May 13, 2009
#14 Georgia Tech Hosts Atlanta Regional In NCAA Tournament
For the first time in school history, Georgia Tech (43-13) has earned a number one seed and will host a regional.
Tech, the ACC regular season and tournament champion, is the No. 14 national seed and will host the Atlanta Regional along with Iowa (42-14), Auburn (29-27) and Boston University (41-16).
No. 2 Iowa and No. 3 Auburn will play in the first game of the Atlanta Regional on Friday at 5 p.m. The Yellow Jackets and No. 4 Boston University square off at 7:30 p.m. in the double-elimination format.
The winner of the Atlanta Regional will match up with the winner of the Amherst (Mass.) Regional in the Super Regionals with a trip to the Women’s College World Series on the line.
No. 3 Washington is the top seed in the Amherst Regional along with No. 2 Massachusetts, No. 3 Cornell and No. 4 Sacred Heart.
Live stats for all games from the Atlanta Regional will be available at www.ramblinwreck.com, while audio for all Georgia Tech games will be provided as well.
Tech At The NCAA Tournament
Georgia Tech is 13-14 (.481) all-time in NCAA Tournament play (see chart on page 5 for complete results) and 2-4 (.333) under 2009 ACC Coach of the Year Sharon Perkins.
The Jackets have won at least one game in each of their seven prior trips. They’ve never advanced out of a regional, but have won their first game five out of seven times.
This also marks the eighth straight year that the Yellow Jackets have advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Prior to 2002, Tech had never made it to a regional, but have been a fixture ever since.
This is the first time that the Yellow Jackets have been a No. 1 seed in a regional. Since the NCAA changed from an eight-team regional to a four-team one in 2005, the Jackets have been a two seed twice (2006, 2007), a three seed (2005) and a four seed (2008).
Scouting Iowa Iowa (42-14) is the No. 2 seed in the Atlanta Regional after earning an at-large bid. The Hawkeyes finished fourth in the Big Ten this season.
Iowa is 31-31 in NCAA Tournament games, including a 26-23 mark in NCAA Regional contests. This marks the ninth time in the last 10 seasons the Hawkeyes have competed in the NCAA Tournament, and the 16th time overall.
The Hawkeyes have advanced to the Women’s College World Series four times (1995, 1996, 1997, 2001).
Iowa is led offensively by Colleen McGlaughlin. She is batting .360 with 14 doubles, 10 home runs and 49 RBI. Katie Brown is at .357 with 12 doubles and seven home runs, while Liz Watkins owns a .331 average with nine home runs and 45 RBI.
As a team, Iowa is hitting .291 with 37 home runs and 78 stolen bases.
In the circle, Brittany Weil is 26-10 with a 1.06 ERA and 328 strikeouts in 236.2 innings pitched. She has 14 shutouts this season and is holding opponents to a .133 batting average.
Tech vs. Iowa
Georgia Tech owns a 2-0 all-time record against the University of Iowa. The Yellow Jackets last defeated the Hawkeyes, 6-0, on March 4, 2007, in the Buzz Classic. Jen Yee and Whitney Haller combined to go 4-for-7 with three runs scored and a RBI.
Auburn comes to Atlanta with a 29-27 record and was one of nine SEC teams to earn a bid into the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers finished fourth in the SEC West Division this year.
This is the second consecutive season the Tigers have earned a trip to NCAA Regional play and the fifth time in the last six seasons.
Auburn is 4-10 (.400) in NCAA Tournament play.
The Tigers are hitting .239 as a team with 31 home runs and 67 stolen bases.
Myesha Finney leads Auburn offensively with a .324 batting average, nine doubles, seven home runs and 24 RBI.
In the circle, Anna Thompson is 14-15 with a 2.16 ERA. She has 255 strikeouts in 188.1 innings and opponents are batting .176 off her.
Tech vs. Auburn
Georgia Tech and Auburn have each won four games in this eight-game series thus far, but this is the first time they have ever met in postseason play.
Auburn won the last meeting, 3-2, last season in the NFCA Leadoff Classic. In that game on Feb. 29, 2008, Auburn scored three runs without having a ball leave the infield in the bottom of the fourth inning and hung on for the win.
Thompson struck out 10 Yellow Jackets and allowed two runs on five hits for the win. Whitney Haller hit a home run for the Yellow Jackets in the game.
Scouting Boston University
Boston University will make the trek south to Atlanta after winning the America East Tournament last weekend. This is the fourth time the Terriers have advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
BU is hitting .280 as a team with 40 home runs and 92 stolen bases. It is led by April Setterlund who is hitting .405 with seven home runs and 26 RBI.
Cassidi Hardy is the ace of the pitching staff and owns a 25-5 record with a 1.40 ERA. She has 171 strikeouts in 210 innings pitched, while opponents are batting .188 against her.
