May 18, 2010
#8 Georgia Tech To Host NCAA Atlanta Regional
Georgia Tech, the No. 8 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, hosts the Atlanta Regional, May 21-23, at Mewborn Field.
The Yellow Jackets are the top seed in the region. No. 2 Oregon (33-19), No. 3 Auburn (31-24) and No. 4 Jacksonville State (30-17) will also compete at Mewborn Field this weekend.
Every game from the double-elimination tournament will be live on ESPN HD or ESPN 2 HD as well as streamed on ESPN3.com. Beth Mowins and Jessica Mendoza have the call.
The winner of the Atlanta Regional will meet the winner of the Colombia, Mo. regional in the Super Regionals, May 28-30. No. 9 Missouri hosts Creighton, DePaul and Illinois.
For complete up-to-the minute information on the Atlanta Regional, please go to the tournament central page at RamblinWreck.com. This site will include links for live stats, audio, video, game recaps, box scores, post-game quotes and much, much more.
Tech At The NCAA Tournament
Georgia Tech is 16-16 (.500) all-time in NCAA Tournament play and 5-6 (.455) under two-time ACC Coach of the Year Sharon Perkins. Last season, Perkins led Tech to its first-ever Super Regional where the Jackets fell to eventual national champion Washington.
Tech is 3-2 all-time in NCAA Tournament home games, all coming last year.
For a breakdown of how the Jackets have done in the NCAA Tournament, please refer to the chart on page 6.
Tech is 20-8 this season against 2010 NCAA Tournament teams.
Tech vs. The Atlanta Field None of the other three teams this weekend are strangers as Georgia Tech saw them all last year.
The Yellow Jackets are 5-0 all-time against Jacksonville State. Last year, Tech beat the Gamecocks 3-0 at the Buzz Classic behind a six-hit shutout by Kristen Adkins. She did not walk a batter and fanned two.
Georgia Tech is 0-2 all-time against Oregon, including a 3-0 loss last season at the Cathedral City Classic. Sam Skillingstad limited the Jackets to just four hits and had seven strikeouts.
Tech is also 5-4 all-time against Auburn after beating the Tigers 4-1 in the NCAA Tournament last year. Adkins tossed a gem as she limited Auburn to one run on four hits and the Yellow Jackets got home runs from Jen Yee and Jessica Weaver.
Sizing Up The Region
Here’s a look at the other three teams who will be vying for a spot in the Super Regionals this weekend at Mewborn Field.
No. 2 seed Oregon received an at-large bid after finishing the regular season with a 33-19 record and seventh-place standing in the Pac-10.
No. 3 seed Auburn is making its second straight appearance in the Atlanta regional. The Tigers are 31-24 and earned an at-large selection after their third-place finish in the SEC West. Auburn was the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament and lost in the first round to Florida.
Fourth-seeded Jacksonville State won the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament and secured an automatic entry to the NCAA Tournament. The Gamecocks are 30-17 overall and were the No. 2 seed in the OVC Tournament.
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 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 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 Sweep ACC Regular Season And Tournament For Second Straight Year
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 league 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).
Last weekend, the Yellow Jackets out-scored the opposition 24-4 in three games en route to their second straight and fourth overall ACC Tournament title. Tournament MVP Hope Rush had two wins in the circle, including a no-hitter in the semifinal game against North Carolina, and also hit two home runs for Tech. Kate Kuzma, Kelsi Weseman and Kristine Priebe were also named to the All-Tournament team.
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 and Yee just recently made final 10.
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.
Yee was named ACC Player of the Year recently becoming just the second Yellow Jacket to ever earn that honor. Laura Williams in 1997 is the only other Jacket to ever be named ACC Player of the Year.
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.
Yee is batting .572 (1st in ACC, 1st nationally) with a 1.261 slugging percentage (1st, 1st) and a .738 on-base percentage (1st, 1st). She has 87 runs scored (1st, 1st), 79 hits (1st), 59 RBI (1st, 32nd), 15 doubles (3rd, 106th), 26 home runs (1st, 3rd), 177 total bases (1st) and 84 walks (1st, 1st).
