May 5, 2011
#19/17 Wraps Up 2011 Regular Season Against Florida State Having already clinched the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title, the No. 19/17 Georgia Tech softball team (42-8, 16-1 ACC) wraps up the regular season by hosting Florida State (26-24, 8-9) this weekend at Mewborn Field. The Yellow Jackets and Seminoles will play a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m. followed by Sunday’s 1 p.m. regular season finale. Prior to Saturday’s game at approximately 12:40 p.m., the four Yellow Jacket seniors — Kristen Adkins, Christy Jones, Kristine Priebe and Jessica Weaver — will be honored. In addition, former players Amelia Beach, Stephanie Morris and Emily Schreck, will be recognized. The trio all suffered career-ending injuries but have continued to help the program in various roles. Fans unable to attend this weekend’s action at Mewborn Field can follow online with live video, audio, a blog and live stats at RamblinWreck.com.
Tech vs. Florida State Florida State leads the all-time series against Georgia Tech, 43-22, but the Yellow Jackets have won 11 of the last 14 games in the series. That includes a win for Tech against FSU in each of the last two ACC Championship games.
Looking For A No. 1 Seed Georgia Tech has held steady at No. 14 in each of the last four NCAA/NFCA RPI releases. The RPI is used to determine NCAA Tournament seeding and it appears the Yellow Jackets are right on the edge of earning a No. 1 seed for the third straight season. In 2009, Tech was a No. 14 national seed, its first top seed in a regional in school history. Last year, the Yellow Jackets were No. 8.
Jackets Continue Streak Of ACC Series Wins Dating back to the 2008 season, Georgia Tech has won 23 straight ACC series which is now an ACC record. Virginia Tech held the previous mark having won 15 straight from 2006 to 2008. Since being swept by NC State April 5-6, 2008, Georgia Tech is 62-8 (.886) in ACC games. During its streak, Virginia Tech went 34-10 (.773). There have been some close calls during this streak, but none closer than April 9 at Virginia Tech. Having already lost game one to the Hokies and trailing 5-4 in the seventh inning, freshman Alysha Rudnik hit a game-tying home run with two outs and two strikes. Tech then went on to win the game in nine innings on a home run by junior Jessica Sinclair. The Yellow Jackets have already clinched the No. 1 seed in next week’s ACC Tournament after clinching their third straight regular season title April 30 at Boston College. The 2011 ACC Tournament will be held May 13-15 at Mewborn Field. Its the first time Georgia Tech has hosted the softball championship. No host team has won the ACC Championship since Florida State did it in 2004, but Georgia Tech is the top seed and host this year and has won the last two titles.
No Yee…No Problem Every time head coach Sharon Perkins was asked in the offseason how you replace the bat of Jen Yee she said you can’t do it with one bat, everyone has to contribute. Well, in 2011 it has been a team effort. Georgia Tech is hitting .330 as a team through 50 games and all nine regular starters are batting over .300. Tech ranks first in the ACC and 12th nationally in batting average and leads the conference in every offensive category except doubles (third) and walks (third). Tech is 12th in the nation in scoring (6.44 runs/game) and second with a .615 slugging percentage. They are also 13th in triples (0.30/game) and 53rd in stolen bases (1.46/game).
Bombs Away In `11 After hitting a school record 118 home runs in 2010, Georgia Tech is right on that pace again in 2011 despite losing All-American Jen Yee and her 29 round-trippers. Tech is second in the nation with 96 home runs thus far in 2011 and has nearly doubled the next closest team in the ACC. Five of the top 10 home run hitters in the ACC don the Gold and White led by junior Kelsi Weseman’s 19. The Hutto, Texas, native, known for her gap hitting, is currently fifth in the nation. Freshman Alysha Rudnik is second on the team and 13th nationally with 16 home runs, while Kristine Priebe is tied for third and 45th, respectively, with 13 long balls. Junior Jessica Sinclair and sophomore Hope Rush come in at tied for fifth and 70th with 12 round-trippers.
