May 13, 2008
Tech Returns To Gainesville For Second Straight Time In NCAA Tournament
Georgia Tech (31-29) earned its seventh straight NCAA Tournament bid and will be the No. 4 seed in the Gainesville Regional, May 16-18, at Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium. The Yellow Jackets will take on the No. 1 national seed, Florida (62-2) on Friday at 6:00 p.m. No. 2 South Florida (44-18) and No. 3 Central Florida (46-18) will play in the other game from Gainesville at 3:30 p.m.
Live stats of all Georgia Tech games will be available at www.ramblinwreck.com via Gametracker.
NCAA Softball Gainesville, Fla. Regional
Game 1: #2 South Florida (44-18) vs. #3 Central Florida (46-18) Friday, May 16 3:30 p.m.
Game 2: #1 Florida (62-2) vs. #4 Georgia Tech (31-29) Friday, May 16 6:00 p.m.
Game 3: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner Saturday, May 17 1:00 p.m.
Game 4: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser Saturday, May 17 3:30 p.m.
Game 5: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 winner Saturday, May 17 6:00 p.m.
Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner Sunday, May 18 1:00 p.m.
Game 7: Same teams if necessary Sunday, May 18 3:30 p.m.
**The winner of the Gainesville Region will play the winner of the Fresno, Calif., region (Fresno State, California, San Diego State, Sacramento State) in the Super Regionals, May 23-25.
Tech At The NCAA Tournament
Georgia Tech is making its seventh overall and seventh straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Yellow Jackets are 12-12 (.500) all-time in NCAA’s and have never advanced out of regional play.
The Jackets have won at least one game in each of the seven regionals they have participated in, while winning the first game five out of six times.
This marks the second straight season that Tech has been sent to Gainesville. Last year as a No. 2 seed, the Jackets beat No. 3 Texas 3-2 on a walk-off home run by Brittany Barnes, but lost on the second day to Florida (8-0) and Texas (4-2).
Last year’s game against the Gators is the only time that these two schools have met in the postseason. Tech has never played South Florida or Central Florida in the NCAA Tournament.
First Time Against No. 1
When Georgia Tech and Florida play Friday night, it will mark the first time that the Jackets have matched up against the No. 1 team in the country.
The Jackets have played the No. 2 team in the nation four times, including three this year, and are 0-4 in those games. They have played both Alabama (twice) and Texas A&M this season while each of them was second in the poll. The Jackets also lost to No. 2 Arizona 2-0 on March 6, 2004.
Tech is 36-95 (.275) all-time against ranked teams, including a 3-8 (.273) mark this year. The Jackets’ wins over ranked foes this season came against No. 24 Virginia Tech and No. 17 Georgia twice.
Jackets Against The Field
Georgia Tech has played each of the three teams in the Gainesville region in recent years, but not much. The Jackets are 0-3 all-time against Florida, 1-1 vs. Central Florida and 2-15 against South Florida.
Earlier this season, Georgia Tech dropped a tough 1-0 game at South Florida in the final game of the Louisville Slugger Tournament. A RBI double by Alison Savarese in the second inning was the only run of the game as Tech could manage just two hits against a pair of Bulls pitchers.
Prior to the meeting in last year’s NCAA Tournament, Tech played Florida in the 2003 (9-2 loss) and 2007 seasons (5-1 loss).
Tech and UCF have not played since 2005, an 8-0 Jacket win in Orlando. UCF won the first-ever meeting between these two schools, 1-0, in 2005.
Overall, Georgia Tech is 7-13 against the field of 64.
What A Turnaround
As the weather has warmed up, so have the Yellow Jackets. Tech was 10-21 on March 20, but it has gone 21-8 in the last five weeks to get over .500 for the first time this season and was rewarded with its seventh straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Georgia Tech has won 14 of its last 17 games dating back to a doubleheader sweep of No. 17/19 Georgia on April 9.
In those 17 games, Tech is hitting .294 and out-scoring the opposition 84-46. The Jackets have 40 extra-base hits, including 18 home runs in this period.
Haller On Fire
Junior Whitney Haller took a career .382 batting average into this season, but was in a slump for the first two months.
Prior to the April 16 doubleheader at Georgia Southern, the Marietta, Ga., native was hitting a career-low .193 but left Statesboro 30 points higher.
Haller went 6-for-7 in that doubleheader and has not cooled off since then.
She had her season-long, 10-game hitting streak snapped against NC State at the ACC Tournament, but is still batting .531 (17-32) in the last 12 games with three doubles, four home runs, 16 RBI and a 1.625 OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage).
This streak has seen Haller break the all-time Georgia Tech home run record (Tara Knudsen-46) and tie the all-time ACC record (Jen Chamberlin, NC State-49).
