No. 17 Tech Softball Heads To NFCA Leadoff Classic

Feb. 22, 2012

Game Notes

ATLANTA – The No. 17/20 Georgia Tech softball team (7-3) is coming off of a 3-2 week including victories over Furman (4-2 and 8-2) and No. 4 Oklahoma (1-0), and some battles between Tech and SEC powerhouses in No. 2 Alabama (L, 9-12) and Auburn (L, 5-12).

Tech began the week with two victories over Furman and continued its success into the ACC/SEC/Big 12 Challenge. On Friday, Tech battled to the end in one of the toughest doubleheaders of 2012 when the Jackets faced off against No. 2 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma.

The game between the Crimson Tide and the Jackets went down to the final at bat. Tech bounced back right away with tough defense, while Hope Rushhad an outstanding game both on the mound and at the plate. The junior pitcher helped record the lone run of the game on a sac fly to center while also shutting out Oklahoma, the first for the Sooners since April 22, 2011. The loss was the first of the year for Oklahoma.

The Jackets face off Friday in back-to-back games with DePaul and No. 9 Tennessee, starting at 3:30 p.m. Saturday sees Tech take on two teams receiving votes in both polls in UMass at 1 p.m. followed by a game with Mississippi State. Sunday Tech’s concludes tournament play with a 12:30 p.m. meeting against Illinois State.

The NFCA and the City of Clearwater, Fla., have entered into a three-year agreement to sponsor the NFCA Leadoff Classic, a 24-team Division I tournament. The event, which began in 1996 in Columbus, Ga., took a hiatus in 2011 before returning to Clearwater this weekend.

The Competition

DePaul

This Season: DePaul is off to a 6-4 start, earning 3-2 records at its first two tournaments. The Blue Demons started their year off at the Hawai’i Paradise Classic, where they met up with Seattle University and both UMKC and the host team of Hawai’i twice. DePaul’s two losses came at the hands of the home team.

Last weekend, the Blue Demons were at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev., where they faced off with some tough teams in No. 1 Cal (L, 2-0), UNLV (W, 8-3), No. 24 LSU (W, 3-1), BYU (W, 8-2) and Texas Tech (L, 2-1).

All-Time Series: Tech and DePaul have met five times in the past, three of which have come at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga. All of the meetings between the two teams have come on neutral ground. Tech currently holds the 3-2 advantage over the Blue Demons in the series, but DePaul won the last outing. The series between the two teams began at the Louisiana Classic back in 1993.

Last Time against the Blue Demons: The two teams’ last three meetings have come at the NFCA Leadoff Classic, when it was located in Columbus, Ga. The Blue Demons got the best of Tech the last time out and used a single to center to score the game-tying and game-winning runs in the fifth inning. Tech’s lone run came off the bat of Brittany Barnes, who sent a solo shot to left with two outs on the board in the top of the third.

Tech vs. DePaul
3/2/08 vs. #19 DePaul* L, 2-1
2/23/07 vs. DePaul* W, 8-3
2/28/04 vs. DePaul* W, 5-1
2/26/00 vs. #20 DePaul! L, 4-0
2/26/93 vs. DePaul^ W, 4-3
*- NFCA Leadoff Classic (Columbus, Ga.)
!- Bama Bash (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
^ – Louisiana Classic (Lafayette, La.)

Tennessee

This Season: No. 9 Tennessee is off to a 6-2 start, going 5-1 at the Kajikawa Classic, the same tournament the Jackets participated, with victories over UCSB, Texas Tech, San Diego State, Western Michigan and No. 1 Arizona State. It’s one loss came against No. 3 Cal. Tennessee took part in the Time Warner Invitational that, like the ACC/SEC/Big 12 Challenge, saw its share of rain outs. The Vols earned a first day 10-7 win over Illinois but had to postpone a game against Texas and cancel a game vs. Pittsburgh. The Vols ultimately lost to Texas 3-2 on the final day of the tournament.

All-Time Series: Tech and Tennessee have met just three times in the past starting with two games in 1996 at the Samford Spring Invitational in Birmingham, Ala. The two teams met for the third time in the series last season, in what would be Tech’s final game of the year, during the Knoxville NCAA Regional. Tennessee holds a 2-1 series lead, going 1-1 against Tech at the Spring Invite and earning a 7-0 victory last year in Knoxville.

