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Jackets Buzz Competition in 2004

June 1, 2004

In Ehren Earleywine’s first season as head coach, Earleywine led Tech to 47-19 record, including the program’s first ever win over a Top-10 opponent, defeating No. 9 Louisiana-Lafayette, 4-1, in Monroe, La., on Feb. 8.

Tech was invited to its third straight NCAA Tournament, gaining its highest seed ever, No. 3 seed, at the Athens Regional. The Jackets upended Massachusetts in the first game, 1-0, and then pulled off the upset over archrival No. 10 Georgia, 3-2, to advance to the semifinals of the winner’s bracket against top-seeded Washington. The eighth-ranked Huskies defeated Tech, 2-0, and went on to win the regional and advance to the College World Series. The Rambling Wreck finished third in the regional, finishing with a 2-2 mark.

Before receiving its third straight at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament, Tech made its second appearance in the ACC Championship game in three years. Tech went 4-2 in the ACC tourney, dropping a quarterfinal game in dramatic fashion to top-seeded Florida State, 3-2, on Friday and falling in the title game to the fourth-ranked Seminoles, 3-1. The Jackets downed NC State, 2-1, and won a triple-header on Saturday with wins over No. 3 seed Virginia, 4-1, No. 6 seed Maryland, 6-4, and No. 2 seed North Carolina, 4-0.

Georgia Tech surpassed the 40-win plateau for just the second time in school history in 2004, winning a school record 52 in Earleywine’s first season as the top assistant at Georgia Tech in 2002.

The Yellow Jackets finished the season with national rankings for team earned run average and winning percentage. Tech ranked fourth in the NCAA with a team ERA of 0.97 and 23rd in the nation with a .712 winning percentage.

The Rambling Wreck also played one of the toughest schedules in the country. Tech faced eight of the final 16 teams remaining in the NCAA Regionals and three that advanced to the College World Series; Florida State, Michigan and Washington.

Receiving accolades for the Jackets was senior Tara Knudsen and juniors Liz Bartle and Jessica Sallinger.

Sallinger became the third Tech player, first pitcher, to garner All-America honors, selected to the NFCA All-America third team. The Kennesaw, Ga., native set new school records in wins (31), ERA (0.82), shutouts (15), strikeouts (351), no-hitters (3) and consecutive scoreless innings pitched (39.2). Sallinger was also named All-ACC and All-Southeast Region first team, for the second time in her career.

Knudsen was tabbed All-ACC for the third straight time. The senior shortstop finished her career at Tech as the home run champion of the ACC with 46 bombs. The Thornton, Colo., native ranks No. 1 at Tech in slugging percentage (.612), games played (246), games started (245), at bats (711), doubles (45), total bases (435) and walks (119). Knudsen ranks second all-time at Tech in career on base percentage (.440), runs batted in (144), hits (242) and third in batting average (.340). She was picked No. 1 overall by the New England Riptide in the supplemental draft and signed a pro contract on Tuesday, May 25.

Bartled earned all-conference honors for the first time in her career. The designated hitter finished second on the Tech squad with 35 runs batted in, six home runs and third with a .280 batting average. The Coral Springs, Fla., native finished the regular season with a .309 batting average.

Winning the team awards for Tech were Soraya Reddick, Sallinger, Knudsen and freshman Kristina Hull. Reddick won the defensive most valuable player, while Sallinger picked up team MVP honors. Knudsen was voted as the team’s msot valuable hitter and Hull was tabbed the team’s hardest worker. Kn

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