March 8, 2002
PLEASANTON, Calif. – Highlighted by a 2-1 win over No. 17 Iowa and a 4-2 last-inning victory over Long Beach State, the Georgia Tech Softball team (18-4, 0-0 ACC) posted three wins and extended its winning streak to 10 games Friday at the National Invitational Softball Tournament at the Pleasanton Softball Complex. Tech also held off a late rally from Syracuse to win 6-4.
Sophomore shortstop Tara Knudsen’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh gave Tech the 4-2 win over the 49ers and a perfect afternoon. The homer capped a huge day for her, as she went 6-for-10 at the plate with six runs batted in, two triples, a homer and three runs scored.
The Jackets again got on the board first against Long Beach State, as Coursey reached on a fielder’s choice, swiped second and scored on a RBI single by left fielder Tara Neff to give Tech a 1-0 lead.
That score stood until a two-out double by Jamie Farnworth off of starter Jessica Sallinger gave Long Beach State a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh, but Tech would not be denied its third win of the day.
First baseman Katie Donovan and second baseman Felicia Coursey led off the seventh with back-to-back singles, but Donovan was out at third, as pinch hitter Mimi Utt reached on a fielder’s choice. Knudsen then rocketed a ball to dead center to end the game.
Sallinger (9-2) was solid, allowing just six hits and two runs in seven innings. She also struck out eight, giving her 104 strikeouts in 78 innings this season.
The Jackets got on the board first against Iowa, as center fielder Sara Wissmann roped a one-out triple into right center in the bottom of the second. She later scored on an infield single by right fielder Soraya Reddick, giving Tech a 1-0 lead.
Knudsen’s RBI single in the third increased the Yellow Jacket lead to 2-0. She plated first baseman Katie Donovan, who advanced to third on a pair of sacrifice bunts.
Iowa made things interesting in the top of the seventh, as Liz Dennis drew a bases-loaded walk to make the count 2-1. Then with two out and the bases loaded Sallinger got designated player Laurie Leon to ground out to third to end the game.
Sallinger was stellar in earning her eighth win of the season. She allowed just four hits and fanned 12, coming within one of her own school single-game strikeout record. She struck out 13 against Florida Atlantic, Tech’s only other match up with a ranked team prior to Friday.
The Jackets’ momentum carried over into the second game, as Tech took a 1-0 lead in the first frame against Syracuse. Left fielder Kirin Kumar singled and scored on an RBI triple by Knudsen.
The Orangewomen evened the score with a run in the bottom of the second, but Tech responded in the top of the third with three runs.
Coursey was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a Kumar groundout to get things started. Knudsen was intentionally walked to put runners on first and second, and first baseman Lindsay Wood made Syracuse pay with an RBI single, which scored Coursey. Both Knudsen and Wood advanced a base on the throw home and later scored on a single by Wissmann, giving the Jackets a 4-1 lead.
Tech extended its lead in the fifth, as Kumar led off with a walk. She was plated by Knudsen, who ripped her second triple of the game to left center. Knudsen then scored on a RBI single by Wissmann to give the Jackets a 6-1 advantage.
Syracuse rallied to score three in the bottom of the seventh, chasing starter Erin Voeltz from the game. Sallinger entered to retire the final batter to earn her second save. Voeltz (6-2) went 6.2 innings to earn the win.
Knudsen and Wissmann each had three hits for Tech against the Orangewomen. Wissmann had three runs batted in, while Knudsen added two.
The Jackets’ 18-4 record marks the best start since the 1991 team opened the season 22-4.
Tech returns to action Saturday in bracket play.