Last Time against the Vols: The last time these two teams met was during the 2011 NCAA Regional held in Knoxville. The game would be the final game of the year for Tech, which dropped a 7-0 decision to the Vols.

Tech vs. Tennessee
5/21/11 vs. #18 Tennessee! L, 7-0
4/7/96 vs. Tennessee^ L, 5-0
4/6/96 vs. Tennessee^ W, 5-4
!- NCAA Regional (Knoxville, Tenn.)
^ – Samford Spring Invitational (Birmingham, Ala.)

UMass

This Season: UMass has played in just one tournament, starting its year off at the FIU Combat Classic in Miami, Fla. The Minutewomen posted a 3-2 record, falling to UAB and No. 24 Louisville, and defeating Illinois, FIU and Michigan State.

All Time Series: Tech and UMass have met five times in the past, starting with an NCAA Regional meeting in 2003. Tech holds the 3-2 series advantage. Sharon Perkinsis a perfect 2-0 against UMass in her coaching career.

Last Time Out against the Minutewomen: The last time these two teams met was at the same complex in Clearwater, Fla., on March 9, 2007. Tech used a four run top of the seventh to break a 1-1 tie en route to earning the 5-1 victory.

Tech vs. UMass 3/9/07 vs. UMass^ W, 5-1
2/24/07 vs. #24 UMass* W, 3-0
3/12/06 vs. UMass^ L, 2-1
5/20/04 vs. UMass! W, 1-0
5/16/03 vs. UMass$ L, 2-0
^- USF adidas Invitational (Clearwater, Fla.)
* – NFCA Leadoff Classic (Columbus, Ga.)
! – NCAA Regional (Athens, Ga.)
$ – NCAA Regional (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)

Mississippi State

This Season: The Bulldogs have played in two tournaments, beginning at the Mardi Gras Invitational in Mobile, Ala. on the campus of South Alabama, where they went a perfect 5-0 on the weekend. MSU earned wins over the host team, Lipscomb, Jacksonville State, Memphis and Samford. Mississippi State hosted its own tournament last weekend, the Bulldog Round Robin, where the Dogs faced off against SIU-Edwardsville, Mississippi Valley State and the rain. MSU went 2-1 on the weekend, stumbling for the first time in its first game of the tournament to SIU-E, 5-4.

All Time Series: Tech and Mississippi State have met eight times in the past with the Bulldogs holding the 6-2 series lead. The two teams alternated hosting a double header each season from 2001-04. MSU remained perfect on its home turf (4-0) while Tech won the last two meetings at home, but fell in two tough games back in 2001.

Last time against the Bulldogs: The last time these two teams faced off against each other was in Starkville in 2004. Mississippi State swept the doubleheader, blowing out the Jackets 10-2 in six innings and just squeaking by in game two for a 1-0 victory.

Tech vs. Mississippi State
5/8/04 at Mississippi State L, 1-0
5/8/04 at Mississippi State L, 10-2 (6)
4/14/03 vs. Mississippi State W, 5-3
4/14/03 vs. Mississippi State W, 9-1 (5)
4/18/02 at Mississippi State L, 3-0
4/18/02 at Mississippi State L, 7-4
4/19/01 vs. Mississippi State L, 4-1 (10)
4/19/01 vs. Mississippi State L, 3-2

Illinois State

This Season: The Redbirds are off to a 6-3 start, going 3-1 at the USF Tournament in Clearwater and 3-2 at the Littlewood Classic out in Tempe, Ariz. ISU has defeated Maine (5-4 [8]), Long Island (9-0 [5]), FGCU (11-0 [5]), Iowa State (10-2 [6]), Iowa(7-3), and Central Michigan (11-3 [6]). The Redbirds’ losses came at the hands of then-No.2 Florida, Minnesota and then-No. 5 Arizona State.

All Time Series: The two teams have previously never met.

