THE FLATS – Georgia Tech softball split its season-opening doubleheader against UConn while hosting the 24th Buzz Classic at Mewborn Field on Friday. The Yellow Jackets and Huskies were separated by just a run in each game as the visiting squad escaped on top, 6-5, in game one before the White and Gold edged UConn, 2-1, in game two.
Senior hurler Blake Neleman highlighted multiple standout performances by the Jackets as she tied her career high of 13 strikeouts for the third time on the way to earning her first win of the season in Tech’s game two triumph. The Marietta, Ga., native heaved a complete game two-hitter, allowing just one run in seven innings of work. Offensively, freshman right fielder Paige Vukadinovich impressed in her collegiate debut as she racked up three RBI on two hits, including a triple and a pair of walks.
Game One: UConn jumped on top early in the first contest, stringing together a pair of singles followed by a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead. Georgia Tech came back stronger in the bottom of the second, leading off with a double off the bat of sophomore second baseman Grace Connelly before a bunt single by sophomore designated player Madison Dobbins pushed Connelly home. With two down shortly after, sophomore left fielder Ella Edgmon drew a walk, setting up Vukadinovich’s first collegiate hit in the form of a two-RBI triple. The Yellow Jackets maintained the 3-1 lead into the fourth, but the Huskies exploded in the top half for five runs behind an RBI single and a grand slam to reclaim the lead, 6-3. Tech bounced back in the next two innings as junior third baseman Mallorie Black launched a solo homerun in the bottom of the fifth to cut the lead to two. In the sixth, the White and Gold inched closer as sophomore center fielder Auburn Dupree tripled before coming home on an RBI single courtesy of Vukadinovich. Trailing 6-5 in the final frame, Tech put a pair of runners in scoring position. Senior catcher Emma Kauf walked before sophomore first baseman Bailey Chapin singled as the pair advanced an extra base on an errant throw with one down, but UConn held on to escape for a 6-5 win.
Game Two: As both offenses sputtered out of the gate, but Neleman dealt early as she piled up eight strikeouts by the end of the third inning. Georgia Tech struck first by way of an RBI single from Black in the bottom of the fourth, driving in Vukadinovich for a 1-0 advantage. UConn answered in the top of the sixth with a run of its own, tying the game, 1-1. In the bottom of the sixth, the Jackets came right back, loading the base path on with a pair of walks and a Chapin single, allowing a subsequent walk of Black to push home the eventual winning run. Leading 2-1, Neleman closed things out in the seventh as she struck out the final Husky to secure a 2-1 triumph in game two.
- Neleman notched her third career-high 13 strikeout game, also reaching the milestone in 2022’s season opener against Saint Joseph’s as well as the 2022 ACC Tournament against NC State.
- Black blasted the first homerun of the season for the Jackets, going yard for the fourth time in her career in the opener against UConn.
- Vukadinovich excelled in her first collegiate contest, making the most of her at-bats as she tied for the team lead with three RBI.
- Making her way into the starting lineup for day one, Vukadinovich kicked off her Jacket career with a two-RBI triple and an RBI single in game one.
- Tech had a pair of triples on the day as Dupree joined Vukadinovich in speeding to the corner.
Georgia Tech will return to the field for day two of the Buzz Classic, facing the Saint Francis at 1 p.m. and North Texas at 6 p.m. All games throughout the Buzz Classic will be streamed live on ACC Network Extra.
The Alexander-Tharpe Fund is the fundraising arm of Georgia Tech athletics, providing scholarship, operations and facilities support for Georgia Tech’s 400-plus student-athletes. Be a part of developing Georgia Tech’s Everyday Champions and helping the Yellow Jackets compete for championships at the highest levels of college athletics by supporting the Annual Athletic Scholarship Fund, which directly provides scholarships for Georgia Tech student-athletes. To learn more about supporting the Yellow Jackets, visit atfund.org.
For the latest information on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, follow us on Instagram (@GaTechSoftball), Twitter (@GaTechSoftball), Facebook (Georgia Tech Softball) or visit us at www.ramblinwreck.com.