Opportunity Knox?

May 17, 2011

Georgia Tech’s 10th consecutive berth in the NCAA Softball Tournament won’t be anything like in recent years.

That’s a bad thing in that, unlike the last two years, they won’t be playing within the friendly confines of The Mew.

Yet it also may turn out to be a good thing.

“I think it’s exciting to go on the road again,” said head coach Sharon Perkins, the ACC Coach of the Year for the third straight season. “I think it’s easier to have them more focused as a team when we are on the road together. It’s more of a routine instead of them just being on their own. I think we’re excited about that.”

The Yellow Jackets put together a 44-10 season, with an 18-2 mark in ACC play, running off with their third consecutive conference regular-season championship. But some of the bloom came off the rose in the ACC Tournament, being played at Mewborn Field, when they were upset in their first-round game by eighth-seeded Virginia, 6-0.

Perkins isn’t interested in the how’s and why’s of the upset, beyond giving credit to Virginia pitcher Melanie Mitchell and faulting her team for the inability to make the proper adjustments.

The Jackets don’t have time for self-inspection or self-pity, as the NCAA Tournament begins this weekend and Tech is on its way to one of the toughest regions in the country, including host, Tennessee (47-10), the overall 14th seed and Southeastern Conference champion, at-large entry Oklahoma State (37-17), and Liberty (30-28), which received the Big South Conference’s automatic bid. Three of the teams can be found in the top 21 spots in the most recent NCAA RPI poll (Tennessee at 12, Tech at 18, OSU at 21).

Georgia Tech begins the double-elimination bracket on Friday at 4:00 p.m., ET, taking on Oklahoma State. If the Jackets win they’ll play the winner of the Tennessee-Liberty game at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday in the winner’s bracket. Win that and they play for the championship Sunday at 2:00.

A first-round loss and the Jackets will play an elimination game at 4:30 on Saturday against the loser of Tennessee-Liberty. Should they win that game, they’d play another elimination game at 7:00, against the loser of the day’s first game.

The regional will be decided Sunday with the first game being played at 2:00 and a second, if necessary, at 4:30.

Should the Jackets advance to the super regional, they would meet the winner of the Austin, Texas, regional, which includes host and No. 3 Texas, Houston, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Texas State.

While Perkins admitted there was a lot of video study going on to get the team up to speed against the opposition, she was confident the team will be properly prepared come game time. She pointed to the team’s tough non-conference slate that included games against Fordham, Chattanooga, Penn State, Georgia State and Jacksonville State, all of whom are in the tournament, the games with rival Georgia, who lost in extra innings in the SEC Tournament Championship Game to Tennessee, and ACC rivals Florida State, the ACC Tournament champion, and Maryland, who also are in the tournament, as something that has helped the team prepare for what’s ahead. Tech also had Alabama on its schedule but that game was postponed due to bad weather.

Tech was 15-3 in games against teams in this year’s field.

“I feel like what these pitchers throw, we’ve already faced pitching that’s like this so it’s not like we’re going into this completely blind and we’re not prepared,” she said. “I feel like once they see some video on the pitchers then they’ll have a better idea of what their at-bats should be like and to go from there, what our approach will be at the plate.”

“It’s going to be great competition there.”

Tech is 1-1 all-time against Oklahoma State, beating them in the last meeting on March 10, 2007, at the USF adidas Invitational. They are 1-2 all-time against Tennessee, but haven’t met the Lady Vols since 1999. The Jackets have never faced the Flames.

Fans can follow all the action on RamblinWreck.com, as the site will provide photo galleries, video and a live blog. All of Georgia Tech’s games can be heard on the RamblinWreck.com and live video can be seen on ESPN3.com.

–RamblinWreck.com–

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