May 22, 2004
ATHENS, Ga. – No. 10 Georgia (55-16) scored nine runs over the last three innings to eliminate No. 23 Georgia Tech (47-19), 9-1 (6), in the semifinals of the NCAA Softball Regional on Saturday night at the UGA Softball Complex. Senior Soraya Reddick led Tech offensively, going 2-for-2, with a home run. The Yellow Jackets ended the Athens Regional in third place.
“We’re disappointed about the way our season ended,” said head coach Ehren Earleywine. “Anytime you get beat, it hurts, but this game does no justice to how our girls played in this tournament. But when you look at the big picture, I feel like we had a tremendous season.
“The seniors of our team deserve a ton of credit. When they came to Tech, the softball program did not have a winning season in four years, now we’ve been to the NCAA Tournament for three straight seasons and they will leave here as the winningest class ever at Tech. They have built a foundation and have paved the way for a bright future.”
UGA pitcher Katie Griffith (19-5) picked up the win for the Bulldogs, allowing five hits, one run and struck out five in seven innings of work. Junior Jessica Sallinger (31-10) picked up the loss for Tech, throwing four strong innings, scattering five hits, two earned runs and fanned three. She ends the season with single-season records in wins, shutouts (14) and strikeouts (344).
Junior Kirin Kumar went 2-for-3 at the plate for the Yellow Jackets, while fellow junior Katie Donovan was 1-for-1, with two walks. UGA’s Courtney Knight was a perfect 4-for-4, with three runs scored and one RBI to lead all hitters tonight. Senior Tara Knudsen ends the season with 38 walks, breaking her own school record of 37, set in 2002.
Knight and Julie Milner posted consecutive singles in the second inning to give UGA runners at first and second with one out. Sallinger tallied a strikeout for the second out and then walked the next hitter to load the bases with two outs. The Bulldogs’ Nicole Barber then flew out to left field to end the Bulldog threat.
The Jackets’ Reddick singled down the left field line to give Tech a base runner with two outs in the third inning. Kumar then singled down the right field line to advance Reddick over to third base. Georgia then intentionally walked Knudsen to load the bases for junior Liz Bartle. Bartle grounded out to the shortstop as the Bulldogs escaped Tech’s first threat of the game.
Tech’s Donovan led off the fourth inning with a base hit to right field. UGA’s Griffith retired the next three Tech hitters courtesy of a diving grab by third baseman Jade Jarvis to end the fourth for the Rambling Wreck.
With one out in the bottom half of the fourth inning, Knight tripled to the right-center gap to give the Bulldogs their second scoring threat of the game. Milner singled off the end of the bat, just clearing the outstretched glove of Knudsen to give Georgia the first lead of the game, 1-0. Megan McAllister pushed the lead to 2-0 with a big two-out single to left field as the Yellow Jackets trailed by two runs after four complete innings.
Reddick brought life back into the Jackets in the fifth inning with a home run off the scoreboard, her sixth of the season, to cut the deficit in half, 2-1. Kumar followed with her second hit of the ballgame to right field as Tech had a base runner with one out. Knudsen sent a drive to the warning track, but Knight was playing deep and made the catch for the second out of the inning. Griffith posted the final out of the inning for Georgia with a strikeout to advance the game to the bottom half of the fifth inning.
Senior Erin Voeltz made her first appearance for Tech in the circle in the fifth inning. Georgia’s Ashley Godfrey gave UGA some breathing room with a two-run home run to left field and the Bulldogs tallied an unearned run to take a four-run lead, 5-1, after five innings of play.
Georgia ended the game in the sixth inning with four runs in the sixth. With two outs and runners at first and second, Tech dropped a fly ball in shallow left field to allow the Bulldogs to score two runs and end the game, 9-1, after six innings of play.
The second-seeded Bulldogs will meet top-seeded Washington for the right to advance to the College World Series on Sunday at Noon. UGA must defeat the Huskies twice to gain its first CWS berth.