Tech vs. Boston University
Georgia Tech is 2-1 all-time against Boston University. The last time these two teams met was March 10, 2006, a 9-1 win in five innings for the Yellow Jackets at the USF Invitational in Clearwater, Fla.
Yellow Jackets Win Third ACC Championship
In the first year of a single-elimination format, Georgia Tech reeled off three wins in three days to claim the 2009 ACC Championship. Tech beat Virginia (7-0), Virginia Tech (14-4) and the No. 16/22 Florida State in the championship game, 3-1.
Tech is now 3-3 all-time in ACC championship games, also winning the title in 2002 and 2005.
Tournament MVP Kristen Adkins went 2-0 in the circle with a 0.54 ERA for the Jackets, but freshman pitcher Jessica Coan might have turned in the best pitching performance. After Tiffany Johnson gave up a first-inning grand slam to Virginia Tech, Coan pitched 6.2 scoreless innings and allowed only three hits as the Jacket bats exploded for 14 unanswered runs.
In the championship game, the Yellow Jackets had a 3-0 lead heading to the seventh inning when Florida State mounted a furious comeback. The Seminoles had a run in and the bases loaded with just one out when FSU’s Kaleigh Rafter hit into the game-ending double play. Rafter hit a pop up into centerfield which was caught by senior Blair Shimandle. Shimandle loaded up and gunned Brittany Joseph down at the plate to end the game as sophomore catcher Jessica Weaver applied the tag.
Whitney Haller led the Yellow Jackets at the plate as she hit .545 (6-11) on the weekend with a double, home run and three RBI. Shimandle batted .429 with two runs scored and two RBI, while Jen Yee hit .417 (5-12) with three runs scored, two doubles and four RBI. In addition, Kelsi Weseman batted .333 and had two home runs and five RBI.
Haller, Yee, Weseman and Shimandle all joined Adkins on the All-Tournament team for Tech.
Climbing the Rankings
After receiving votes for most of the season, Tech cracked the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll at No. 24 on March 31 and has been steadily climbing since then.
That March 31 poll was the first time that Tech had been ranked since the 2008 preseason top 25.
This week, the Yellow Jackets are up to No. 14 as they have been in the poll for seven straight weeks now.
In the NFCA/USA Today poll, the Jackets are 17th this week after breaking in three weeks ago. The Yellow Jackets are behind ACC foes North Carolina (15) and Florida State (16) despite owning a 6-1 record against them this year.
So Close To A Perfect ACC Season
The Yellow Jackets won a school record 17 league games, but could have easily been 20-0 in 2009.
All three of Tech’s ACC losses were by one run and each time, the opponent plated the winning run in its final at bat.
Georgia Tech lost to both Virginia Tech (3-2, March 22) and Boston College (1-0, April 4) on walk-off singles. The Jackets also lost to Florida State 5-4 in eight innings on March 29.
In that game against the Seminoles, Tech scored three runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to force the extra frames.
Perkins Is ACC Coach of the Year
Last week, Sharon Perkins became the fourth Georgia Tech coach to win ACC Coach of the Year. Perkins led the Jackets to just their second ACC regular season title and third tournament championship.
Perkins joins Ehren Earleywine (2005), Kate Madden (2002) and Regina Tomaselli (1995) as the other ACC coaches of the Year from Georgia Tech.
Perkins, who won her 100th career game on March 8 of this season in the championship game of the Buzz Classic, is now 129-60 (.683) in her third season in Atlanta.
Perkins came to Tech after being an associate head coach and assistant coach at Georgia. Since taking over the reigns at Tech, Perkins is 4-1 against UGA. Before Perkins came to Tech, the program had beaten the arch-rival Bulldogs just five times.
Two Outs? No Problem
Just because there are two outs, doesn’t mean the Yellow Jackets are done scoring for the inning. Of Tech’s ACC-leading 311 RBI, 135 (44 percent) have occurred after there were two outs in an inning.
Kelsi Weseman leads the way with 24 two-out RBI, half of her 48 on the season. She is hitting .423 (22-for-52) in that situation this season.
Kristen Adkins has 20, two-out RBI, while Whitney Haller has knocked in 18. Jen Yee is leading the way with a .500 (25-for-50) two-out average.
Six of the Yellow Jackets’ nine regular starters are hitting over .300 with two outs in an inning. As a team, Tech is batting .304 (151-for-496) in this situation.
Switch At The Top Just What The Doctor Ordered
Head Coach Sharon Perkins has tinkered with the top of the lineup for most of the season, but her latest change paid instant dividends.
Redshirt junior Jen Yee was moved to the leadoff spot for the Yellow Jackets’ game at No. 7/9 Georgia, trading places with senior Blair Shimandle.
