May 11, 2010
#7/7 Georgia Tech Set To Defend ACC Tournament Title
After a week off for final exams, the No. 8/7 Georgia Tech Softball team (46-9) heads to Blacksburg, Va. for the 2010 ACC Softball Tournament. The Yellow Jackets are the No. 1 seed and will face eighth-seeded Boston College (16-32) in the first round Friday at 5 p.m.
The winner between Tech and BC will play the winner of the game between No. 4 North Carolina (39-17) and No. 5 NC State (28-26) in the semifinals Saturday at 3 p.m.
The 2010 ACC Championship game is 1 p.m. on Sunday and will be televised live on the Regional Sports Networks. Locally, the game will air on SportSouth. Mike Hogewood and Barbara Jordan have the call.
Live video for all of the quarterfinals and semifinals is available on ACC All-Access. Audio and stats for all of Tech’s games can be found at RamblinWreck.com. Seth Gerard and Caroline Hilton have the call.
Tech At The ACC Tournament
Georgia Tech is 27-28 (.491) all-time in the ACC Championship. The Yellow Jackets have won the tournament title three times (2002, 2005, 2009), while playing in the championship game six times, including four of the last six years.
The Yellow Jackets head into the tournament as the No. 1 seed for just the third time in their history. The only other times came in 2005, when Tech won the tournament title in College Park, Maryland, as well as last season in Raleigh, N.C.
For a breakdown of how the Jackets have done historically against the rest of the league in the championship, please refer to the chart on page 6.
Tech vs. Boston College
Georgia Tech matches up with Boston College in the first round after sweeping the Eagles in a three-game series at Mewborn Field a couple of weeks ago.
The Yellow Jackets hit .400 for the weekend against BC and out-scored the Eagles, 24-3. Jen Yee was 6-for-6 on the weekend with two home runs and was on base in all 10 of her plate appearances. Kelsi Weseman batted .625 (5-for-8) with a home run and six RBI, while Kristine Priebe hit .500 (6-for-12) with a homer and seven RBI.
Hope Rush and Jessica Coan combined for 14.2 innings without allowing a run. Coan struck out 16 batters in 7.2 innings.
Climbing the Rankings
Georgia Tech debuted at 13th in the preseason NFCA/USA Today top 25 poll and 14th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason top 25 poll, both school highs.
Currently, the Yellow Jackets are seventh and seventh, respectively. This is the first time the Georgia Tech softball program has been ranked in the top 10.
Dating back to last season, the Yellow Jackets have been ranked in 19 straight NFCA polls and 21 consecutive ESPN.com polls.
Prior to the arrival of head coach Sharon Perkins, the Yellow Jackets had appeared in the NFCA top 25 poll 25 times. Tech has now surpassed that in her three-plus years in Atlanta.
Jackets Capture 2nd Straight ACC Regular Season Title, Set Sights On Tournament
With a come-from-behind 5-2 victory on April 25 at No. 24/20 Florida State, Georgia Tech clinched its second straight ACC regular season title. It was just the third-ever in program history as the 2005 squad also won.
Dating back to the 2008 season, Georgia Tech has won 17 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 46-7 (.868) in ACC games. During its streak, Virginia Tech went 34-10 (.773).
On Base Machine Jen Yee Is Finalist For Player of the Year
Redshirt senior Jen Yee and freshman Hope Rush were both selected among 25 finalists for the USA Softball Player of the Year on April 7.
Ridiculous is about the only word to describe the year Yee has enjoyed thus far. She has reached base in every game this season and is among the national leaders for most offensive categories.
With her 25th home run of the season on April 24 against Florida State, Yee broke former Yellow Jacket All-American Whitney Haller’s ACC and GT single-season record. Haller hit 24 long balls in 2006.
Yee has already broken seven school records this season and is on pace to shatter several others (see chart on page 5). The North Delta, British Columbia native has already broken Tara Knudsen’s career walks (119) record as well as Amy Hosier’s single-season walks mark (52). In addition, Yee took down current assistant coach Aileen Morales’ single-season runs record (73). Yee did it, however, in 24 less games than Morales.
Yee also topped Morales’ career runs scored record (216), Knudsen’s career doubles record (45) and Haller’s single-season total bases mark (171). Yee has broken or is moving in on several ACC and NCAA records as well. See the chart of page 5 for full breakdown.
Through the regular season, Yee is batting .583 (1st in ACC, 1st nationally) with a 1.303 slugging percentage (1st, 1st) and a .742 on-base percentage (1st, 1st). She has 86 runs scored (1st, 1st), 77 hits (1st), 58 RBI (1st, 26th), 15 doubles (3rd, 93rd), 26 home runs (1st, 1st), 172 total bases (1st) and 78 walks (1st, 1st).
Walk This Way
Of Jen Yee’s 78 walks this season, she has been intentionally walked 29 times now. Several others have been “unintentional walks,” however. Yee has struck out just four times all season and is the fourth toughest batter to fan in the nation.
Yee is tied with former Arizona State All-American Kaitlin Cochran for the most intentional walks in a season in NCAA history. Cochran was issued a free pass 29 times as well en route to the Sun Devils’ national championship in 2008.
With 33 intentional walks in her career, Yee ranks tied for fourth in NCAA history. Former UCLA stand-out Stacey Nuveman holds that record with 81.
Rush Dominates On Both Ends
Freshman Hope Rush was also a finalist for the USA Softball Player of the Year Award. She was not on the initial “Watch List” before the season started and is one of just seven freshmen named a finalist.