Perkins Picks Up 200 With a 1-0 win over Georgia State on March 13, Georgia Tech head coach Sharon Perkins won her 200th career game. Perkins is now 225-81 (.735) in her fifth season at the helm of the Yellow Jackets. Perkins has led Tech to the ACC regular season title three times and tournament titles in each of the last two seasons en route to league Coach of the Year honors both times. She has the most wins of any ACC coach since taking over in 2007.
Jordan En Fuego When senior first baseman Kristine Priebe left the April 13 game against Georgia with a back injury, it opened up the door for sophomore Caitlin Jordan. Jordan went 3-for-3 with a home run and two RBI the rest of the way against the Bulldogs and went on to reach base safely in her first eight plate appearances (seven hits) subbing for Priebe. Priebe missed three games but when she returned Coach Perkins was forced to keep Jordan in the line-up. She has hit safely in all nine games over that stretch while batting .613 (19-for-31). She has 10 runs scored, a double, seven home runs and 13 RBI while compiling a 1.948 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage). Jordan has had at least two hits in seven of the nine games and has two game-winning RBI. That includes a walk-off, three-run home run April 16 against North Carolina. On April 23 at Virginia, Jordan tied a school record with three home runs. Savannah Brown is the only other Tech player in history to have accomplished that feat as she did it twice in 2007. For the season, Jordan is batting .436 with seven home runs and 15 RBI.
Adkins Back In Form Senior Kristen Adkins has regained her form as ace of the Tech pitching staff, just over a year removed from her run to ACC Tournament MVP honors in 2009. Adkins, who transferred to Tech for the start of the 2009 season, is currently 19-5 with a 1.40 ERA. She ranks 27th in the nation in ERA and 45th in wins and has 132 strikeouts this season in 150.1 innings. Adkins, who also sits ninth in the nation with five saves, has five shutouts to her credit and is holding opponents to a .194 batting average. The McKinney, Texas native recorded a then-career-high 10 strikeouts in a shutout of Georgia State on March 1. Coincidentally, that is the win that sent Georgia Tech on its recent run that has seen the Jackets win 35 of 39 games. She since topped that with 11 k’s in a shutout of Virginia on April 22. Adkins enjoyed a stretch this season of 31.1 consecutive innings without allowing a run.
From Walk-On To Starter? While its still early to call junior Shannon Bear an All-ACC candidate, the story is quite remarkable. A walk-on with just a handful of at bats in her first two seasons, the Grayson, Ga., native has burst onto the scene and is a candidate for all-conference. Bear is currently batting .304 with a .652 slugging percentage (fifth in the ACC), .385 on-base percentage, 26 runs scored, 31 RBI, eight doubles and nine home runs. All of those numbers for Bear are career-highs.
The New Top Of The Order For the last couple of weeks, the Yellow Jackets have been playing with a pair of slappers — senior Christy Jones and freshman Ashley Thomas — in the top two spots in the order and it has paid dividends. The duo have been at the top of the order for the last 10 games and the Jackets have gone 9-1 over that stretch. Thomas, who is riding a career-high, nine-game hitting streak, is hitting .421 with 10 runs scored, a double, triple and five RBI over that stretch. Jones, meanwhile, is hitting at a .412 clip. Thomas was batting as low as .080 in each March but has slowly and steadily worked her average up and is now hitting a career-best .317. Jones has been over .300 all season as she continues to be the table-setter for one of the nation’s most potent offenses. Jones and Thomas have also combined for 56 stolen bases this season to rank first and second in the ACC. Jones is 31-for-36 while Thomas is 25-for-26. Jones is currently tied with Blair Shimandle for third place with 93 career stolen bases at Tech.
