May 13, 2012
By Jon Cooper
– The 2012 ACC Softball Tournament left a sweet taste in the mouths of the Georgia Tech players and coaches.
The Yellow Jackets’ three resounding wins to take their third ACC Championship in four years was only part of the reason.
A more tangible reason came from Head Coach Sharon Perkins, who at the conclusion of Friday night’s team dinner, took a page out of the Marie Antoinette playbook, basically issuing the order: “Let them eat cake.” Cheesecake that is.
“Man, we had that [Friday]. I think maybe that’s why they played so well [Saturday],” said Perkins, who admitted that following Friday’s 9-1 thrashing of Florida State that dinner at The Cheesecake Factory was her first order of business and her reward for basically eating Anderson Stadium fare Thursday night while scouting three games. “They actually got to have dessert. We never get to have dessert, so maybe that’s what accounted for the 13 hits. Everybody got cheesecake last night.”
The post-dinner treat on Friday did nothing to hamper the team’s hunger when it took the field on Saturday to battle Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game. If anything, the carrot cake dangled on the stick in front of them was added incentive.
The team’s overwhelming response against the Hokies has led some to believe that the proof is in the pudding as far as dessert leading to improved performance and that there may be a ritual in the works.
“Maybe we’ll have dessert before every game now,” said Danielle Dike, who ripped a two-run pinch-hit double off Hokies starter Jasmin Harrell in the seven-run fourth and said she had enough in the tank to leg out a triple had she not fallen at second. “Maybe it gives us a little extra power. I don’t know what it is about getting dessert but I know we always play well the next day.”
“Incentive like that always make you want to do well,” said left fielder Shannon Bear, who grounded a one-out single to jump-start the seven-run fourth and later in the inning lashed a drive to second base that nearly led to the invocation of the eight-run rule (Kate Kuzma’s RBI single did so in the next inning). “I think we’ll be getting dessert in the future.”
Cheesecake was a nice treat after routing FSU on Friday and the way the team responded Saturday, meant dessert again would be a given. What it would be was not known, however. That amounted to about the only suspense surrounding Jackets the entire weekend.
“I’m not sure,” said third baseman Kelsi Weseman, who homered in the third inning to break the scoreless tie then added a two-run single in the fourth. “[Coach Perkins] said there was definitely going to be something. I don’t know what it is, but I’m excited to find out.”
“You know, it may not be cheesecake but I’m pretty sure we can talk ‘Perk’ into something sweet,” said Kate Kuzma, whose fifth-inning RBI single ended the finale, driving in the ninth run and invoking the eight-run rule. “When you win the ACC Championship, pretty much nothing can make you say ‘No.'”
Pitcher Hope Rush knew exactly what she wanted and was eager to prove Kuzma right.
“I’m kind of hoping Coach lets us go to Dairy Queen for a Blizzard®,” said Rush, the Tournament MVP for the second time in three years. “I think the cheesecake was good last night but I prefer Blizzards®.”