May 6, 2009
#21/15 Georgia Tech Heads To ACC Tournament As Top Seed
No. 21/15 Georgia Tech (40-13) heads to the ACC Tournament, May 8-10 in Raleigh, N.C., as the top seed for just the second time in history. In 2005, the Yellow Jackets also won the ACC regular season title and then went on to capture the tournament championship.
Georgia Tech will face eighth-seeded Virginia (25-20) in the first round of the single-elimination tournament Friday at 5 p.m. The winner of that game will then play the winner of the 7:30 p.m. first round contest between No. 4 Maryland (29-25) and No. 5 Virginia Tech (27-27) in the semifinals Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
The 2009 ACC Championship game will be Sunday at 1 p.m. and televised live on the Regional Sports Networks.
Every game from the first two days will be streamed live for free on ACC Select, while live audio and stats for all Yellow Jacket games are available at www.ramblinwreck.com.
Seth Gerard and Stephanie Morris have the call beginning approximately 10 minutes before the scheduled first pitch.
Tech is red hot heading into the 2009 postseason having won five straight games and 12 of its last 14. The Yellow Jackets won all seven ACC series’ this season and were victorious in their last 13 conference games.
Georgia Tech swept Virginia in a three-game series last month in Charlottesville. The Jackets won 14-1 and 13-4, both in five innings, and then erased a 3-0 fifth-inning deficit to win game three of the series, 5-3.
Senior Blair Shimandle had a monster weekend in Virginia going 10-for-11 (.909) with six runs scored and five RBI.
Overall, Tech hit .414 as a team and belted six home runs against UVA pitching. Senior Whitney Haller and sophomore Jessica Weaver had two round-trippers apiece, while seven of the nine starters reached base at a 50 percent clip for the weekend.
Tech At The ACC Tournament
Georgia Tech is 24-28 (.462) all-time in the ACC Championship. The Yellow Jackets have won the tournament title two times (2002 and 2005), while playing in the final game five times, including three of the last five years.
The Yellow Jackets head into the tournament as the No. 1 seed for just the second time in their history. The only other time came in 2005, when Tech won the tournament title in Maryland.
Here is a breakdown of how the Jackets have done historically against the rest of the league in the championship.
Boston College 2-0 (1.000)
Florida State 3-12 (.200)
Maryland 3-5 (.375)
North Carolina 6-2 (.750)
North Carolina State 2-1 (.667)
Virginia 7-7 (.500)
Virginia Tech 1-1 (.500)
Back In the Rankings
For the first time since last year’s preseason poll, the Yellow Jackets are ranked in the top 25. After receiving votes for most of the season, Tech cracked the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll at No. 24 on March 31.
This week, the Yellow Jackets are up to No. 15 as they have been in the poll for six straight weeks now.
In the NFCA/USA Today poll, the Jackets are 21st this week after receiving votes for most of the season.
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 have been 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 Wins Number 100
Georgia Tech Head Coach Sharon Perkins won her 100th career game on March 8 in the championship game of the Buzz Classic. Perkins is now 126-60 (.677) 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 288 RBI, 128 (45 percent) have occurred after there were two outs in an inning.
Kelsi Weseman leads the way with 21 two-out RBI, nearly half of her 43 on the season. She is hitting .447 (21-for-47) in that situation this season.
Kristen Adkins has 20, two-out RBI, while Whitney Haller has knocked in 18. Jen Yee is leading the way with a .489 (23-for-47) 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 .312 (147-for-471) in this situation.
Switch At The Top Just What The Doctor Ordered
Head Coach Sharon Perkins has tinkered with the top of the line-up 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 Jacket’s 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 .311 with 38 runs scored and 20 RBI.
Yee, meanwhile, is hitting at a .409 clip with an on-base percentage of .539 and 56 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 for former Alabama stand-out Kelly Kretschman for 14th-place on the all-time NCAA home run list with 60.
In addition, her 229 career RBI are 13th 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. 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 .390 batting average. She has 11 home runs, which is tied for third in the ACC, and a league-high 51 RBI as well as a 1.138 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage.
Weseman Enjoying Solid Freshman Season
Freshman Kelsey Weseman knew she had big shoes to fill replacing All-American shortstop Aileen Morales, but the Hutto, Texas native has fit right in.
Weseman has started all 53 games at shortstop and is first on the team and second in the ACC batting .411 with a 1.196 OPS.
Weseman has an ACC-high 15 doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 43 RBI (third in the ACC).
Weseman has reached base safely in all but six games this season, while scoring 41 runs (second in the ACC) and striking out just 16 times.
Weseman has an on-base percentage of .511 (second in the ACC) and don’t say she’s not afraid to take one for the team. Weseman is currently 24th 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 last month and 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 line-up this season.
Yee’s name can be found all over the ACC leaders this season as she is third in batting (.409), second in hits (61), first in runs scored (56), tied for first in home runs (12), second in doubles (14), tied for seventh in triples (2), tied for ninth in RBI (34), first in total bases (115), first in walks (38), first in on-base percentage (.539) and first in slugging percentage (.772).
Yee has struck out just 10 times all season and four of her team-high 38 walks have been intentional.
Yee has come around to score 54 percent of the time she reaches base, 56 times in 104 chances. In addition, she has just three errors at second base in 169 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 34 through 53 games this season.
Tech is first in the ACC and sixth in the nation with a .977 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 just 314 strikeouts in 342.2 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.
Two starters, including senior center fielder Blair Shimandle, have not committed an error all season. Shimandle has now gone 143 straight games without an error, a school record.
Freshman Jessica Sinclair in right field also has a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.
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 21-7 with a team-best 1.62 ERA. She currently ranks fifth in the ACC in ERA and is tied for third in wins. Adkins has held opponents to a .242 batting average while picking up five solo shutouts.
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 is 11-3 with a 1.38 ERA. The 11 wins are two more than any other pitcher in league play.
Johnson, meanwhile, is 14-3 this season with a 1.76 ERA. She has five shutouts and 138 strikeouts in 127.0 innings pitched and has held opponents to a .169 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.
… 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 .299 with 37 runs scored (tied for seventh in ACC), 13 doubles (third), 11 home runs (tied for third) and 47 RBI (second). 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 57 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.
Adkins now has eight round-trippers, tied for eighth in the ACC, while her 33 RBI are 11th-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 .365 hitter with seven home runs and 23 RBI.