May 20, 2009
TV: ESPN (Play-By-Play: Cara Capuano; Color Analyst: Leah Amico)
Streaming Video: ESPN360
Live Stats: Game 1 Gametracker | Game 2 Gametracker | Game 3 Gametracker
Tickets: Buy Online
Weather: Saturday: 30% chance thunderstorms, 81 degrees; Sunday: 40% chance thunderstorms, 76 degrees
#14 Georgia Tech Hosts #3 Washington For Trip To World Series
No. 14 Georgia Tech (46-13) will host No. 3 Washington in the Atlanta Super Regional, Saturday and Sunday, at Mewborn Field. The winner of the best-of-three series will earn a trip to the Women’s College World Series, May 28-June 3 in Oklahoma City, Okla.
The Yellow Jackets went a perfect 3-0 in the Atlanta Regional over the weekend to earn the program’s first-ever Super Regional spot.
The Yellow Jackets and Huskies will play Game One of the series Saturday at Noon. Game Two will then be Sunday at 1 p.m. with the if-necessary game to follow 30 minutes later.
All three games from the Atlanta Super Regional will be televised live on ESPN, the first time the Georgia Tech program has appeared on national television.
Cara Capuano is the play-by-play announcer, while Leah Amico handles color duties. All three games will also be streamed online for free via ESPN360.
For complete coverage of the Atlanta Super Regional, including links to watch all of the press conference’s live, visit www.ramblinwreck.com.
Georgia Tech comes into the series with Washington as one of the nation’s hottest teams. The ACC regular season and tournament champions have won 11 games in a row and 18 of its last 20.
Tech At The NCAA Tournament
Georgia Tech is 16-14 (.533) all-time in NCAA Tournament play (see chart on page 5 for complete results) and 5-4 (.556) under 2009 ACC Coach of the Year Sharon Perkins.
2009 marked the first time that Tech has advanced out of a regional as well as its first Super Regional appearance. Prior to 2005, the winner of each regional advanced directly to the World Series.
This also marks the eighth straight year that the Yellow Jackets have advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Prior to 2002, Tech had never made it to a regional, but have been a fixture ever since.
This was the first time that the Yellow Jackets have been a No. 1 seed in a regional. Since the NCAA changed from an eight-team regional to a four-team format in 2005, the Jackets have been a two seed twice (2006, 2007), a three seed (2005) and a four seed (2008).
Washington comes into Atlanta as the No. 3 national seed and sports a 44-11 overall record. The Huskies won the Amherst (Mass.) Regional last weekend, going 3-1.
After dropping a 5-1 decision to the host UMass Minutewomen, the two teams played one of the most dramatic games in NCAA Tournament history. Well past 1 a.m. on the East Coast, Washington scored five runs in the top of the 15th inning to beat UMass and earn to the trip to Atlanta.
Husky ace Danielle Lawrie struck out a school-record 24 batters and threw 251 pitches as she went the distance for the win. Washington scored all five of its 15th-inning runs after there were two outs.
The Huskies are making their 16th straight NCAA Tournament appearance, missing out only during their inaugural season in 1993.
Washington has a 65-30 record in postseason (47-12 Regionals/3-4 Super Regionals/15-14 WCWS) and has advanced to the Women’s College World Series eight times (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2007).
The Huskies advanced to the national championship game in both 1996 and 1999. Their 16 straight tournament appearances is tied for the fifth-longest active streak with Oklahoma, while their 62 wins in the tournament are fifth-best in NCAA history.
UW’s eight WCWS appearances are tied for the fifth-most in history with Michigan, and it also is tied with Oklahoma for the fifth-best all-time streak of consecutive WCWS appearances (1996-2000).
The Huskies are hitting .290 as a team and have hit 40 home runs, while stealing 77 bases. Offensively, Ashley Charters leads the way with a .452 average, nine doubles, seven home runs and is 35-for-40 in stolen base attempts.
Ashlyn Watson is batting .362 and has team-highs in home runs (10) and RBI (35).
Danielle Lawrie leads the Huskies in the circle as she sports a 35-7 record with a 0.86 ERA. The Canadian National Team member is holding opponent’s to a .127 average and has 454 strikeouts in 294 innings.
She ranks first in the nation in strikeouts, third in wins, fourth in ERA, first in strikeouts, second in strikeouts per seven innings and third in shutouts.
