May 20, 2004
ATHENS, Ga. – Junior Jessica Sallinger tallied her 15th complete-game shutout, allowing just two bunt singles and struck out 11 to lead No. 24 Georgia Tech (46-17) over Massachusetts, 1-0, at the NCAA Regional on the UGA Softball Complex on Thursday morning.
“Thank God we have Sallinger,” said head coach Ehren Earleywine. “She was dominant out there and we were able to scratch a run across. That’s why we sacrificed in the fourth inning, because we were not moving their pitcher and knew that runs were going to be hard to come by. I’m going to enjoy this one for a couple of hours and then get ready for our next opponent.”
Senior Tara Knudsen finished 2-for-3 to lead the Georgia Tech bats. Junior Katie Donovan drove in the game’s only run on a suicide-squeeze play in the fourth inning and that’s all the offense Sallinger would need.
“It was nice to exact some revenge against UMass,” said Sallinger. “They beat us last year in the regional and we wanted to pay them back this year. We’re looking forward to our next game and know that it’s going to another hard fought game.”
Sallinger became the second pitcher in Atlantic Coast Conference history to surpass a 1,000 strikeouts in a career, posting 1,001 in her three years.
Tech also tied the school record in stolen bases with 88 on the season. Knudsen set a new career record at Tech with her 45th of her career.
UMass threatened in the top of the first inning as Hillary Puglia led off with a walk. Puglia stole second base and moved over to third on a passed ball put a base runner 60 feet away with one out. Sallinger tallied a huge pop out and strikeout to end the inning with no damage.
The Minutewomen’s Kelli Arnold continued to be perfect through the first three innings, as Tech could not manage an offensive attack, as the game remained scoreless after three complete innings.
Senior Soraya Reddick broke up the perfect game with a leadoff walk in the bottom half of the fourth inning. After Reddick was picked off at first base, junior Kirin Kumar singled up the middle to break up the no-hitter. Knudsen then doubled down the right field line to put runners at second and third with out for the Jackets. Donovan drove in the game’s first run on a suicide-squeeze that was a perfectly placed bunt that went for a hit as Tech went up 1-0, with runners on first and third. Junior Liz Bartle then almost took UMass third baseman’s head off with a line drive that she was able to snag for the second out. UMass used another pick off, this time at third base, to get out of the inning, trailing 1-0.
Reddick singled with one out in the sixth inning and was thrown out at second base on a fielder’s choice by Kumar. Knudsen reached base for the second time in the game with a base hit to left field as Tech had runners at first and second with two outs. UMass’ Arnold registered a strikeout to end the threat as the game advanced to the seventh inning with Tech on top by one.
Sallinger struck out the side in the top of the seventh inning to preserve the Tech 1-0 victory. The Yellow Jackets remain in the winner’s bracket and will play the winner of No. 2 seed Georgia (host) and No. 7 seed Eastern Kentucky on Friday at 12:30 p.m.