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Donovan, Sallinger Lead Tech Softball to 10-inning Win over No. 2 seed Alabama at NCAA Regionals

May 16, 2002

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A 10th-inning single to left center by first baseman Katie Donovan scored two and gave the Georgia Tech softball team (50-16) a 3-1 victory over No. 18 and second-seeded Alabama in the NCAA Regional at the Seminole Softball Complex. With the victory, Tech moves on to the play third-seeded Florida State at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

Donovan’s hit scored third baseman Jamie Frost, who had three hits in the game, and left fielder Kirin Kumar, who reached on an error on a bunt attempt.

Alabama made things interesting in the bottom of the tenth, attempting to come back for the second time in extra innings. The Tide got two hits in the inning, but Yellow Jacket all-region starter Jessica Sallinger worked out the frame as she got Alabama catcher Lacy Prejean, who left seven runners on base in the game, to pop to short with runners on the corners.

Sallinger, who has tossed the Jackets’ last 33 innings and allowed just two earned runs, won her eighth straight to improve to 26-7 this season. She went 10 innings, allowing seven hits and one run, while striking out 13. She now has an even 300 strikeouts this season, a first by a Tech hurler.

Tech took a 1-0 lead in the eighth-inning on a home run by junior second baseman Felicia Coursey, her second of the season, but the Tide rolled back with a run in the bottom of the inning, prolonging the contest.

A Suzanne Olcott double scored center fielder Jackie Wilkins from first, tying the game. Walks to Alabama’s third and fourth hitters loaded the bases, setting up a force at any base. This move proved important, as Jackets’ shortstop Tara Knudsen got Olcott at home plate on a force and left fielder Angela Johnson flied to center to end the inning.

This contest was similar to Tech’s opening game of the ACC Championship, a 1-0, nine-inning victory over Maryland on the same field last Friday. Sallinger and Alabama starter Shelley Laird were equally effective, as the two allowed a combined eight hits in regulation.

In the first inning, Alabama squandered a chance to take an early lead, as the Tide had runners at first and third with no outs but failed to score. After inducing a pair of pop ups, Sallinger fanned Prejean to get out of the inning.

Tech had a chance to score in the top of the third, as singles by Frost and Kumar gave the Jackets two runners with no outs. With two down, Knudsen blooped an infield single to the left side, but Alabama Olcott came across the field to collect the ball and nail Frost at home, ending the inning.

Sallinger, who struck out the side in both the third and fifth innings, battled out of another jam in the bottom of the sixth. With the bases loaded and two outs, she got Prejean to foul out to third and end the frame.

Tech’s outstanding defense continued to play an important role, as the Jackets did not commit an error for the seventh consecutive game.

Frost went 3-for-4 to lead Tech at the plate, while Knudsen added a pair of singles. Wilkins had three hits to lead the Tide.

Alabama’s Laird fell to 24-12 with the loss, as she allowed two earned runs on nine hits and two walks.

The game was Tech’s second 10-inning contest of the season, as the Jackets dropped a 6-4 game to Virginia in 10 innings earlier this season. Tech is now 7-2 in extra innings.

The win was also the Jackets’ fourth over a team ranked among the nation’s top 25 and fourth in a row at the Seminole Softball Complex.

With the loss, Alabama drops into the loser’s bracket and will face top-seeded Florida Atlantic, which was no-hit in a 3-0 loss to sixth-seeded Chattanooga earlier in the day. The Tide and Owls play at 8 p.m. Thursday.

-GT-

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