May 10, 2003
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 4 seed Virginia (37-25) scored three unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to defeat third-seeded Georgia Tech (36-23) by a score of 4-3 in an elimination game at the 2003 Atlantic Coast Conference Softball Championship at the Seminole Softball Complex. With the victory, the Cavaliers move on to face top-seeded Florida State in Sunday’s title game.
After scoring runs in the fifth and sixth innings, Tech held a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth with ace Jessica Sallinger pitching, but UVa took advantage of two Yellow Jacket errors, a passed ball and a pair of walks to plate three runs and earn the win. Second baseman Sara Larquier led off the inning with a single, the only hit of the frame. The first run came home on a throwing error by Sallinger, the second came on the passed ball and the go-ahead run came on a botched run-down play between third base and home.
Virginia, who defeated Maryland earlier Saturday, 6-3, to reach this game, jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Larquier doubled to center to score shortstop Heather Field, who led off the game with a walk.
Tech knotted the score at one in the top of the second on a double to center by right fielder Soraya Reddick. The hit brought in first baseman Katie Donovan, who also doubled to center to get the rally going. The Jackets had a chance to take a lead on Reddick’s double, but center fielder Sara Wissmann was thrown out trying to score from first.
Junior All-American Tara Knudsen gave the Jackets the lead with a two-out RBI single in the top of the fifth. The base hit scored left fielder Amy Hosier, who doubled to left center, and pushed the Jackets ahead 2-1. Tech had a chance to increase the lead on the play but third baseman Tara Neff was thrown out at home. With the one-run lead, Sallinger replaced starter Erin Voeltz, who was very effective for four innings, to close the game.
Reddick gave the Jackets an insurance run in the sixth when she scored Donovan with a single down the left field line, increasing the Tech lead to 3-1. Donovan reached on her second double of the game and then took third on a Wissmann groundout. Donovan’s two-bagger was the Jackets fourth of the game, which tied the ACC Tournament single-game record.
Sallinger falls to 21-15 with her second loss of the day. She allowed one hit and three unearned runs in two innings, while Voeltz allowed just four hits and one run over four innings. She struck out four Virginia batters. Cavalier reliever Erin Horn earned her third win of the tournament with 1.2 innings of solid work. Starter Christina Grimm allowed three runs on six hits and three walks.
Donovan and Reddick each had two hits to lead the Tech offense, which scratched for eight hits. Reddick drove in two of the Jackets’ three runs. Larquier had two base hits to lead Virginia.
After a Friday win over North Carolina, the Jackets fell to the loser’s bracket with a 5-3 loss to 10th-ranked Florida State earlier in the day. Saturday’s two defeats were only the second and third times this season that the Jackets have lost when scoring at least three runs.
Tech now awaits the NCAA Tournament selections Sunday at 10 p.m. on ESPN News to learn if it makes its second-consecutive trip to the postseason.