The Versatile Kate Kuzma Versatile is about the best word to describe junior Kate Kuzma. The Sharpsburg, Ga., native has batted anywhere from first to seventh in the lineup. but head coach Sharon Perkins has found Kuzma to be the most productive in her current fifth spot. In the field Kuzma can catch and play left field. The 2010 second-team All-ACC performer is one of the best defensive catchers in the league. If asked to bunt, Kuzma can do that. She is first in the ACC with 13 sacrifices. Need to take a pitch or two…no problem. Kuzma is hitting over .300 with two strikes. She also has the ability to hit away. Kuzma is hitting .301 and moves runners along at a .481 clip. She also has 32 runs scored (10th in ACC), nine doubles, one triple, four home runs and 26 RBI. It was her three-run home run that started an eight-run fifth inning March 26 against NC State helping the Jackets erase a four-run, fourth inning deficit.
Priebe, Weseman Pick Up Where They Left Off Senior Kristine Priebe and junior Kelsi Weseman have been moved all over the batting order this season but have continued to produce whether batting third, fourth, fifth, sixth or even seventh. Weseman is currently batting .426 (first in ACC, 32nd nationally) with a .985 slugging percentage (first, second), .549 on-base percentage (first, 15th), 48 runs scored (first, 41st), 58 hits (second), 55 RBI (first, 25th), 15 doubles (first, 43rd), 19 home runs (first, fifth) and 134 total bases (first). With a double at Virginia on April 22, Weseman broke Jen Yee’s school record (46) and currently has 48 in her career. She also ranks third in school history in batting average (.382), second in slugging percentage (.758), second in on-base percentage (.500), fifth in runs scored (151) and fifth in home runs (40). Priebe, meanwhile, is batting .344 (10th) with a .750 slugging percentage (third, 51st), .4435 on-base percentage (seventh), 37 runs (tied for fourth), 44 hits, 45 RBI (tied for second), three triples (tied for third), 13 home runs (tied for third) and 96 total bases (third). Despite being just in second and only season in a Tech uniform, Priebe is also making her impact in the school’s record books. The Moorpark, Calif., native is third in school history in slugging percentage (.700), third in on-base percentage (.473) and close to breaking through the top five in several other categories.
Freshmen Making An Impact Ashley Thomas is not the only freshman to be making an impact in 2011. Lindsey Anderson, Hayley Downs and Alysha Rudnik have also made significant contributions. Anderson has yet to be defeated in the circle this season as she sports an 11-0 record with a 2.20 ERA, which is seventh-lowest in the ACC. Anderson leads the ACC with a .157 opponent’s batting average and is averaging 1.31 strikeouts per inning and 9.2 a game. The Johns Creek, Ga., native has been even more impressive in league play. In eight appearances in ACC action, Anderson is 6-0 with a 0.82 ERA. Rudnik began her career batting .588 on opening weekend en route to ACC Player of the Week honors and has never looked back. The Lawrenceville, Ga., native is hitting .328 and is second on the team and in the ACC as well as 13th nationally with 16 home runs. While catching and playing a solid third base, Rudnik also has 36 runs scored, six doubles, two triples, 39 RBI (tied for sixth in ACC), a .752 slugging percentage (second, 50th) and a .422 on-base percentage. Downs has made the most of her playing time as she is a top defender in the outfield and is also batting .333 with a couple of extra base hits and seven stolen bases. She has started 20 games in either right field or left field.
Sinclair Working Way Back After missing all of the 2010 postseason with a torn ACL suffered in practice, junior Jessica Sinclair has been slowly working her way back into game form. The Marietta, Ga., native has found her power stroke as she has a career-high 12 home runs already (tied for fifth in ACC, tied for 70th nationally) and is also batting a career-best .322 while patrolling right field for the Yellow Jackets. Sinclair has four game-winning RBI this season, including a home run in extra innings April 9 at Virginia Tech.
Priebe A Finalist For The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award Senior Kristine Priebe was named one of 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award on March 28. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence — community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. The finalists were chosen by a media committee from the list of 30 candidates announced in February. Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to determine the winner. Fans are encouraged to vote via the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award website or on the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award Facebook fan page through May 10. Fan votes will be combined with media and coaches votes to determine the winner.