May 9, 2002
The Georgia Tech softball team was rewarded for its record-setting 2002 season with a pair of major awards at the Atlantic Coast Conference softball awards banquet Thursday. Head coach Kate Madden was tabbed ACC Coach of the Year, while freshman pitcher Jessica Sallinger was named conference Rookie of the Year. Additionally, sophomore shortstop Tara Knudsen and junior catcher Lindsay Wood received all-conference honors.
In her fourth season, Madden has guided the Jackets to their most successful season to date. The squad set school records with 46 overall wins and six conference wins. After being picked to finish last the league in the preseason, Tech earned the No. 2 seed in the conference championship for just the second time in program history. The Jackets also rank third in the South region and have a strong chance of earning the program’s first berth to the NCAA Championships when bids are announced at 9 p.m. Sunday. Madden is the second Tech head coach to earn this honor, as Regina Tomaselli earned the award in 1995.
Sallinger has been dominant from the start of her rookie campaign. She is currently 22-7 with a 1.27 ERA and 258 strikeouts, setting single-season school records for wins and strikeouts in the process. Her strikeout total also ranks second on the Tech career list. She also owns nine double-digit strikeout games, including a school-record 14 against Jacksonville State on April 20. Sallinger has tossed nine shutouts and a pair of no-hitters. She ranks among the ACC’s top four in six major pitching categories. Sallinger is the fourth Yellow Jacket to earn Rookie of the Year honors and first since Anne Knobbe in ’97.
Knudsen and Wood provided the power in the much-improved Tech batting order this season, as both enjoyed record-setting performances. Knudsen leads the Jackets with a .394 average, 16 home runs and 50 RBI. Her homer total equals the school and conference single-season record set by Knobbe in 2000. She also ranks second on Tech’s hit list with 74 and third on the RBI list with 50. Knudsen is among the ACC’s top 10 in 11 offensive categories, standing in the top five in most areas. She has 23 multi-hit games this season.
Wood leads the ACC with a conference-record 23 doubles this season. She ranks second on the Jackets with six homers and third with 22 RBI. In conference play, she is batting .348 and is tied for the league lead with three homers. She has also been stellar defensively, posting a .992 fielding percentage behind the plate. Wood has thrown out 20 of 46 attempted base stealers.
Knudsen and Wood are the first Tech players to earn all-conference accolades since Heather Sumrow in 2000. This marks the sixth time that two Jackets were selected to the team in the same season and first since ’97.
Tech opens competition at the 2002 ACC Tournament against third-seeded Maryland Friday at 5 p.m. The double-elimination event concludes with the championship game Sunday, which will be televised in the Atlanta area at 4:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Net South.