April 27, 2010
#9/7 Georgia Tech Concludes Regular Season This Week Against Alabama and NC State
The No. 9/7 Georgia Tech Softball team (43-8, 16-1 ACC) closes out the regular season with games this week against No. 4/4 Alabama (39-9) and NC State (28-23, 9-9 ACC).
The Yellow Jackets open the week with a single game in Tuscaloosa Wednesday night at 7 p.m. (ET) and then head up to Raleigh this weekend for a three-game series against NC State. The Jackets and Wolfpack play a doubleheader at 1 p.m. on Saturday before wrapping up the regular season with a single game Sunday at 1 p.m.
Tech has already clinched its second straight ACC regular season title and the No. 1 seed in next month’s conference tournament, but can extend their ACC record of consecutive series wins to 17 by winning at least two games in Raleigh.
Live audio and stats for all four games can be found at www.RamblinWreck.com. Seth Gerard and Caroline Hilton have the call beginning 10 minutes before the scheduled first pitch.
The game against Alabama is Tech’s fifth straight against a ranked team and 15th of the season. The Jackets are 9-5 in those contests. In addition, Georgia Tech is 4-2 this year against the SEC.
Tech vs. Alabama
Alabama leads the all-time series against Georgia Tech 11-3 now after sweeping a doubleheader (8-0, 10-0) at Mewborn Field last season. The Crimson Tide have won the last seven games in the series, while Tech’s last win was by a 1-0 score on April 13, 2004, at Glenn Field.
Georgia Tech’s last win in Tuscaloosa was on April 26, 2003. The Jackets beat the 17th-ranked Tide 2-1 after dropping Game One of the doubleheader, 3-2.
Tech vs. NC State
Georgia Tech is now 11-8 all-time against NC State after sweeping the Wolfpack in a three-game series at Mewborn Field last season.
Kristen Adkins won all three games of the weekend series last year as she allowed just five hits and two walks in 14.0 innings. She had 12 strikeouts and pitched two complete-game shutouts.
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 ninth 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 18 straight NFCA polls and 20 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 16 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 43-7 (.860) 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. 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 four 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.
Yee begins play this week tied with Morales for the career runs scored record at Tech (216) as well as tied with Kudsen atop the all-time doubles chart (54).
Through 51 games, Yee is batting .579 (1st in ACC, 1st nationally) with a 1.302 slugging percentage (1st, 1st) and a .730 on-base percentage (1st, 1st). She has 80 runs scored (1st, 1st), 73 hits (1st), 54 RBI (1st, 28th), 14 doubles (3rd, 91st), 25 home runs (1st, T-1st), 164 total bases (1st) and 68 walks (1st, 1st).
Walk This Way
Of Jen Yee’s 68 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 sixth 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 32 appearances in the circle, Rush is 24-5 with a 1.45 ERA. She has held opponents to a .210 batting average and has thrown seven complete-game shutouts plus another combined one.
In 10 starts against ranked teams, Rush is 8-2 with a 1.75 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 second in the ACC in wins, fourth in ERA, eighth in opponent’s batting average and ninth in strikeouts.
At the plate, Rush is batting .295 with 15 home runs and 46 RBI. She is second in the ACC in homers and third in RBI. Her .624 slugging percentage is eighth-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 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 99 in 51 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 29 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 99 home runs are 35 more than second place North Carolina. In fact, with 25 round-trippers Jen Yee has more than two other ACC schools by herself.
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 42 RBI in her last 26 games after driving in just nine runs over her first 25. She has quickly moved up to second in the ACC with 51 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 tied for seventh in the ACC in batting now with a .331 average. She also has a .683 slugging percentage (fifth), .481 on-base percentage (fourth), 46 hits (10th), 14 home runs (third), 95 total bases (tied-fifth) and 25 walks (tied-seventh). She is also second in the league having been hit by a pitch 16 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 lately since Tech’s Spring Break trip to her home state of Texas.
The hot streak has raised her batting average to .331 now which ranks tied for seventh in the ACC. She is also ninth in slugging (.623), ninth in on-base percentage (.444), second in runs (48), tied for fifth in hits (51), fourth in RBI (44), second in doubles (16), tied for 10th in home runs (9) and fourth in total bases (96).
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 1.86 staff ERA and .213 opponent’s batting average.
Rush has made 25 starts and is 24-5 with a 1.45 ERA. She ranks second in the ACC in wins and fourth in ERA. Rush has seven shutouts to her credit and 145 strikeouts in 184.0 innings.
Coan is 13-1 with a 2.12 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 111 batters in 76.0 innings. She ranks seventh in the ACC in ERA, fifth in opponent’s batting average (.177), 10th in strikeouts, ninth in wins and has allowed the 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 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 1.30 ERA in nine appearances. She has 46 strikeouts and just eight walks and 20 hits allowed in 32.1 innings.
Adkins, the 2009 ACC Tournament MVP, is 6-2 and her 2.47 ERA 10th-lowest in the ACC. Adkins and Coan have combined for six shutouts giving Tech 13 as a team.
Coan Lights Out In Relief
It hasn’t happened a lot, but when Jessica Coan has been brought into a game in relief, she has more than delivered. In six relief outings, Coan has allowed just three earned runs in 12.0 innings for a 1.75 ERA. She has given up just six hits and five walks, while striking out 21 batters.
Coan has allowed only three of 12 inherited runners to score and those came on a sac fly, passed ball and suicide squeeze. On two occasions, she has come into a game with the bases loaded and no outs.
The Versatile Kate Kuzma
Sophomore Kate Kuzma, who has battled through injuries for most of her young career, has done a little but of its 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 31 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 13 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.