April 30, 2009
#23/16 Georgia Tech Looks To Wrap Up ACC Regular Season Title This Weekend In Maryland
No. 23/16 Georgia Tech (38-13, 15-3 ACC) will close out the regular season this weekend at Maryland (29-23, 9-9) looking to clinch the ACC regular season title. The Yellow Jackets and Terrapins will play a doubleheader on Saturday and then a single game Sunday, both at 1 p.m.
With two wins this weekend, Georgia Tech can clinch its second ACC regular season title and a No. 1 seed in next week’s conference championship. The only other season the Yellow Jackets won the ACC regular season title was back in 2005 and they clinched that year in Maryland as well.
Since a 1-0 set-back at Boston College April 4, the Yellow Jackets have won 11 straight league games. The 15 ACC wins this season are the most in school history. In addition, Tech has won all six ACC series’ so far this season and nine in a row dating back to last year.
All three games this weekend will be broadcast for free at www.ramblinwreck.com. Seth Gerard and Stephanie Morris will have the call beginning approximately 10 minutes before the scheduled first pitch.
The Yellow Jackets currently lead Florida State by one game in this week’s ACC standings. The Seminoles will play a three-game series at Boston College this weekend. Maryland, meanwhile, is looking to secure the fourth seed.
Even if FSU sweeps the Eagles in Chestnut Hill, the Jackets would need to just win two games at Maryland to claim the regular season title by virtue of its series win last month in Atlanta.
Third-place North Carolina is done for the regular season and will await results of this weekend’s action to see where it will be seeded.
The ACC Tournament is now a single-elimination format and will be held Friday, May 8-Sunday, May 10 in Raleigh, N.C.
Tech leads the all-time series against Maryland, 25-16 and has won nine straight games vs. the Terrapins. Last season, the Jackets swept the Terps in a three-game series at Glenn Field. Maryland’s last win against Georgia Tech was a 2-1 game on April 29, 2005, in College Park.
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.
This week, the Yellow Jackets are up to No. 16 as they have been in the poll for five straight weeks now.
In the NFCA/USA Today poll, the Jackets are 23rd this week after receiving votes for most of the season.
So Close To A Perfect ACC Season
With three games still to play the Yellow Jackets have a school record 15 league wins but could easily be 18-0 right now.
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 124-60 (.674) 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 271 RBI, 119 (44 percent) have occurred after there were two outs in an inning.
Kelsi Weseman leads the way with 20 two-out RBI, nearly half of her 41 on the season. She is hitting .444 (20-for-45) in that situation this season.
Kristen Adkins and Whitney Haller have each driven in 18 runs with two outs in an inning. Jen Yee is batting a team-high .489 (22-for-45) with two outs this season.
Six of the Yellow Jackets’ nine regular starters are hitting over .300 with two outs in an inning. As a team, Tech is batting .310 (140-for-452) 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 is now batting .304.
Yee, meanwhile, is hitting at a .400 clip with an on-base percentage of .522 and 51 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 228 career RBI are tied with UCLA’s Tairia Mims for 13th all-time in history.
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 10 games this year and is third on the team and fourth in the ACC with a .399 batting average. She has 11 home runs, which is tied for second in the ACC, and a league-high 50 RBI as well as a 1.167 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage.
Haller began the season on an eight-game hitting streak, but was held hitless for three straight games at the Cathedral City Classic. It’s worth noting, that Haller, like many of the players, had the flu on the trip to the West Coast. When she felt better, Haller had a three-hit game against Oregon State.
That eight-game swing represented the fourth- longest hitting streak to begin a season in Yellow Jacket history. Laura Williams enjoyed a 15-game hitting streak to begin the 1997 season as well as a nine-game hitting streak to open up 1996.
In 2006, Tara Knudsen hit safely in her first 11.
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 51 games at shortstop and is first on the team and second in the ACC batting .417 with a 1.215 OPS.
Weseman has an ACC-high 14 doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 41 RBI, good for a fourth-place tie in the ACC.
Weseman has reached base safely in all but six games this season, while scoring 40 runs (second in the ACC) and striking out just 13 times.
Weseman has an on-base percentage of .517 (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 15 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 (.400), tied for fourth in hits (58), first in runs scored (51), tied for fifth in home runs (10), tied for first in doubles (14), tied for seventh in triples (2), first in total bases (106), second in walks (33), first in on-base percentage (.522) and second in slugging percentage (.731).
Yee has struck out just 10 times all season and four of her team-high 33 walks have been intentional.
Yee has come around to score 53 percent of the time she reaches base, 51 times in 96 chances. In addition, she has just three errors at second base in 162 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 33 through 51 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 301 strikeouts in 330.2 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.
Three starters, including senior center fielder Blair Shimandle, have not committed an error all season. Shimandle has now gone 141 straight games without an error, a school record.
Adkins, who plays third base when not pitching, as well as freshman Jessica Sinclair in right field are also perfect on the season.
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 20-7 with a team-best 1.69 ERA. She currently ranks fifth in the ACC in ERA and is third in wins. Adkins has held opponents to a .240 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 10-3 with a 1.50 ERA. The 10 wins are two more than any other pitcher in league play.
Johnson, meanwhile, is 13-3 this season with a 1.84 ERA. She has four shutouts and 129 strikeouts in 122.0 innings pitched and has held opponents to a .174 batting average which is fourth-best in the ACC.
Johnson had a string of 24.0 straight scoreless innings snapped in the fourth inning of game three against Florida State on March 29.
… 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 .307 with 36 runs scored (seventh in ACC), 13 doubles (third), 11 home runs (tied for second) and 44 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 53 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 31 RBI are 10th-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.
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 21st nationally in batting average (.310), first and sixth in fielding percentage (.977), first and 14th in slugging percentage (.513), first and 26th in doubles (76) and first and 12th in home runs (59).
Tech is also first in the ACC in on-base percentage (.399), runs (298), hits (415) and RBI (271).