May 21, 2004
ATHENS, Ga. – Senior Soraya Reddick made a diving catch in the outfield to end the game and junior Jessica Sallinger (31-8) allowed just three hits as No. 24 Georgia Tech (47-17) upset No. 10 Georgia (52-16), 3-2, in the Athens Regional at the UGA Softball Complex on Friday afternoon. Tech held off a late rally by the Bulldogs and got a game-winning RBI from senior Sara Wissmann to advance to the semifinals of the regional tournament.
“In order to beat Georgia, you have to play a near perfect game,” said head coach Ehren Earleywine. “We went out there and played great behind Jessie [Jessica Sallinger] and she pitched another great game for us. We did not put many runners on base today, but when we did we got some timely hitting. I told the girls to enjoy this one, but when they wake up tomorrow, get ready to face another great team.”
Sallinger went the distance, allowing two runs, one earned run and struck out 11. The Kennesaw, Ga., native set a new Tech single-season record with 341.
“My teammates did a nice job behind me,” said Sallinger. “Georgia is a great hitting team and I knew that I had to hit my spots. I feel good. We get 24 hours rest in between games, if you keep winning, and that’s all I need.”
Wissmann finished the game a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate. It is the third time she has driven in a game-winning run for Tech with two outs.
“She had been pitching me outside all afternoon,” said Wissmann . “I had two strikes and pretty much had to swing at it and was glad that it found the hole through the right side of the infield,” said Wissmann on the game-winning hit.
With one out in the top of the third inning, UGA’s Nicole Barber walked and stole second base to give the Bulldogs a runner in scoring position. Katie Lewis appeared to foul one off her foot as the ball spun in front of the batter’s box, but it did not as Lewis reached base on a single. With runners at the corners, the Bulldogs hit a ground ball to Tech’s Tara Knudsen and she fired a strike to home plate and Barber was tagged out for the second out of the inning. Sallinger then retired the side with her sixth strikeout of the afternoon as the game remained scoreless.
Sophomore Lauren Schlecte led off the bottom half of the third with a walk. After a failed sacrifice, Reddick singled to left field and advanced to second base on a throw to third as Tech had runners at second and third with one out. Junior Kirin Kumar drove in the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly to right field and Reddick moved over to third on the throw to the plate. Knudsen was then intentionally walked. Knudsen then stole second base and Reddick was picked off at third base on a fake throw to second as the game advanced to the fourth with Tech leading by one.
Junior Liz Bartle added to Tech’s lead in the fourth inning with a RBI double to right center field to score Donovan who reached on an error. Bartle advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt and was tagged out by the Bulldog pitcher after a ground ball back to the circle and was caught in a run down.
The Bulldogs responded by putting their first two runners on in the fifth inning with a leadoff walk and a single by Michelle Green. Barber then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners over to second and third with one out. Sallinger recorded her ninth K of the game for the second out of the inning, but UGA cut the deficit in half on a passed ball by the Yellow Jackets. Sallinger registered a pop out for the final out of the inning as Tech led 2-1.
Sallinger stuck out two of the three Georgia batters she faced in the sixth inning and retired the final out with a fly ball to center field as Tech continued to lead by one after six complete innings.
Wissmann put the Rambling Wreck up by two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning with a two-out single to right field to drive in Donovan who singled up the middle as Tech led by two, 3-1, heading to the top of the seventh inning.
UGA’s Julie Milner tripled with one out in the seventh inning to ignite a late rally for the Bulldogs. Green hit a line drive to left field to drive in the run as Tech led 3-2 with two outs in the seventh. Barber then hit a ball in the left-center gap, which was surely a double, but Reddick fully extended to snatch the ball out of the air to close out the Bulldog rally to give the Jackets a one-run victory over their archrival Georgia.
“Jessie pitched a great game and I was not going to let the ball drop. I was tracking the hole way, I have never been so concentrated on a fly ball before.”
The Jackets will face the winner of No. 1 seed Washington (37-17) and No. 5 seed Michigan State (35-24) at Noon tomorrow. The winner of that game will advance to the championship game on Sunday.