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Late Heroics Propel Tech Past Penn State, Kent State

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Georgia Tech softball powered Penn State and Kent State in a nail-biting doubleheader on Saturday at Sue M. Daughtridge Stadium. The Yellow Jackets roared past the Nittany Lions on a walk off home run, 7-6, in the first game before stunning the Golden Flashes with a game winning double play, securing a 9-8 victory in the second contest of the day.

Game One: The Nittany Lions got on the board first, leading off with a single that would set up an RBI double. The Yellow Jackets fired back and inning later, leaping in front with three runs of their own. Back-to-back doubles by junior first baseman Abby Hughes and sophomore right fielder Madison Dobbins pushed Tech’s first run across the plate. Three straight walks soon after loaded the bases and walked in another run before sophomore second baseman Grace Connelly put down an RBI single to give the White and Gold a 3-1 advantage after two.

Penn State clawed back in the top of the fourth, using an RBI single to trim the lead to one. Georgia Tech once again answered a run against with three of its own in the bottom half as Connelly sparked a two-out rally with her first triple of the season. Junior designated player Sara Beth Allen pushed Connelly home with an RBI single, priming freshman catcher Reese Hunter for her first career dinger as the two-run bomb moved the Yellow Jackets further in front, 6-3.

The Nittany Lions closed the gap in the top of the sixth, knocking a leadoff home run and a three-run longball to knot things up. With both squads even and extra innings looming in the seventh, senior hurler Chandler Dennis kept the Nittany Lions in check in the top half. Allen led off the bottom of the frame, barreling her first career walk off home run to send the Yellow Jackets out on top, 7-6.

Game Two: Georgia Tech got going early, speeding ahead of Kent State, 3-0, in the top of the first. Starting off the game with a hit batter and a double by senior left fielder Emma Kauf, Connelly splintered a two-RBI single to put the Yellow Jackets on the board. Soon after, Dobbins knocked her second RBI double of the day to give Tech a three-run advantage after one.

In the top of the second, junior shortstop Jin Sileo led off with a single and stole both second and third, making her way home on a fielder’s choice to increase the lead by a run. The White and Gold continued to build on the lead in the third, getting started with Dobbins’ third double of the day. Sileo drove her home on an RBI single, and junior third baseman Mallorie Black followed with a two-run blast to give the Jackets a 7-0 lead.

Kent State climbed back in the bottom of the third, drawing within a run with a two-RBI single and a grand slam to cut the lead to 7-6. The Golden Flashes slipped in front in the bottom of the sixth, using a two-RBI double to take an 8-7 lead.

Georgia Tech tipped the scales back in its favor once more in the top of the seventh, leading off the inning with a single and evening the tally with an RBI triple by Kauf. A sacrifice fly followed as Kauf came home to put the Yellow Jackets back on top, 9-8.

In the bottom of the final frame, Kent State threatened with the bases loaded and no outs. After a pop fly brought the White and Gold two outs away from a triumph, Tech’s foes squandered their golden opportunity as sophomore center fielder Auburn Dupree made a highlight reel diving catch in center field and doubled up the runner on third to keep the Golden Flashes scoreless in the inning, clinching a 9-8 victory for the Jackets.

Game Notes

  • Allen’s walk-off home run came exactly a year after former Tech outfielder Ariella Jackson’s walk-off bomb against Penn State as the Yellow Jackets came out on top, 2-0, on Feb. 25, 2022.
  • Two more Jackets joined Allen in going yard on the day in Black and Hunter.
  • Allen and Black are now tied for the team lead with four bombs on the season. Black moves up to seven dingers in her career while Allen improves to five.
  • Hunter’s two-run home run marked the first of her career.
  • A pair for the White and Gold legged out their first triples of the season as Connelly picked up the second of her career while Kauf added her fifth as a Jacket.
  • Connelly capitalized with runners on throughout the day as she led the squad with five RBI, including a single-game career high four in the barnburner against Kent State.
  • Dobbins went for extra bases three times on the day, lacing three doubles as she batted .429 overall with two RBI. The utility player had never gone for extra bases entering the day.
  • Three different Yellow Jackets batted over .500 on the day.
  • Sileo was the most efficient Jacket through the day, going a perfect 4-for-4 with an RBI against Kent State. The four hits for the Dacula, Ga., native became a single-game career high.
  • Hughes and Hunter followed Sileo, each going 3-for-6. Hughes picked up one two-bagger along with Hunter’s round tripper for two RBI.
  • In the circle, Dennis (4-3) picked up the win over Penn State while sophomore slinger Sophia Voyles earned her first win of the season as she didn’t allow a run in her first outing as the pitcher of record.
  • Senior hurler Blake Neleman shouldered the heaviest load on the pitching staff, picking up seven strikeouts in 7.2 innings of work.

Up Next

Georgia Tech will wrap up its competition in the Queen City Classic on Sunday, facing Kent State once more and concluding with host Charlotte. The Yellow Jackets will begin the day with the Golden Flashes at 11:30 a.m. and finish the tournament against the 49ers at 2 p.m. Coverage information will be provided here.

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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.

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