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Countdown to First Pitch: Tech shortstop Christine Sheridan

Feb. 6, 2006

Georgia Tech standout Christine Sheridan sat down with and talked about the upcoming 2006 softball season. Sheridan, a senior from Pasadena, Md., was named to the 2006 Preseason Watch List for USA Collegiate Softball Player of the Year Award. What’s different for you heading into your senior season?

Sheridan: This is my last year, so I have nothing to lose. I really want to go all out and try to make this my best season ever. I feel like it could be. I feel strong and I’ve made little adjustments, in hitting and defensively, which should make this my best year ever. What do you like most about this year’s team?

Sheridan: This is more of a team. In the past it’s been if our key player wasn’t having a good game, then the rest of the team isn’t going to have a good day as well. But this year, everyday somebody new steps up and has a good day of practice, a good day hitting or defensively. There’s a lot more comradery this year, than there was last year, in my opinion. Being the defending ACC champions and returning seven starters, was the team disappointed when Tech was picked second in the preseason ACC poll?

Sheridan: Yes. I felt disrespected, but at the same time I kind of expected it. I was hoping that we would be picked first, but I wasn’t expecting it, honestly, because of the whole `How are they going to do without Jessie [Jessica Sallinger]?’ It wasn’t as big of a surprise as it could have been, but I’m kind of glad they picked us second because now we have even more motivation to prove everybody wrong. All they did is spark a fire under us and get us going. Do you feel the same way about the national rankings?

Sheridan: I don’t think the team focuses on national rankings. It’s nice to be nationally ranked in the preseason, it’s a very nice compliment, but things change so quickly throughout the season. We’re going to have plenty of chances to advance, or drop out, because we are playing a lot of teams in the top 25 and top 10. I don’t think we try and focus on that too much, because it’s really not what’s important to us. We want to play the best we can without worrying about how we are ranked compared to other teams. We want to compare ourselves to how we were in the fall, how we are right now. We want to improve on ourselves and don’t care how we are compared to other teams. Does the team feel like it has something to prove?

Sheridan: Definitely. Losing Jessie is going to be a challenge for us, but I feel like everybody is trying to step up to that challenge. It makes us come together as a team more, and everybody focuses on little things they can do to make the team better and make themselves better, so that we can get to where we want to be and can be. You mentioned how difficult the schedule is, facing five of the top 11 teams in the country, do the players love that kind of challenge?

Sheridan: Yes. This team isn’t one that is going to back down. We don’t sit around and say, `I hope we don’t do badly. I hope they’re not going to crush us in our opening game.’ No, we’re definitely stepping up to the challenge. We want to be challenged by a good team, because they make you better. Beating up on teams that aren’t ranked, lower tier teams, is good for your self confidence, but it doesn’t really make you better. Playing better teams makes you better. What did you learn in your first season in the ACC and what can you take from last year to help you this year?

Sheridan: Word definitely gets around about your hitting style. Once you’ve played a couple of ACC series, the second half of the ACC schedule everybody knows what your strengths and weaknesses are. Knowing that, you have to learn how to adjust midseason. If you start out the season as an [opposite field] hitter, you have to learn how to adjust to the inside pitch halfway through the season. It constantly keeps you on your toes, making sure that you are ready to make adjustments and can quickly. Last season towards the end, teams began to pitch around you; do you think they will be able to do that this year?

Sheridan: That’s one thing that I’m happy about this year is you can’t pitch around anybody in our lineup. If you do, you’re going to be walking in runs, because everyone in our lineup can hurt you. It’s going to be fun, knowing that anybody can deliver at anytime, it’s a comfort that we didn’t always have last year. It was like, hopefully we had the right player up in the right situation, and sometimes that didn’t happen. We had to steal our way to get runs last year, and this year we can depend more on our bats and power. What are some of the games you look at on our schedule where you say that you cannot wait to play them?

Sheridan: The big ones, like Texas, I want to hit off Cat Osterman [2005 Collegiate Softball Player of the Year], I want to play against Michigan and Alabama. But at the same time, I’m not one that looks at the schedule, and knows who we play and when. I just show up. Just tell me what to wear and when to be there and I’ll show up. To me, it’s the same thing with a different uniform. Of course it changes a little bit when we play a ranked team, but it really doesn’t change how I prepare for a game, or doesn’t change how I practice the day before, or how I concentrate during a game. You have to be consistent; you can’t just turn a light switch on when you’re playing No. 4 Texas. You can’t play one game one way and another differently, you have to remain consistent. In your opinion, what defines a successful season in 2006?

Sheridan: Retaining our title, as ACC regular season and tournament champions. I think that would be a success and we don’t expect anything less than that. We definitely want to go back to regionals and advance to the Super Regional, giving us a chance at a World Series. Especially for me, because it’s my last shot, so I’m trying to go as far as we can. I’m going to do anything I can to help us achieve that.


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