Smokin'

May 5, 2011

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

This weekend is the final home series of the season and the focus is rightfully on the seniors and what they’ve brought to Georgia Tech over the course of their careers. This year’s senior class, pitcher Kristen Adkins, outfielder Christy Jones, first baseman Kristine Priebe and catcher Jessica Weaver, has contributed plenty.

It’s also a chance to look to the future and who will carry the torch. One prominent torch-bearer for Georgia Tech will be pitcher Lindsey Anderson.

With the substantial contributions of the freshmen this season, not least of which was Ashley Thomas, the fifth Georgia Tech player to win ACC Player of the Week and second Tech freshman to do so (Alysha Rudnik also won the award), Anderson has quietly filled a vital role for the Jackets.

“All year she has been focused on getting the job done and she has done just that,” said Pitching Coach Shaina Ervin. “I call her a gamer because come game time, she is ready to dominate the opposing hitters.”

Ready, willing and, able.

Anderson heads into this weekend against Florida State sporting an 11-0 mark with a 2.20 ERA. She’s surrendered 44 hits, while holding opposing hitters to a .157 batting average, both league-lows. She has allowed 27 runs (second-fewest in the league), has rung up 105 strikeouts vs. 41 walks in 79 2/3 innings and is tied for third in the league with 12 games finished.

She’s really turned up the heat in ACC play, where she leads the conference with a 0.82 ERA, 21 hits, six runs and four earned runs allowed, is second with five games finished, is third with a .171 opposing batting average, and is fifth with six wins. She has allowed a total of four extra-base hits in ACC play.

The 5-AAA Player of the Year at John’s Creek High School last season has also carried two no-hitters into the seventh inning this season, against Providence on March 20th, where she struck out 12, and against Kennesaw State on April 6th, where she struck out nine.

With all the success, she remains humble and hungry.

“I wouldn’t say I’m at the top of my game. I always think there’s room for improvement and I definitely have seen myself pitch better,” she said. “I know that I can get better and pitch better. But I would say that my mindset is at the right place right now. At the beginning of the season I was having a little bit of issue getting my mind right and having confidence on the mound. Now I feel like I’m bringing the aggressive attack mindset to the game, which is helping me be more successful even if I don’t have my best pitches.”

Anderson’s season was nearly lost pretty much before it began, after injuring her knee, stepping in a hole in the mound on what was the final pitch of the second game against Winthrop on March 22nd.

“At first they thought it was a meniscus tear,” she recalled. “They were trying to decide if I was going to have to have surgery or not, but they read the MRI and said I just sprained the [medial collateral ligament] and have a bone bruise.

“With continually rehabbing and doing some agility work, it handled it pretty well and there was no pain so they let me go back on the mound and start pitching,” she added. “It seems to be healing up pretty good. I haven’t had any trouble with it since I’ve been back.”

Opposing hitters haven’t been as fortunate.

Since her return to the mound from the injury Anderson has gone 7-0 with a save, and a 1.41 ERA (nine earned runs in 44 2/3 innings, allowing 25 hits. She’s struck out 50 and walked but 18. Anderson is eagerly anticipating contributing as Tech seeks a third straight ACC Tournament Championship. She knows the importance of her role on a staff that already includes Adkins and Hope Rush.

“It’s definitely important,” she said. “If I start getting in a little bit of trouble, Kristen comes in, Kristen can throw them off for a couple of innings and if we have to, we can bring in Hope, who can throw them off for another couple of innings. It definitely keeps the other team off-balance because they don’t know what to expect. They have to have a couple of innings to adjust. It’s definitely important going into the end of the season.”

Ervin sees big things ahead for Anderson not just this season, but beyond, especially with her work ethic.

“She wants to be the best, and she pushes herself to get better each inning, each pitch,” said Ervin. “She has been an important part of the team’s success so far this year. I am proud of her, but I know she can get a lot better. I see potential in her she has no idea she has within. I am excited to see her continue to grow as a pitcher.”

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