In 35 appearances in the circle, Rush is 26-6 with a 1.66 ERA. She has held opponents to a .213 batting average and has thrown seven complete-game shutouts plus another combined one.
In 11 starts against ranked teams, Rush is 8-3 with a 2.23 ERA and three shutouts. Her shutouts came against No. 3 Florida, No. 16 North Carolina and No. 17 Texas A&M.
Rush has thrown two no-hitters this year, both in ACC play. One came at No. 16 UNC while the other one was at home against Virginia Tech.
The Stockbridge, Ga., native is tied for first in the ACC in wins, tied for fifth in ERA, ninth in opponent’s batting average and ninth in strikeouts.
At the plate, Rush is batting .288 with 18 home runs and 54 RBI. She is second in the ACC in homers and third in RBI. Her .644 slugging percentage is eighth-best in the league as well.
Rush’s 18 big flies are the second-most ever by a Tech freshman and the fifth-most in a single-season.
Bombs Away In 2010
In Sharon Perkins’ first year of 2007, the Yellow Jackets set a school record with 96 home runs in 70 games. This year, it took the Jackets just 49 games to break that record. With five long balls on April 24 against Florida State, Georgia Tech broke the school record for home runs and have now hit 107 in 55 games which is second in the nation.
It only seemed fitting that it was a grand slam off the bat of Kate Kuzma which broke the record.
Georgia Tech has hit multiple home runs in a game 32 times already this year, including five against Hawai’i (Feb. 20), Arkansas (Feb. 27) and Florida State (April 24).
It is not just concentrated on one part of the order either. Seven of the regular starters have at least six home runs on the season and five of the top 10 players in the ACC don the Yellow Jacket uniform.
Tech’s 107 home runs are 47 more than second place North Carolina. In fact, with 25 round-trippers Jen Yee has more than two other ACC schools by herself.
Four different Jackets rank in the top 90 nationally in home runs. Jen Yee is first, while Hope Rush ranks eighth, Kristine Priebe is 19th and Kelsi Weseman is 90th.
Priebe En Fuego
After the smooth transition of Florida transfer Kristen Adkins a year ago, its no surprise that its been just as easy for Kristine Priebe.
Priebe, a Moorpark, Calif., native became the second transfer from the Gators to arrive at Tech in as many years and has found her home at first base for the Jackets.
After a slow start, Priebe has been on fire lately since moving up in the batting order. Priebe has 47 RBI in her last 30 games after driving in just nine runs over her first 25. She has quickly moved up to second in the ACC with 56 RBI and is now just two shy of teammate Jen Yee.
Priebe has three grand slams this season and two walk-off home runs, one vs. Virginia and the other against Virginia Tech (enforced run-rule).
Priebe is ninth in the ACC in batting with a .331 average. She also has a .696 slugging percentage (third), .490 on-base percentage (fourth), 33 runs scored (tied-eighth), 49 hits (tied-10th), 15 home runs (third), 103 total bases (fifth) and 29 walks (sixth). She is also second in the league having been hit by a pitch 18 times now.
ACC Freshman Of Year Back In Form
2009 ACC Freshman of the Year Kelsi Weseman, who broke her arm in the ACC title game a year ago, got off to a bit of a slow start this year (by her standards), while regaining her form, but has been tearing the cover off the ball since Tech’s Spring Break trip to her home state of Texas.
The hot streak has raised her batting average to .341 now which ranks seventh in the ACC. She is also seventh in slugging (.652), sixth in on-base percentage (.460), second in runs (55), fifth in hits (56), fourth in RBI (49), second in doubles (16), tied for sixthth in home runs (11) and fourth in total bases (107).
Rush Leads Deep Pitching Staff
While many associate college softball as being dominated by one pitcher, the 2010 Georgia Tech team truly possesses a complete staff.
The trio of freshman Hope Rush, sophomore Jessica Coan and junior Kristen Adkins have combined for a 2.06 staff ERA and .218 opponent’s batting average.
Rush has made 28 starts and is 26-6 with a 1.66 ERA. She is tied for first in the ACC in wins and tied for fifth in ERA. Rush has seven shutouts to her credit and 158 strikeouts in 198.0 innings.
Coan is 13-1 with a 2.57 ERA in 14 starts. She is the power pitcher of the group and averaging over 1.5 strikeouts per inning and over 10 a game. Coan has fanned 116 batters in 79.0 innings. She ranks 10th in the ACC in ERA, sixth in opponent’s batting average (.197), ninth in strikeouts, tied for ninth in wins and has allowed the second-fewest hits and runs among all starters in the league.
The Duluth, Ga., native recently threw a career-high 23.0 consecutive shutout innings and recorded a career-high 13 strikeouts in just five innings of work against BC April 18.
Adkins, the 2009 ACC Tournament MVP, is 7-2 and her 2.39 ERA is ninth-lowest in the ACC. Adkins and Coan have combined for six shutouts.
The Versatile Kate Kuzma
Sophomore Kate Kuzma, who has battled through injuries for most of her young career, has done a little but of it all this year. She has split her time behind the plate and out in left field, while excelling at both. She has just four errors, while throwing out 26 percent of would-be base stealers. In addition, she has a pick-off to her credit.
Offensively, Kuzma has bounced around the order and can play either long ball or small ball. She leads the team and is second in the ACC with 17 sacrifices, but also has eight home runs and 32 RBI. The Sharpsburg, Ga., native is one of the most patient hitters on the team and sees an average of over six pitches an at bat.