Tech vs. Washington
These two teams have met just once previously, a 2-0 Washington win in the semifinals of the NCAA Athens (Ga.) Regional on May 22, 2004.
Washington’s Ashley Boek shut out the 23rd-ranked Yellow Jackets on three hits, while Rita Roach scored the winning run on a balk called against Tech pitcher Jessica Sallinger.
Sallinger struck out seven in the loss for Tech, who were then eliminated by No. 2 Georgia later that day.
I’ve Seen You Before
When Georgia Tech head coach Sharon Perkins and Washington’s Heather Tarr exchange line-up cards Saturday, it will not be the first time they have opposed each other in the NCAA Tournament. In 1995, Tarr’s Washington team beat Perkins (then Sharon Brander) and Nicholls State 7-2 in the Lafayette (La.) Regional.
Perkins went 1-for-2 with a RBI and a sacrifice in the game, while Tarr was 2-for-4 and had a RBI.
Long Time Teammates Battle For World Series Trip
Last year at this time, Tech’s Jen Yee and UW’s Danielle Lawrie were training together for the Olympics as members of the Canadian National Team. This year, they are going to go head to head for a spot in the Women’s College World Series.
Yee and Lawrie have either played against each other or together since they were 12. Also on the Canadian National Team was UW shortstop Jennifer Salling and former Georgia Tech stand-out Caitlin Lever.
Yee, Lawrie and Salling all played together for Team British Columbia in the summer of 2005.
This is Salling’s first year at UW after transferring from the University of Oregon.
Yee led all non-Team USA players at the Olympics in Beijing last summer with a .348 batting average. She had a home run and five RBI as Canada made the medal round for the first time in its history.
Lawrie was 1-1 in the circle with a 2.27 ERA, while Salling hit .200.
Yellow Jackets Win Third ACC Championship
In the first year of a single-elimination format, Georgia Tech reeled off three wins in three days to claim the 2009 ACC Championship. Tech beat Virginia (7-0), Virginia Tech (14-4) and No. 16/22 Florida State in the championship game, 3-1.
Tech is now 3-3 all-time in ACC championship games, also winning the title in 2002 and 2005.
Tournament MVP Kristen Adkins went 2-0 in the circle with a 0.54 ERA for the Jackets, but freshman pitcher Jessica Coan might have turned in the best pitching performance. After Tiffany Johnson gave up a first-inning grand slam to Virginia Tech, Coan pitched 6.2 scoreless innings and allowed only three hits as the Jacket bats exploded for 14 unanswered runs.
In the championship game, the Yellow Jackets had a 3-0 lead heading to the seventh inning when Florida State mounted a furious comeback. The Seminoles had a run in and the bases loaded with just one out when FSU’s Kaleigh Rafter hit into the game-ending double play. Rafter hit a pop up into centerfield which was caught by senior Blair Shimandle. Shimandle loaded up and gunned Brittany Joseph down at the plate to end the game, as sophomore catcher Jessica Weaver applied the tag.
Whitney Haller led the Yellow Jackets at the plate as she hit .545 (6-11) on the weekend with a double, home run and three RBI. Shimandle batted .429 with two runs scored and two RBI, while Jen Yee hit .417 (5-12) with three runs scored, two doubles and four RBI. In addition, Kelsi Weseman batted .333 and had two home runs and five RBI.
Haller, Yee, Weseman and Shimandle all joined Adkins on the All-Tournament team for Tech.
Climbing the Rankings
After receiving votes for most of the season, Tech cracked the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll at No. 24 on March 31 and has been steadily climbing since then.
That March 31 poll was the first time that Tech had been ranked since the 2008 preseason top 25.
This week, the Yellow Jackets are up to No. 14 as they have been in the poll for seven straight weeks.
In the NFCA/USA Today poll, the Jackets are 17th this week after breaking in three weeks ago. The Yellow Jackets are behind ACC foes North Carolina (15) and Florida State (16) despite owning a 6-1 record against those two clubs.
Coan Coming Out At Right Time
After a mini-slump in the middle of the season, freshman Jessica Coan has been a big reason why Georgia Tech is two wins away from its first trip to the World Series. The Duluth, Ga., native has given up just one run in her last 24.0 innings pitched for a miniscule 0.29 ERA. Coan has given up just 10 hits and four walks over this stretch while striking out 28.
