April 20, 2010
#8/6 Georgia Tech Opens Eight-Game Road Trip At Georgia And Florida State
The No. 8/6 Georgia Tech Softball team (41-6, 14-1 ACC) closes out the regular season with eight straight road games beginning Wednesday in Athens against No. 12/10 Georgia (36-8). The two in-state rivals meet for the second time in two weeks with a single game at 5 p.m.
After Wednesday’s game against the Bulldogs, Georgia Tech heads to Tallahassee this weekend for a three-game series against No. 24/20 Florida State (37-12, 9-6 ACC). They will play a doubleheader Saturday at 1 p.m. and then conclude the series with a single game Sunday at Noon.
Georgia Tech can clinch its second straight ACC regular season title this weekend with two wins against FSU or one win and a Virginia loss. Because UVA has a league game canceled due to rain, Tech begins play this weekend with a 4.5 game lead. The Jackets also hold a five-game edge over third-place FSU.
Live audio and stats can be found at www.RamblinWreck.com. Seth Gerard and Caroline Hilton have the call beginning 10 minutes before the scheduled first pitch. Game One of the FSU series will also be on WREK, 91.1 FM in Atlanta.
Tech vs. Georgia
Georgia holds a 17-9 advantage in the all-time series between these two rivals, but Georgia Tech is 4-2 in the last six meetings since head coach Sharon Perkins took over. Perkins, a former UGA assistant coach and associate head coach won her first four games against her former employer.
Georgia Tech has won six of the last nine games in the series despite losing 5-4 two weeks ago at Mewborn Field. A three-run home run by UGA’s Ashley Razey in the top of the seventh inning erased a 4-2 Tech lead. The Yellow Jackets took a 4-2 lead into the seventh inning, but stranded 11 runners in the game. Tech had the bases loaded and one out in the first two innings, but was unable to add to its lead.
Redshirt senior Jen Yee was on base all four times against Georgia as she walked twice, was hit by a pitch and doubled. She scored two runs and also stole a base. Sophomore Kate Kuzma was 1-for-2 with a RBI and two sacrifices, while sophomore Kelsi Weseman and junior Christy Jones had two stolen bases apiece.
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 eighth and sixth, respectively. This is the first season the Georgia Tech softball program has been ranked in the top 10.
Dating back to last season, the Yellow Jackets have been ranked in 17 straight NFCA polls and 19 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 Looking To Defend ACC Title
Dating back to the 2008 season, Georgia Tech has won 15 straight ACC series. That is tied with Virginia Tech for the ACC record. The Hokies won 15 straight series from 2006 to 2008.
Since being swept by NC State April 5-6, 2008, Georgia Tech is 41-6 (.872) in ACC games. During its streak, Virginia Tech went 34-10 (.773). Last year, the Yellow Jackets could have easily been undefeated. All three of Tech’s losses in conference play were by one run and each time, the opponent scored in its final at bat.
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. She has reached base in every game this season and is among the national leaders for most offensive categories.
With her 24th home run of the season on April 18 against Boston College, Yee tied former Yellow Jacket All-American Whitney Haller’s ACC and GT single-season record. Haller hit 24 long balls in 2006.
Yee has already broke three records this season and is on pace to shatter several others. 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.
Through 47 games, Yee is batting .597 (1st in ACC, 1st nationally) with a 1.328 slugging percentage (1st, 1st) and a .732 on-base percentage (1st, 1st). She has 76 runs scored (1st, 1st), 71 hits (1st), 53 RBI (1st, 17th), 13 doubles (3rd), 24 home runs (1st, T-1st), 158 total bases (1st) and 58 walks (1st, 2nd).
Of Yee’s 58 walks, she has been intentionally walked 20 times now. Several others have been “unintentional walks,” however. Yee has struck out just three times all season and is the fifth toughest batter to fan in the nation.
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 28 appearances in the circle, Rush is 22-4 with a 1.37 ERA. She has held opponents to a .206 batting average and has thrown seven shutouts. In nine starts against ranked teams, Rush is 7-2 with a 1.84 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 first in the ACC in wins, fourth in ERA, eighth in opponent’s batting average and ninth in strikeouts.
At the plate, Rush is batting .299 with 14 home runs and 43 RBI. She is second in the ACC in homers and fourth in RBI. Her .642 slugging percentage is seventh-best in the league as well.
Bombs Away In 2010
In Sharon Perkins’ first year of 2007, the Yellow Jackets set a school record with 96 home runs. Through 47 games in 2010, Tech has 91. If the Jackets stay on that pace, they would hit 108 in 56 regular season games and shatter the record.
Georgia Tech has hit multiple home runs in a game 27 times already this year, including five against Hawai’i (Feb. 20) and Arkansas (Feb. 27).
It is not just concentrated on one part of the order either. Seven of the regular starters have at least seven home runs on the season and five of the top 10 players in the ACC don the Yellow Jacket uniform.
Tech’s 91 home runs are 35 more than second place NC State. In fact, with 24 round-trippers Jen Yee has more than four other ACC schools.
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 finding a permanent home in the clean-up spot. Priebe has 39 RBI in her last 22 games after driving in just nine runs over her first 25. She has quickly moved up to second in the ACC with 48 RBI.
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 second in the ACC in batting now with a .344 average. She also has a .695 slugging percentage (fourth), .485 on-base percentage (fourth), 44 hits (ninth), 13 home runs (third), 89 total bases (fifth) and 22 walks (eighth).
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 lately since Tech’s Spring Break trip to her home state of Texas.
In her last 23 games, the Hutto, Texas native is batting .418 with 11 doubles, five home runs and 24 RBI. She has scored 25 runs and has a 1.312 OPS during this span.
The hot streak has raised her batting average to .333 now which ranks eighth in the ACC. She is also eighth in slugging (.639), 10th in on-base percentage (.436), second in runs (47), fifth in hits (48), third in RBI (44), second in doubles (15), eighth in home runs (9) and tied for third in total bases (92).
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 pitching staff.
The trio of freshman Hope Rush, sophomore Jessica Coan and junior Kristen Adkins have combined for a 1.74 staff ERA and .207 opponent’s batting average.
Rush has made 24 starts and is 22-4 with a 1.37 ERA. She ranks first in the ACC in wins and fourth in ERA. Rush has seven shutouts to her credit and 137 strikeouts in 169.0 innings.
Coan is 13-1 with a 1.80 ERA in nine 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 108 batters in 70.0 innings. She ranks seventh in the ACC in ERA, third in opponent’s batting average (.162), 10th in strikeouts, ninth in wins and has allowed the fewest hits and runs among all starters in the league.
The Duluth, Ga., native has thrown a career-high 23.0 consecutive shutout innings now and since giving up four first inning runs at North Carolina on March 20, her only loss of the season, she is 6-0 with a 0.27 ERA in seven appearances. She has 43 strikeouts and just five walks and 12 hits allowed in 26.1 innings.
Adkins, the 2009 ACC Tournament MVP, is 6-1 and her 2.44 ERA 10th-lowest in the ACC. Adkins and Coan have combined for six shutouts giving Tech 13 as a team.