The Notes
Movin’ On Up

The softball team came into the 2012 season ranked 23rd in the USA Softball/ESPN.com poll and receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA poll. After defeating three ranked teams in the first two weekends, including upset victories over No. 8 Arizona (2-1), No. 20 Nebraska (6-5) and No. 4 Oklahoma (1-0), as well as a tough battle with No. 2 Alabama (L, 9-12), the Jackets have moved up to 17th in the USA Softball poll and 20th in the NFCA poll.

Upset City
Georgia Tech has already knocked off three higher-ranked teams in 2012 in four chances, at both the Kajikawa Classic and ACC/SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

At the Kajikawa Classic, Tech took down No. 8/8 Arizona 2-1 thanks to a two run single to center by sophomore Alysha Rudnik. On the final day of the tournament, Tech earned a walkoff victory over No. 20/21 Nebraska due in part to a throwing error by the Husker short stop. Tech’s speed on the base paths at the end of the game aided in the victory as freshman Chelsie Thomascame all the way around from first base to score the game winner.

At the ACC/SEC/Big 12 Challenge, Tech took Alabama down to the wire as the two teams battled in what would be a 12-9 victory for the No. 2 team in the country. The nine runs scored were the most any Tech team had ever scored against the Crimson Tide. Following that game, Tech had to turn around immediately and play No. 4 Oklahoma, where it shut out the Sooners, Oklahoma’s first shutout since April 22, 2011, handing OU its first loss of the season.

Clutch Hitter
Danielle Dike has just 10 at bats this season for Tech, but is one of the most productive Jackets on the roster. Dike has started just one game, going 1-for-3, meaning she is 3-for-7 in pinch hit opportunities for Tech. All three of her hits have gone for extra bases and have driven in seven runs. Her seven RBIs rank second on the team behind Kelsi Weseman and Shannon Bear.

2/11 vs. Cal Poly: Two-run double with two outs on the board in the 2nd to give Tech its first lead of the game. Set up a three-run homer by Ashley Thomas (her first) to break the game wide open. 2/17 vs. Alabama: Two-run double with two outs in the bottom of the third. Helped Tech to regain a 6-5 lead over No. 2 Alabama. 2/19 at Auburn: Three-run homer, her first of the season, in the top of the fourth that gave Tech a brief 5-4 lead over Auburn.

Round Trippers
Once again, Tech has demonstrated power in 2012. The team has already combined for 11 home runs in 2012 in 10 games played, the same amount the 2011 squad blasted through 10. In 2011, Tech softball registered an even 100 home runs on the year. Seven different athletes have knocked one out of the park in 2012, led by Kelsi Weseman (4) and Shannon Bear (2). Ashley Thomashad her first career homer against Cal Poly at the Kajikawa Classic, a three run shot.

ACC Regular Season Champs?
…the ACC coaches think so. The softball team was predicted to win its fourth-straight Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title, as voted by the league’s head coaches. The Yellow Jackets received five first-place votes and 46 total points. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.

The Jackets are coming off of a 45-12 season where they won the ACC regular season title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 10th straight season. Tech heads into 2012 with the return of All-Americans Hope Rush and Kelsi Weseman and All-ACC performer Alysha Rudnik. Tech begins the season ranked 23rd in the USA Softball/ESPN poll and are receiving votes in the NFCA/USA today poll.

USA Softball Watch List
Georgia Tech senior shortstop Kelsi Wesemanhas been selected to the “Watch List” for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) announced Wednesday.

Weseman, who is coming off the most productive season of her career, returns to the Tech lineup after batting .424 last spring with 67 hits, 17 doubles, 21 home runs and a slugging percentage of .968, which ranked second nationally.

The Hutto, Texas native earned her first career All-American nod last season, becoming the eighth Tech player to earn the honor and the fifth under the tutelage of head coach Sharon Perkins. Weseman was also named the 2011 ACC Player of the Year, earned All-ACC (first team) accolades for the third-straight season and has been a part of an ACC Championship in each of her three years here on the Flats.

In 2010, former Tech softball player Jen Yee was a finalist for the award while current junior Hope Rushmade it to the semi-final round of voting.

Television Stars
The softball team will make at least four appearances on television in 2012. Tech’s home game against Maryland April 8 as well as a Monday night game at Florida State April 16 will be featured on national TV (ESPNU) while the Yellow Jackets’ doubleheader against FSU on April 15 will be broadcast on ESPN3.com

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