Of her four wins over this period, three have come in postseason play. Coan just went 2-0 with a 0.68 ERA at the Atlanta Regional.
Coan earned the start in the opener last Friday night against Boston University and shined under the lights in Tech’s first-ever home postseason game. She gave up just one run on four hits and struck out a career-high 11 batters.
In Sunday’s regional final, Coan gave up just one bloop single and fanned six more Terriers over 3.1 scoreless innings of relief.
The power right-hander is 8-3 on the season with a 3.07 ERA and has 100 strikeouts in her 82.0 innings pitched, an average of 1.2 an inning and 8.5 per seven innings.
So Close To A Perfect ACC Season
The Yellow Jackets won a school record 17 league games, but could have easily been 20-0 in 2009. All three of Tech’s ACC losses were by one run and each time, the opponent plated the winning run in its final at bat.
Georgia Tech lost to both Virginia Tech (3-2, March 22) and Boston College (1-0, April 4) on walk-off singles. The Jackets also lost to Florida State 5-4 in eight innings on March 29. In that game against the Seminoles, Tech scored three runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to force the extra frames.
Perkins Is ACC Coach of the Year
Last week, Sharon Perkins became the fourth Georgia Tech coach to win ACC Coach of the Year. Perkins led the Jackets to just their second ACC regular season title and third tournament championship.
Perkins joins Ehren Earleywine (2005), Kate Madden (2002) and Regina Tomaselli (1995) as the other ACC coaches of the Year from Georgia Tech.
Perkins, who won her 100th career game on March 10 against Tennessee-Martin, is 132-60 (.688) in her third season in Atlanta.
Perkins came to Tech after being an associate head coach and assistant coach at Georgia. Since taking over the reigns at Tech, Perkins is 4-1 against UGA. Before Perkins came to Tech, the program had beaten the arch-rival Bulldogs just five times.
Two Outs? No Problem
Just because there are two outs, doesn’t mean the Yellow Jackets are done scoring for the inning. Of Tech’s ACC-leading 327 RBI, 140 (43 percent) have occurred after there were two outs in an inning.
Kelsi Weseman leads the way with 24 two-out RBI, half of her 48 on the season. She is hitting .423 (22-for-52) in that situation this season.
Jen Yee has 21 two-out RBI, while Kristen Adkins has 20. Yee is leading the way with a .519 (27-for-52) two-out average.
Six of the Yellow Jackets’ nine regular starters are hitting over .300 with two outs in an inning. As a team, Tech is batting .303 in this situation.
Switch At The Top Just What The Doctor Ordered
Head Coach Sharon Perkins has tinkered with the top of the lineup for most of the season, but her latest change paid instant dividends. Redshirt junior Jen Yee was moved to the leadoff spot for the Yellow Jackets’ game at No. 7/9 Georgia, trading places with senior Blair Shimandle.
A career .321 hitter, Shimandle had been in a mild slump until the switch and saw her average dip to .260 as a result.
After a series at Virginia where she hit .910 (10-for-11), Shimandle has been on fire and is now batting .320 with 41 runs scored and 24 RBI.
Yee, meanwhile, is hitting at a .421 clip with an on-base percentage of .539 and 63 runs scored.
Haller Is Now Tech, ACC Home Run And RBI Queen
Senior Whitney Haller came into the season needing just one home run for the ACC record, and she wasted no time in taking care of business on opening day, Feb. 7. Haller took Georgia State pitcher Madi Gore deep on the fourth pitch of her at bat in the top of the first inning for her 50th career home run, surpassing NC State’s Jen Chamberlin.
For good measure, Haller added a three-run home run later in the game for her fourth career two-homer game; all this in the first game of the season.
With a three-RBI game at Kennesaw State on Feb. 25, Haller became the school and ACC leader in RBI as well as she passed former teammate Savannah Brown.
Haller is currently tied with former UCLA stand-out Tairia Mims for 13th-place all-time in NCAA history with 61 home runs.
In addition, her 233 career RBI are 12th-best all-time.
Haller Finishing Like She Began
Marietta, Ga., native Whitney Haller burst onto the scene in 2006 by hitting .393 and added ACC single-season records of 24 home runs and 72 RBI en route to Freshman of the Year honors. She also hit .372 with 15 dingers and 67 more RBI as a sophomore, but had an “off-season” by her standards as a junior.
