March 19, 2010
#12/9 Georgia Tech Opens ACC Play At No. 20/16 North Carolina
The No. 12/9 Georgia Tech Softball team (22-3) opens up conference play at No. 20/16 North Carolina (18-5, 2-1 ACC) this weekend. The two teams will play a doubleheader Saturday and then single game Sunday, both beginning at 1 p.m.
All three games from Chapel Hill be be broadcast online at www.RamblinWreck.com with Seth Gerard and Caroline Hilton beginning at 12:50 p.m.
North Carolina opened up ACC play last weekend by winning two out of three games in Tallahassee, Fla., against Florida State.
Georgia Tech’s doubleheader Wednesday against Georgia Southern was rained out and will be made up later this season.
Scouting #20/16 North Carolina
No. 20/16 North Carolina hosts the Yellow Jackets in their second straight nationally-ranked ACC weekend series. The Tar Heels, who were picked third in the ACC preseason poll, took two out of three games from Florida State in Tallahassee last weekend and enter play this week with an 18-5 record.
North Carolina is led by two-time ACC Player of the Year Danielle Spaulding. Offensively, Spaulding leads the team with a .353 batting average. She has five home runs and 22 RBI, both of which also pace the club.
In the circle, Spaulding is 8-2 with a 0.76 ERA. She has 141 strikeouts in 82.2 innings and is holding opponents to a .107 batting average. Amber Johnson is 10-3 as well and has an ERA of 1.04.
Tech vs. UNC
The Yellow Jackets and Tar Heels have split 50 all-time meetings . Last year, the Yellow Jackets swept North Carolina in a three-game series at Mewborn Field. Two of those wins came on walk-off hits.
In game one, Tech scored six runs off Spaulding, including two-run home runs by Kristen Adkins and Whitney Haller to snap the Tar Heels’ 23-game winning streak which was the longest in the nation and win 6-0. Spaulding, who came into the game with a 19-2 record and a 0.88 ERA, tied a season-high by allowing the six runs and did not get out of the fifth inning. She entered the game with the seventh-best ERA in the nation and leader in strikeouts.
In game two, a bases-loaded RBI single by Caroline Hilton in the bottom of the eighth inning gave the Yellow Jackets a 3-2 win. Then in the series finale, a walk-off home run by Jen Yee in the bottom of the seventh gave Tech the series sweep.
Climbing the Rankings
Georgia Tech debuted at 13th in the preseason NFCA/USA Today top 25 poll and 14th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason top 25 poll, both school highs.
Currently, the Yellow Jackets are 12th and ninth, respectively. This is the first season the Georgia Tech softball program has been ranked in the top 10.
Dating back to last season, the Yellow Jackets have been ranked in 12 straight NFCA polls and 14 consecutive ESPN.com polls.
Jackets Looking To Defend ACC Title
Dating back to the 2008 season, Georgia Tech has won 10 straight ACC series.’ The Yellow Jackets went 17-3 in league play last year en route to the regular season and tournament championships.
Since being swept by NC State April 5-6, 2008, Georgia Tech is 27-5 (.844) in ACC games. Last year, the Yellow Jackets could have easily been undefeated. All three of Tech’s losses in conference play were by one run and each time, the opponent scored in its final at bat.
Tech and Florida State were picked in a tie to win the 2010 ACC crown, although the Yellow Jackets received more first-place votes than the Seminoles. In 2010, Georgia Tech will have to play series’ at both UNC and FSU.
Yee Is An On-Base Machine
You can’t get off to a better start to the season than what redshirt senior second baseman Jen Yee has done this far. The North Delta, British Columbia native hit safely in her first 19 games of the season and has been on base at least once in every game.
Yee leads the ACC in nearly every offensive category as she has a .589 batting average, 1.301 slugging percentage and .691 on-base percentage.
Yee has scored 38 runs and has five doubles, a triple, 36 RBI and 15 home runs, although she’ll be the first to tell you that she’s not a home run hitter. More almost two months left in the regular season, Yee is one home run shy of her career-high (16 in 2009) and has her sights set on the Georgia Tech single-season record. Whitney Haller had 24 home runs in 2006.
Yee, a member of the USA Softball Preseason Player of the Year Watch List, has also drawn 24 walks (three intentional) and struck out just twice in 73 official at bats.
Yee was not a NFCA All-American in 2009 despite hitting .415 with 16 home runs and 43 RBI. She ranks among the ACC leaders in nearly every offensive category and her 40 career home runs are fourth on the all-time Tech charts despite only being here two-plus seasons now.
