. Kristina is the hardest worker in the weight room and she also organizes team functions. Daisy always steps up and is willing to help out wherever necessary. Caitlin is the best day-to-day player that I have had the opportunity to coach. Her passion for the game is contagious to us all. Sarah is a hard worker that has the ability to make minor adjustments from pitch to pitch and let’s not forget the fact that she makes the best cookies and brownies. 🙂

List some of the goals for Tech for the upcoming 2007 season?
We have high expectations to have a successful season. We feel that as long as we compete together as a team day in and day out, we will get the outcome that we want. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, we need to play our game every day that we step foot onto the field. Our goals are to win the ACC, advance to postseason and get to the World Series to compete for a National Championship.

How would you rate the schedule this year with 10 preseason top 35 opponents and how does that prepare you for conference and postseason play?
The schedule has some really good opportunities to prepare us for play in May, where it matters most. We will continue each year to add strong opponents to our schedule to make sure we face the types of teams that will prepare us for the NCAA Tournament. Some of the best teams I have ever been associated with have taken their lumps in February only to shine in May. What you do, win or lose, in February doesn’t matter at all if you can’t utilize what you have learned to succeed in postseason.

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