Sight Club

March 16, 2012

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

During her sophomore season of 2010, Kelsi Weseman watched as teams threw anywhere and everywhere except over the plate when Jen Yee was batting.

That season Yee received a Georgia Tech single-season record 88 walks and set an NCAA single-season record with 31 intentional passes. The walks were a last resort to stop Yee, who blasted a school single-season-record 29 home runs and would have set the season record for hits as she finished 10 short.

Weseman batted third in 2010, the recipient and beneficiary of an abundance of RBI opportunities following unselfish Kate Kuzma, who laid down a career-high 21 sacrifice bunts.

Two years later, Weseman, now, a senior, is living a Yee-like existence when it comes to seeing, actually not seeing, strikes at the plate. The walks aren’t as frequent as with Yee (her 12 walks this season are third on the team behind Kuzma’s 18 and Hope Rush’s 13), but the infrequency of strikes and hittable pitches during a game has become noticeable.

Fortunately, seeing how Yee handled opponents’ unwillingness to throw her strikes has taught her how to deal with it.

“She was really good at taking walks when they’d give them to her but she was also really good at capitalizing on the one good pitch they would give her,” said Weseman. “So I got to watch her and I just try to do the same thing. If they’re going to walk me, just take the walk when they’re going to give it to me but try to take advantage of the pitches that maybe they make a mistake on or that one strike that they give.”

Walking Weseman or at least pitching around her, is certainly more pleasant than pitching to her. The reigning ACC Player of the Year and a second-team All-American last season as a shortstop, Weseman, now playing third, is leading the team in slugging (.600), and on-base percentage (.491) and is tied for the team lead in homers (4) with Rush and Alysha Rudnik.

She’s perfectly content to let teams take their chances with the bats behind her. It’s paying off as Rudnik leads the ACC in hits (38) and total bases (43), is fifth in hitting (.364), seventh in RBIs (17) and 10th in slugging (.544), while Rush is tied for fifth in homers.

“I think it helps me more because we have Hope Rush, `Rud’ all of them coming either right before or behind me,” she said. “So they can’t really pitch around me too much. Where as with Jen Yee, we had a couple but nobody really stepped up like those two are doing.”

That Weseman can slug as proficiently as she has yet not rank among the team leaders in strikeouts is a tribute to her discipline. She admits that not expanding her strike zone is not always easy.

“I think that is something I’ve struggled with because you want to hit the ball,” she said. “So once you see a bunch of balls in a row they start to look better and better. The one that’s maybe not quite as far out but is still a ball starts to look pretty good. So I have struggled with being little bit over-aggressive. I’m trying to work on being more patient and just waiting for that one pitch they’re going to give me and try to take advantage of that.”

Assistant Coach Aileen Morales isn’t surprised by Weseman’s ability to lay off the bad, but not too bad, pitches.

“Kelsi doesn’t need a lot of coaching,” said Morales, who knows about plate discipline as she ranks fifth all-time the school’s career walks list. “She’s one of those kids that is naturally talented, she knows what’s going on with her swing and she’s able to make adjustments on her own within an at-bat,” “

Morales feels that Weseman’s biggest issue comes with blaming herself when she doesn’t convert that one opportunity.

“Kelsi is her toughest critic. So when she only gets one pitch in an at-bat and she misses it or she doesn’t hit it solid, she’s going to beat herself up over it,” she said. “I think that’s the one thing that we try to work on is making sure, ‘If you’re only getting one pitch you’ve got to hit it solid but if you don’t it’s okay because everybody else is getting three chances, you’re getting one. You can’t beat yourself up over that.’ She’s such a perfectionist and that’s why she’s so good.”

Weseman will try to get the Yellow Jackets back on the right track this weekend not only in ACC play, as they were swept in their opening conference series against Virginia last weekend, but overall, as they fell Thursday night to Jacksonville State, 13-6. In between the Virginia series and the Jack. St. loss. came Wednesday night’s emotionally draining 2-0 victory over Georgia, knocking off the country’s No. 8 team and giving the senior class its first victory over their arch-rival (Tech hadn’t beaten Georgia since April 9, 2008).

Tech has had success against Boston College, whom they’ll host today and tomorrow. The Jackets have beaten the Eagles nine straight times, eight of the last nine at Mewborn Field, and have won 22 of 24 in the series, 15 of 17 under current Head Coach Sharon Perkins.

This series will be the ACC opener for B.C., which is the best hitting team in the ACC (its .304 team average is 27 points higher than, North Carolina, which is next), and features three of the ACC’s top four hitters in leader Ali Lynette-Krench (.439), Nicole D’Argento (.366, third), and Brittany Wilkins (.365, fourth).

It also kicks off the team’s month-long fund-raising effort to raise money for breast cancer research on behalf of former Jacket softballer alum Amy Hosier, who is battling the disease.

For more information on Amy, visit her web site.

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