Haller is now 15 RBI behind teammate Savannah Brown for the ACC record and was a second-team All-ACC selection.
Humphreys has already thrown 44 more innings (197.2) than in any other season in her career and is second in the ACC with 19 wins.
The Shady Spring W. Va., native has won 11 of her last 13 starts, posting a 1.52 ERA. She has two shutouts, a save and a nearly three to one strikeout to walk ratio.
For the season, Humphreys is now 19-14 with a 1.89 ERA and .225 opponent’s batting average.
She was a back-to-back ACC Pitcher of the Week recipient in mid-April and has tossed a career-high six shutouts so far this season.
Weaver Hits Them When It Counts
Freshman Jessica Weaver is tied for second on the team with 10 home runs this season, but certainly knows how to make them count.
The Kingston, Ga., native hit the game-winning home run in three of the last four Georgia Tech games to close out the regular season. She accounted for the game-winner against Georgia State (April 23) and then did it again in games two and three of the Maryland series (April 26-27).
It wasn’t a big fly, but Weaver added a a clutch game-tying, two-run single as part of Tech’s three-run rally to beat #17/19 Georgia on April 9 to her resume as well
Weaver homered in each of her first three games, this year as well, including one in her first official at bat against Lipscomb (Feb. 9). She walked in her first plate appearance.
Tech Sweeps Georgia For Second Straight Season
Before head coach Sharon Perkins arrived, Georgia Tech had just five wins all-time against its arch-rival Georgia. Perkins, who was on the Georgia staff for six seasons, is now 4-0 against the Bulldogs after her Jackets pulled off their second straight sweep on April 9 at Glenn Field.
A two-run single by freshman Jessica Weaver and a RBI double from freshman Amanda Crow in the bottom of the sixth inning helped the Jackets come back from a 3-1 deficit and take a 4-3 win in game two.
Freshman Emily Schreck allowed just one unearned run in four innings of relief in game two as she improved to 5-3 on the season.
Brown Breaks RBI Marks
With a two-run single against NC State, senior Savannah Brown set a new ACC RBI record of 182 surpassing the previous mark of 181 held by Virginia’s Sara Larquier.
Earlier this season, Brown broke Anne Knobbe’s all-time Georgia Tech record of 172.
Brown is also moving up the home run charts. The San Diego, Calif., native currently has 45 career long balls. That places her third in school history, four behind teammate Whitney Haller.
Brown is also sixth in school history in doubles (36), fifth in total bases (379) and tied for fourth in walks (99).
Haller New Home Run Queen
While Brown has assaulted the RBI records, Haller has set her sights on the Georgia Tech and ACC home run charts.
With a walk-off, three-run home run against Georgia State on April 23, Haller became the new Georgia Tech home run queen, surpassing Tara Knudsen’s mark of 46. What’s amazing is that Haller has done it as a junior and will still have the rest of this year and her entire senior season to add onto it.
She didn’t stop there though. A long ball in each of the first two games against Maryland on April 26 has moved Haller into a tie with NC State’s Jen Chamberlin atop the ACC record books with 49.
Haller is also creeping up on the RBI chart as well. She now has 178, which is good for second-place all-time at Tech and third in the ACC annals. She is 15 behind teammate Savannah Brown, who currently holds both records.
Morales On Fire
On Feb. 29, senior Aileen Morales was hitting .250, nearly 50 points behind her career average. She heated up as the weather got warmer and has not cooled off.
The Columbus, Ga., native hit a robust .400 for the month of March and has continued this streak into April and May.
Morales is batting .380 since March 1, a span of 45 games. She has 41 runs scored, eight doubles, four triples, six home runs, 26 RBI and a 1.103 OPS.
Morales is 40-for-42 in stolen base attempts during this time period and committed just six errors in 149 chances at the shortstop position.
Morales earned first-team honors for the second time in her career and it marked the third time overall she has been an All-ACC selection. Haller, meanwhile, was selected to the second-team and joins Laura Williams as the only players in Tech history to earn All-Conference honors in each of their first three seasons.
Next season, Haller will have a chance to join Williams as the only four-time All-ACC members in school history. She and Morales are the fifth and sixth, three-time All-ACC honorees in school history as they join a select group that includes Tara Knudsen (2002-2004), Caitlin Lever (2005-2007), Jessica Sallinger (2003-2005) and Williams (1994-1997).
Haller, Morales and junior Blair Shimandle were also selected to the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District softball teams. Haller was a first-team recipient while Morales and Shimandle were each selected to the second team.
Haller earned first-team honors for the second straight season and is now eligible for Academic All-America honors. Voting begins in mid-May, and the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-America teams will be announced Tuesday, May 27. Morales and Shimandle were each selected to the second-team. This is Morales’ third-straight second-team nod, while Shimandle has made it for the first time.