A career .321 hitter, Shimandle had been in a mild slump until the switch and saw her average dip to .260 as a result.
After a series at Virginia where she hit .910 (10-for-11), Shimandle has been on fire and is now batting .316 with 40 runs scored and 22 RBI.
Yee, meanwhile, is hitting at a .410 clip with an on-base percentage of .534 and 59 runs scored.
Haller Is Now Tech, ACC Home Run And RBI Queen
Senior Whitney Haller came into the season needing just one home run for the ACC record, and she wasted no time in taking care of business on opening day, Feb. 7. Haller took Georgia State pitcher Madi Gore deep on the fourth pitch of her at bat in the top of the first inning for her 50th career home run, surpassing NC State’s Jen Chamberlin.
For good measure, Haller added a three-run home run later in the game for her fourth career two-homer game; all this in the first game of the season.
With a three-RBI game at Kennesaw State on Feb. 25, Haller became the school and ACC leader in RBI as well as she passed former teammate Savannah Brown.
Haller is currently tied with former UCLA stand-out Tairia Mims for 13th-place all-time in NCAA history with 61 home runs.
In addition, her 232 career RBI are 12th-best all-time.
Haller Finishing Like She Began
Marietta, Ga., native Whitney Haller burst onto the scene in 2006 by hitting .393 and added ACC single-season records of 24 home runs and 72 RBI en route to Freshman of the Year honors. She also hit .372 with 15 dingers and 67 more RBI as a sophomore, but had an “off-season” by her standards as a junior.
In 2009, the recent recipient of an ACC Postgraduate Scholarship is back to her form. She has hit safely in all but 11 games this year and is third on the team and fourth in the ACC with a .400 batting average. She has 12 home runs, which is tied for first in the ACC, and a league-high 54 RBI as well as a 1.162 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage.
Haller earned first team All-ACC honors this year and joined Laura Williams (1994-97) as the only four-time All-ACC members in school history.
She was also recently named to the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA first team Academic All-District and will now go on the national ballot to be an Academic All-American. She is a two-time Academic All-American (2007, 2008).
Weseman Is ACC Freshman of the Year
Freshman Kelsi Weseman knew she had big shoes to fill replacing All-American shortstop Aileen Morales, but the Hutto, Texas native has fit right in.
Weseman has started all 56 games at shortstop and is second on the team and third in the ACC batting .406 with a 1.213 OPS.
Weseman became the first Yellow Jacket since Whitney Haller in 2006 to be named ACC Freshman of the Year. She was also a first team All-ACC pick and All-Tournament team selection after hitting two home runs and five RBI during Tech’s run to the 2009 title.
Weseman also has 15 doubles (second in ACC), two triples (tied for seventh), nine home runs (eighth), 48 RBI (second) and 63 hits (fifth).
She has reached base safely in all but six games this season, while scoring 45 runs (second in the ACC) and striking out just 17 times.
Weseman has an on-base percentage of .510 (second in the ACC) and don’t say she’s not afraid to take one for the team as she currently ranks 25th in the nation after getting hit by a pitch 16 times.
Yee Is An On-Base Machine
Redshirt junior Jen Yee was one of 50 players named to the USA Softball Player of the Year Watch List earlier this year. While she didn’t make the cut down to 25 which was announced in early April, she has certainly made her presence felt in the lineup this season.
Yee’s name can be found all over the ACC leaders this season as she is second in batting (.410), tied for third in hits (66), first in runs scored (59), tied for first in home runs (12), first in doubles (16), tied for seventh in triples (2), tied for eighth in RBI (38), first in total bases (122), first in walks (39), first in on-base percentage (.534) and tied for first in slugging percentage (.758).
Yee has struck out just 11 times all season and four of her team-high 39 walks have been intentional, although more than a dozen have been “unintentional, intentional walks”.
Yee has come around to score 54 percent of the time she reaches base, 59 times in 110 chances. In addition, she has just three errors at second base in 181 chances.
Tightening Up The Defense
Georgia Tech is on its way to shattering the school record for fewest errors in a season. In 2003, the Jackets committed just 50 errors but have only 37 through 56 games this season.
Tech is currently first in the ACC and sixth in the nation with a .976 fielding percentage.
Since Sharon Perkins arrived in Atlanta, she has stressed the fact that defense wins championships, and the numbers back it up. In 2006, the year before Perkins took the Tech job, the Jackets committed 94 errors.
The Yellow Jackets made just 56 errors in each of Perkins’ first two seasons and have only half of that so far in 2009.
What’s even more impressive this season is that Tech’s pitchers have only 322 strikeouts in 363.2 innings which means a lot of balls are put in play. Kristen Adkins, for example, is a drop ball pitcher and more than 70 percent of the outs she has recorded are ground balls.