Walk This Way
Of Jen Yee’s 84 walks this season, she has been intentionally walked 31 times now. She has scored 75 percent of the time she’s been intentionally walked. Several others have been “unintentional walks,” however. Yee has struck out just six times all season and is the 11th toughest batter to fan in the nation.
Yee’s 31 intentional passes is a new NCAA single-season record, surpassing the 29 former Arizona State All-American Kaitlin Cochran had in 2008.
With 35 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 one of the 25 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, The 2010 ACC Freshman of the Year is 28-6 with a 1.71 ERA. She has held opponents to a .211 batting average and has thrown eight complete-game shutouts plus another combined one.
In 11 starts against ranked teams, Rush is 9-3 with a 2.24 ERA and three shutouts. Her shutouts came against No. 3 Florida, No. 16 North Carolina and No. 17 Texas A&M.
Rush has thrown three no-hitters this year, all in ACC play. One came at No. 16 UNC while the other one in the regular season was at home against Virginia Tech. Just last weekend, Rush no-hit UNC for the second time this year in the ACC semifinals.
The Stockbridge, Ga., native is first in the ACC in wins, sixth in ERA, eighth in opponent’s batting average and ninth in strikeouts.
At the plate, Rush is batting .308 with 20 home runs and 58 RBI. She is second in the ACC in both homers and RBI, while her .686 slugging percentage is tied for fourth-best.
Rush’s 20 big flies are the second-most ever by a Tech freshman and tied for third on the all-time single-season chart. She ranks eighth in the nation as well.
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 113 in 58 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 34 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. Eight 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 113 home runs are 50 more than second place North Carolina. In fact, Jen Yee (26) and Hope Rush (20) have combined to hit more home runs (46) than five other ACC schools.
Four different Jackets rank in the top 87 nationally in home runs. Jen Yee is third, while Hope Rush ranks eighth, Kristine Priebe is 34th and Kelsi Weseman is 87th.
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 48 RBI in her last 33 games after driving in just nine runs over her first 25. She has quickly moved up to third in the ACC with 57 RBI, one behind Hope Rush and two off 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 eighth in the ACC in batting with a .340 average. She also has a .686 slugging percentage (tied-fourth), .498 on-base percentage (fourth), 36 runs scored (seventh), 53 hits (tied-eighth), 15 home runs (third), 107 total bases (fifth) and 32 walks (sixth). She is also tied for second in the league having been hit by a pitch 18 times.
2009 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 two months ago.
The hot streak has raised her batting average to .333 now which ranks ninth in the ACC. She is also eighth in slugging (.649), seventh in on-base percentage (.451), second in runs (57), fifth in hits (58), fourth in RBI (51), second in doubles (17), tied for fifth in home runs (12) and fourth in total bases (113).
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 2.04 staff ERA and .216 opponent’s batting average.
Rush has made 30 starts and is 28-6 with a 1.71 ERA. She is first in the ACC in wins and sixth in ERA. Rush has eight shutouts to her credit and 160 strikeouts in 209.0 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), tied for ninth in wins and has allowed the second-fewest hits and runs among all starters.
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 8-2 and her 2.22 ERA is seventh-lowest in the ACC. Adkins and Coan have combined for seven shutouts.
The Versatile Kate Kuzma
Sophomore Kate Kuzma, who has battled through injuries for most of her young career, has done a little bit 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 five errors, while throwing out 25 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 ACC with 18 sacrifices, but also has nine home runs and 37 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.
In the ACC Championship game against Florida State, Kuzma made the Seminoles pay for intentionally walking Jen Yee. With two on and two out, Kuzma hit a three-run home run to put Tech on the board first 3-0 in the second inning. She was a second-team All-ACC pick as well as a member of the ACC All-Tournament team.