In 2009, the recent recipient of an ACC Postgraduate Scholarship is back to her form. She has hit safely in all but 11 games this year and is third on the team and fourth in the ACC with a .383 batting average. She has 12 home runs, which is tied for second in the ACC, and a league-high 55 RBI as well as a 1.109 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).
Haller earned first team All-ACC honors this year and joined Laura Williams (1994-97) as the only four-time All-ACC members in school history.
She was also recently named to the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA first team Academic All-District and will now go on the national ballot to be an Academic All-American. She is a two-time Academic All-American (2007, 2008).
Weseman Is ACC Freshman of the Year, But Out For Year
Freshman Kelsi Weseman knew she had big shoes to fill replacing All-American shortstop Aileen Morales, but the Hutto, Texas native fit right in until breaking her arm in a freak play during the seventh inning of the ACC championship game against Florida State.
Weseman started all 56 games at shortstop until she broke her left arm diving for a ball up the middle, and is second on the team and third in the ACC batting .406 with a 1.213 OPS.
Weseman had surgery last week and is expected to make a full recovery and be ready to go for next season.
Weseman became the first Yellow Jacket since Whitney Haller in 2006 to be named ACC Freshman of the Year. She was also a first team All-ACC pick and All-Tournament team selection after hitting two home runs and five RBI during Tech’s run to the 2009 title.
Weseman also has 15 doubles (second in ACC), two triples (tied for seventh), nine home runs (eighth), 48 RBI (second) and 63 hits (fifth).
She has reached base safely in all but six games this season, while scoring 45 runs (second in the ACC) and striking out just 17 times.
Weseman has an on-base percentage of .510 (second in the ACC) and don’t say she’s not afraid to take one for the team as she currently ranks 25th in the nation after getting hit by a pitch 16 times.
Yee Is An On-Base Machine
Redshirt junior Jen Yee was one of 50 players named to the USA Softball Player of the Year Watch List earlier this year. While she didn’t make the cut down to 25 which was announced in early April, she has certainly made her presence felt in the lineup this season.
Yee’s name can be found all over the national and ACC leaders this season as she is second in the league and 27th nationally in batting (.421), second in hits (72), first and 11th in runs scored (63), first and 22nd in home runs (15), first and 29th in doubles (18), tied for seventh in triples (2), tied for sixth in RBI (42), first in total bases (139), second in walks (40), first and 12th in on-base percentage (.539) and first and 14th in slugging percentage (.813).
Yee has struck out just 11 times all season and four of her team-high 40 walks have been intentional, although more than a dozen have been “unintentional, intentional walks”.
Yee has come around to score 54 percent of the time she reaches base, 63 times in 117 chances.
Tightening Up The Defense
Georgia Tech is on its way to shattering the school record for fewest errors in a season. In 2003, the Jackets committed just 50 errors but have only 39 through 59 games this season.
Tech is currently first in the ACC and seventh in the nation with a .976 fielding percentage.
Since Sharon Perkins arrived in Atlanta, she has stressed the fact that defense wins championships, and the numbers back it up. In 2006, the year before Perkins took the Tech job, the Jackets committed 94 errors.
The Yellow Jackets made just 56 errors in each of Perkins’ first two seasons and have only half of that so far in 2009.
What’s even more impressive this season is that Tech’s pitchers have only 346 strikeouts in 384.2 innings which means a lot of balls are put in play. Kristen Adkins, for example, is a drop ball pitcher and more than 70 percent of the outs she has recorded are ground balls.
The right side of Tech’s infield has committed just six errors combined as second baseman Jen Yee and first baseman Whitney Haller have only three apiece (two of Yee’s five came at shortstop).
Despite committing her first error in over two and a half years against Virginia Tech, center fielder Blair Shimandle anchors an outfield that has seen the three starters combine for just two errors. Left field Christy Jones and Shimandle have one each, while right fielder Jessica Sinclair has not committed an error.
Johnson, Adkins Provide 1-2 Punch In The Circle …
Sophomore Kristen Adkins, who transferred from the University of Florida, has been the work horse so far for the Georgia Tech pitching staff.