The right side of Tech’s infield has committed just six errors combined as second baseman Jen Yee and first baseman Whitney Haller have only three apiece.
Despite committing her first error in over two and a half years against Virginia Tech, center fielder Blair Shimandle anchors an outfield that has seen the three starters combine for just two errors. Left field Christy Jones and Shimandle have one each, while right fielder Jessica Sinclair has not committed an error.
Johnson, Adkins Provide 1-2 Punch In The Circle …
Sophomore Kristen Adkins, who transferred from the University of Florida, has been the work horse so far for the Georgia Tech pitching staff.
Adkins is currently 23-7 with a team-best 1.53 ERA. She currently ranks fifth in the ACC in ERA and is second in wins. Adkins has held opponents to a .241 batting average while picking up five solo shutouts.
She was named MVP of the 2009 ACC Softball Championship and was a second team All-ACC selection as well.
The McKinney, Texas, native is at her best when getting ground balls and quick innings, but recorded a career-high nine strikeouts in the March 28 win over No. 19 Florida State. It was a gutsy start that saw her throw 158 pitches, but give the Jackets a much-needed win to open up the crucial series at Mewborn Field.
In ACC-only games, Adkins was 11-3 with a 1.38 ERA. The 11 wins were two more than any other pitcher in league play.
Throw in the two starts she had in the ACC Tournament, and Adkins was 13-3 with a 1.09 ERA against ACC foes this year.
Johnson, meanwhile, is 14-3 this season with a 1.92 ERA. She has five shutouts and 138 strikeouts in 127.1 innings pitched and has held opponents to a .170 batting average, which is third-best in the ACC.
Johnson just threw a perfect game at Maryland (May 2) in the regular season finale to help Tech clinch the ACC regular season title. She had nine strikeouts and threw just 61 pitches (43 for strikes), while going to a three-ball count on only one batter.
The last no-hitter in Georgia Tech history was a combined one between Johnson and Sarah Wood in an 11-1 win over Lipscomb on March 3, 2007. The last perfect game in Yellow Jacket history was hurled by Jessica Sallinger against Florida State on March 26, 2005.
Like Adkins, Johnson was a second team All-ACC pick. It was her first all-conference citation.
… And At The Plate
Johnson and Adkins are not limited to just pitching duties. They have quickly become two of Tech’s most consistent hitters.
A career .147 hitter heading into this season, Johnson is currently batting .293 with 40 runs scored (tied for fifth in ACC), 13 doubles (tied for third), 11 home runs (tied for fourth) and 47 RBI (third). Several of her home runs have been tape measure shots, but she has not gone deep since March 28 against Florida State, a span of 67 at bats.
The Atlanta native did not have a home run in her Tech career heading into 2009, but took Georgia State’s Madi Gore deep on opening day in her first at bat of the season.
Adkins, meanwhile, was batting .115 with no home runs or RBI heading into the March 10 home opener against UT Martin.
She hit the game-winning, two-run home run in game one that day and has been on fire since then.
Adkins now has eight round-trippers, tied for ninth in the ACC, while her 36 RBI are 10th-best.
Four of her home runs (Tennessee-Martin, NC State, Boston College and North Carolina) have been game-winners and all but the one against BC came in the fifth inning or later.
In the 22 games at Mewborn Field, Adkins is a .365 hitter with seven home runs and 23 RBI.
As The Weather Heats Up, So Do The Bats
Look at the team leaders in offense for most ACC categories and you will find the Yellow Jackets at or near the top throughout.
The Yellow Jackets currently rank first in the ACC and 16th nationally in batting average (.312), first and sixth in fielding percentage (.976), first and 12th in slugging percentage (.509), first and 26th in doubles (82) and first and 14th in home runs (64).
Tech is also first in the ACC in on-base percentage (.403), runs (339), hits (460) and RBI (311).
Bombs Away At The Mew
Georgia Tech hitters have had no problem adjusting to its new stadium this year and “The Mew” has had trouble keeping balls in the field of play.
The Yellow Jackets and their opponents combined for 48 home runs in 22 games at Mewborn Field this season, an average of 2.2 a game.
Tech hit 30 of them en route to an 18-4 home record. The Jackets batted .308 as a team and out-scored the opposition, 120-56. Tech compiled a .538 slugging percentage and a .389 on-base percentage and committed only 10 errors en route to a .983 fielding percentage.
Whitney Haller led the offense with a .448 batting average at “The Mew.” She had four home runs and 18 RBI. Kelsi Weseman hit at a .397 clip with three home runs and 19 RBI, while Jen Yee hit .368 with seven home runs.
Kristen Adkins certainly found her new surroundings to her liking. At the plate, she had seven of her eight home runs and 23 of her 36 RBI at home. In the circle, Adkins went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA and four shutouts in 13 home appearances.