April 6, 2012
By Jon Cooper
– One of the joys of being a freshman is the firsts.
There’s the first game, the first plate appearance, the first at-bat, the first hit ….You get the idea.
Freshman Karly Fullem is enjoying all of those and got to relish one of the special firsts last Sunday in Georgia Tech’s 5-2 win at NC State, which completed the team’s weekend sweep.
With the Jackets up, 3-2, in the top of the sixth, the freshman stepped up with a runner on first and one out. It was a key spot in the game, as the Wolfpack had scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth to close to within one. A shutdown inning might have turned the momentum of the game.
Fullem had other plans. She took an Emily Weiman offering and ripped it over the wall in left, clanging it off a light pole behind the fence. The blast scored teammate Shannon Bear, who had walked, in front of her. Tech had insurance and Fullem had a memory to last a lifetime.
“I was really just trying to get a hit because we had a runner on, and we needed to get another run, so I was just trying to hit a line drive,” said the Suwanee native and Buford High School grad. “I hit the ball pretty good, so I was excited as soon as I hit it.
“I did know it was my first one,” she added. “I guess it’s always kind of in the back of your mind when something like that happens. I didn’t really think about it until I crossed the plate, though.”
The “gee whiz” aspect of college softball is gone for the freshman, who has played in 28 games, making 23 starts, and has established herself at first base. She’s come a long way, considering she didn’t even take the field for the first five games of the season.
“I’ve had an opportunity to play first. So things have been good the past couple of weeks,” she said. “It was just a matter of getting comfortable playing with a new team and coming in as a freshman, you have to have a little time to get adjusted. But my teammates have been really supportive and really helped me out. So it’s been a pretty good and easy transition for me.”
The transition appears complete. Fullem is anything but awestruck by the competition. If anything, she’s awing them.
Heading into this weekend, she is riding a five-game hitting streak, has back-to-back multi-RBI games (a first) and has driven in 11 runs over the last 11 games.
You might say she’s caught on to ACC play.
“It’s really high-intensity but it’s just like any other game really,” she said. “You take it one at a time and you do your best and do whatever you can to win. We have to make sure we do the things we need to do to be successful.”
When the Yellow Jackets (24-16, 6-3) take Mewborn Field this weekend against the Terrapins (20-14, 0-3), they do so having done just about everything right of late and especially against Maryland. Tech is on a five-game winning streak, a six-game ACC winning streak, and a 14-game run over Maryland. The Jackets, who are 33-16 all-time in the series, have never lost to the Terps in the Sharon Perkins era.
“That was news to me,” said Fullem. “The coaches haven’t mentioned that and neither have any of the players. You just go about your business like you would any other game. One at a time and go for the win.”
The weekend also is special, as Sunday is the annual Pink Game, in, which the Jackets raise money for breast cancer awareness. Tech has been raising money since March 14 to help alumnus and former Yellow Jacket softballer Amy Hosier (class of ’06), who is undergoing chemotherapy in her on-going fight against Stage 2A breast cancer.
Fullem is thrilled to be taking part in Sunday’s event. It promises to be another rewarding first for Fullem in a season of them.
“I’m really glad that we do that,” she said. “I actually got to meet [Hosier] at Alumni Weekend. That was the first time I had ever seen her or heard her story. It was cool to get to see her and watch her throw the first pitch and see who we’re playing for. We want to show her how much we care. Hopefully we can raise a lot of money and get a win for her.”