Bombs Away In 2010
In Sharon Perkins’ first year of 2007, the Yellow Jackets set a school record with 96 home runs. Through 25 games in 2010, Tech has 54 already, on pace to hit 121 and shatter that record.
Georgia Tech has hit multiple home runs in a game 15 times already this year, including five against Hawai’i (Feb. 20) and Arkansas (Feb. 27).
It is not just concentrated on one part of the order either. With the exception of the slapper Christy Jones in the No. 9 spot, every member of the Tech line-up has at least two home runs.
In a four-game stretch of the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic in Las Vegas Feb. 19-20, the Yellow Jackets hit 15 home runs.
Rush Makes Immediate Impact
You can’t really ask for a better way to start a career than what Tech freshman Hope Rush has done over her first two weeks.
In her first career at bat, Rush hit a two-run home run in the first inning of the season-opener against Canisius Feb. 13 at the Wilson-DeMarini Tournament in Clearwater, Fla.
Later that afternoon, Rush made her first start in the circle and tossed a five-hit shutout of the No. 3 Florida Gators. Rush struck out seven Gators in their first day of action since losing to Washington in the National Championship series a year ago.
For good measure Rush hit a two-run home run against UF All-American pitcher Stephanie Brombacher in the sixth inning of a 1-0 game as well. That turned out to the the first career loss for the junior Brombacher in 43 decisions.
The following day against East Carolina, Rush was one out away from a no-hitter and settled for a two-hit shutout. Her first two career starts were shutouts en route to being named the first ACC Pitcher of the Week of the season on Feb. 16.
Sinclair Finds The Power Stroke
Tech sophomore Jessica Sinclair had just two home runs and seven RBI all of last season, but quickly made her presence felt this year.
On Opening Day against Canisius, Sinclair had a career day with a grand slam and six RBI from the No. 8 spot in the order.
Sinclair has batted anywhere from clean-up to seventh now and has six home runs and 21 RBI. She is tied for fourth in the ACC in home runs tied for sixth in RBI and also had seven doubles, which is tied for second.
Kuzma Quietly Gets It Done
As a freshman last year, Kate Kuzma had an injury-plagued season but still managed to compile a .363 on-base percentage despite hitting just .212.
Kuzma had probably the biggest hit of her career against Florida on Feb. 13. In a scoreless game in the fifth inning, Kuzma came up with two outs and runner on second base. She promptly tripled into the gap in right-center field giving the Jackets a 1-0 lead.
Kuzma has six walks so far this season and is seeing over five pitches an at bat. She batted leadoff for the first time in her career March 13 against Georgia State and hit a home run in her first at bat.
For the season, Kuzma is hitting .263 with four home runs, 10 RBI and a .344 on-base percentage.
ACC Freshman Of The Year Back In Form
2009 ACC Freshman of the Year Kelsi Weseman, who broke her arm in the title game a year ago and was forced to miss all of the NCAA Tournament, has returned and quickly found her groove.
The Hutto, Texas, native went hitless in her first three games of 2010, a slump by her standards, but broke out for a 3-for-3 day against Florida Gulf Coast (Feb. 14) and has not looked back.
Weseman homered in three straight games out n las Vegas including a game-winning grand slam in the sixth inning against No. 21 Northwestern (Feb. 19) helping Tech overcome a 5-0 deficit and win 9-6.
For the season, Weseman is hitting .284 with five home runs and 24 RBI. She is slugging .568 with a .389 on-base percentage.
Priebe Fitting Right In
After the smooth transition of Florida transfer Kristen Adkins a year ago, its no surprise that its been just as easy for Kristine Priebe.
Priebe, a Moorpark, Calif., native became the second transfer from the Gators to arrive at Tech in as many years and has found her home at first base for the Jackets.
After a slow start, Priebe has hit safely in 10 of her last 12 games since moving into the clean-up spot in the order. She is now third on the team with a .338 batting average and has compiled an on-base percentage of .477. She has walked 15 times.
Down Goes Brombacher, Gators
Georgia Tech quickly legitimized its high preseason ranking when it knocked off No. 3 Florida, 3-0, on Feb. 13 at the Wilson-DeMarini Tournament in Clearwater, Fla.
It was also the first career loss in the circle for Florida junior All-American Stephanie Brombacher who entered the game 42-0.
The win over No. 3 Florida marked the highest ranked opponent that the Yellow Jackets had ever beaten in program history. The previous best was a 4-1 triumph over No. 9 Louisiana-Lafayette on Feb. 8, 2004.