Jones Finds Her Groove
Morales is not the only one who has heated up with the weather. Freshman Christy Jones has hit .329 since March 1 to see her average rise up from .200 to its current mark of .283.
A Wichita, Kansas, native, Jones has reached base at a 40 percent clip since March 1 despite moving around in the order. It doesn’t matter if Jones was batting second, eighth or ninth, she still was able to get on base and then steal bases.
Jones is fourth on the team with 26 runs scored and third with 29 stolen bases. Her 29 thefts are the 33rd-most in the nation.
Her defense has also continued to improve throughout the year and was never more evident than on April 9 against Georgia. With a runner on first base and one out, UGA pinch hitter Jennie Auger hit a line drive headed for the gap in left-centerfield, but Jones came out of nowhere to make a diving catch. She made the grab diving towards centerfield with her body completely parallel to the ground.
Morales An On Base Machine
Senior Aileen Morales has been the leadoff hitter for most of her Tech career and has more than done her job of getting on base.
The Columbus, Ga., native has reached base safely at least once in 240 of her 262 career games. She led off for much of the 2005 season, but spent the first half of 2006 bouncing around the lineup.
Since becoming the primary leadoff hitter on April 8, 2006 against NC State, Morales has reached base safely all but 13 games.
Morales leads the team and is among the ACC leaders for most offensive categories. She is hitting .344 with 45 runs scored, nine doubles, five triples, six home runs and 30 RBI. She hit her first career grand slam March 22 at Coastal Carolina.
In addition, Morales has a .550 slugging percentage and a .422 on-base percentage from the leadoff spot.
Morales Swipes Her Way Into Record Books
Earlier this season, Morales became Tech’s all-time stolen base leader and is still building on that. She is up to 151 in her career. That is also fourth in ACC history behind a trio of Florida State players. FSU’s Myssi Calkins is the all-time leader with 185.
Morales was a perfect 32-for-32 in stolen base attempts this season until NC State’s Alyssa Allbritten gunned her down trying to nab third base on April 5.
Morales is 44-for-46 this season which ranks her first in the ACC and seventh in the nation. Each of her four single-season stolen base tallies rank in the top five all-time at Tech and she has tied her own single-season record. Morales also had 44 stolen bases in 2005.
Morales is also closing in on the ACC runs scored record. With a Georgia Tech record 213 runs scored in her career, Morales now needs just 11 more to pass Florida State’s Shamalene Wilson.
Shimandle Quietly Gets It Done
With the power surge in the Georgia Tech lineup the last couple of years, junior Blair Shimandle has quietly gone about her business and been one of Tech’s most consistent hitters.
Originally from Ohio, the LaGrange, Ga., native has hit over .300 in each of her first two seasons and carried a career .317 average coming into the 2008 campaign.
Shimandle began the year by going a career-high 4-for-4 against Lipscomb on Feb. 9 and has not not missed a beat since then.
She is currently second on the team and 10th in the ACC with a .330 batting average and also has 29 runs, six doubles, three triples, one home run and 25 RBI.
She is 37-for-43 in stolen base attempts this season to rank second in the ACC and 20th in the nation.
Johnson Returns At The Right Time
Junior pitcher Tiffany Johnson missed 26 games with an injury, but has come back stronger than ever for the stretch run.
Since returning, the Atlanta native is 2-0 with one save and a 1.05 ERA. She has allowed just three runs in 20 innings while limiting opponents to a .203 batting average.
Crow Comes Through In The Clutch
Freshman Amanda Crow has just 14 hits this season in a part-time role, but two of them have been extremely timely.
The first game-winning hit for the freshman from Sharpsburg, Ga., was also her first career hit. She stroked a RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning to cap a come-from-behind Tech win on Feb. 15 against Middle Tennessee State.
More recently, Crow delivered the game-winning RBI double, also in the bottom of the sixth inning, against Georgia on April 9.
Crow whacked her first career home run against Georgia State on April 23, as she went back-to-back with senior Brittany Barnes.
Don’t Run On Butler
If they don’t know already, opponents are certainly going to hesitate trying to score when Tech centerfielder Stephanie Butler has the ball.
The Burbank, Calif., native has seven outfield assists already this season, including four at home plate. Butler had just four outfield assists all of last season.
She has also made a hand full of highlight-reel catches in centerfield this season.
Barnes Digs The Long Ball
Senior Brittany Barnes did not let an early season injury keep her from leading the team in home runs for the regular season. Barnes has an ACC leading 12 big flies so far in 2008 and has is fifth in school history with 32 despite this just being her season season on The Flats.