ATLANTA (April 17) – The Georgia Tech softball team (25-26, 3-5) hits the road this week for three games, traveling Wednesday to Starksville, Miss., to face No. 20 Mississippi State (36-16) in a single-game contest at 3 p.m. and then to Chapel Hill, N.C., to take on North Carolina (41-15, 4-2) at 1 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.
“This will be a tough week for us, but we are looking forward to the challenge,” said head coach Kate Madden. “Both Mississippi State and North Carolina are great teams and are playing very good softball right now.”
Tech has played the Bulldogs only once before, a game in which the Jackets lost 5-0 last season.
“Mississippi State is a solid program,” said Madden. “They have a great coach and a lot of speed on their team. Any time you face a team with speed, it can pose a problem.”
Over the weekend, the Jackets will also face North Carolina in two games, their final Southern Alliance Softball Association contests of the season. Carolina holds a slim advantage in the series, 12-11, but the Yellow Jackets defeated the Tar Heels in the last meeting in the 1999 ACC Tournament, 6-2.
“North Carolina has won a lot of games against very good competition this season,” said Madden. “In our conference, they are probably the strongest team heading into the last week of conference play. Their pitching has been remarkable this year, they have a player who hits with a great deal of power, and their defense is always strong.”
Tech continues to be led by two seniors who are putting together some impressive statistics, respectively. Catcher Anne Knobbe (Brea, Calif.) leads the Jackets in every offensive category, including batting (.409), RBI (50), home runs (16) and doubles (12). Pitcher Jamie Smith (Salem, Ore.) currently has a 14-12 record and has pitched over 180 innings, allowing only 3.18 runs per game.
Currently, the Yellow Jackets are on a three-game losing streak and have seen their record fall to below .500, but that is not something which Madden plans to dwell on this week in practice.
“I thought that we were very flat this past week, especially in our losses to Virginia,” she said. “We will work on every phase of our game this week, pitching, hitting and defense and our mental approach. Our team can be very strong in those areas, and we look forward to entering our games with confidence and an attitude that we can win.”
The Yellow Jackets conclude their regular-season games next week and then will head to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament April 29-31st in Tallahassee, Fla.