Adkins is currently 24-7 with a team-best 1.48 ERA. She currently ranks fifth in the ACC and 34th nationally in ERA and now has the most wins in the league. Adkins has held opponents to a .237 batting average while picking up five solo shutouts.
She was named MVP of the 2009 ACC Softball Championship and was a second team All-ACC selection as well.
The McKinney, Texas, native is at her best when getting ground balls and quick innings, but recorded a career-high nine strikeouts in the March 28 win over No. 19 Florida State. It was a gutsy start that saw her throw 158 pitches, but give the Jackets a much-needed win to open up the crucial series at Mewborn Field.
In ACC-only games, Adkins was 11-3 with a 1.38 ERA. The 11 wins were two more than any other pitcher in league play.
Throw in the two starts she had in the ACC Tournament, and Adkins was 13-3 with a 1.09 ERA against ACC foes this year.
Johnson, meanwhile, is 14-3 this season with a 1.92 ERA. She has five shutouts and 138 strikeouts in 127.1 innings pitched and has held opponents to a .170 batting average, which is third-best in the ACC.
Johnson just threw a perfect game at Maryland (May 2) in the regular season finale to help Tech clinch the ACC regular season title. She had nine strikeouts and threw just 61 pitches (43 for strikes), while going to a three-ball count on only one batter.
The last no-hitter in Georgia Tech history was a combined one between Johnson and Sarah Wood in an 11-1 win over Lipscomb on March 3, 2007. The last perfect game in Yellow Jacket history was hurled by Jessica Sallinger against Florida State on March 26, 2005.
Like Adkins, Johnson was a second team All-ACC pick. It was her first all-conference citation.
… And At The Plate
Johnson and Adkins are not limited to just pitching duties. They have quickly become two of Tech’s most consistent hitters.
A career .147 hitter heading into this season, Johnson is currently batting .295 with 41 runs scored (tied for sixth in ACC), 13 doubles (tied for fourth), 11 home runs (tied for fifth) and 47 RBI (third). Several of her home runs have been tape measure shots, but she has not gone deep since March 28 against Florida State, a span of 77 at bats.
The Atlanta native did not have a home run in her Tech career heading into 2009, but took Georgia State’s Madi Gore deep on opening day in her first at bat of the season.
Adkins, meanwhile, was batting .115 with no home runs or RBI heading into the March 10 home opener against UT Martin.
She hit the game-winning, two-run home run in game one that day and has been on fire since then, especially at Mewborn Field (see note later on this page).
Adkins now has nine round-trippers, tied for eighth in the ACC, while her 40 RBI are ninth-best.
Four of her home runs (Tennessee-Martin, NC State, Boston College and North Carolina) have been game-winners and all but the one against BC came in the fifth inning or later.
In the 22 games at Mewborn Field, Adkins is a .361 hitter with eight home runs and 27 RBI.
As The Weather Heats Up, So Do The Bats
Look at the team leaders in offense for most ACC categories and you will find the Yellow Jackets at or near the top throughout.
The Yellow Jackets currently rank first in the ACC and 15th nationally in batting average (.310), first and seventh in fielding percentage (.976), first and 11th in slugging percentage (.512), first and 26th in doubles (86) and first and 11th in home runs (70).
Tech is also first in the ACC in on-base percentage (.400), runs (355), hits (481) and RBI (327).
Bombs Away At The Mew
Georgia Tech hitters have had no problem adjusting to its new stadium this year and “The Mew” has had trouble keeping balls in the field of play.
The Yellow Jackets and their opponents combined for 54 home runs in 25 games at Mewborn Field this season, an average of 2.2 a game.
Tech hit 30 of them en route to an 18-4 home record in the regular season and added six more in three wins during the Atlanta Regional last weekend. The Jackets are batting .304 as a team and out-scoring the opposition, 136-60, at “The Mew”. Tech has compiled a .542 slugging percentage and a .383 on-base percentage and committed only 12 errors en route to a .983 fielding percentage.
Jen Yee leads the offense with a .403 batting average at Mewborn Field this season. She has a team-high seven doubles and 10 home runs en route to a robust .955 slugging percentage.
Kristen Adkins certainly found her new surroundings to her liking. At the plate, she had eight of her nine home runs and 27 of her 40 RBI at home. In the circle, Adkins went 12-2 with a 1.51 ERA and four shutouts in 15 home appearances.