May 12, 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With another stellar pitching performance by ACC Rookie of the Year Jessica Sallinger, the Georgia Tech softball team (49-16, 6-2 ACC) defeated North Carolina, 6-2, to capture its first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference softball championship at the Seminole Softball Complex.
Sallinger, who allowed just one earned run in 23 innings in the championship, allowed six hits and three walks to pick up the win. She moves to 25-7 on the season and now has 287 strikeouts on the season, which is a new Tech career record. She was named tournament MVP for her efforts.
The Tar Heels jumped out early on a solo homer by catcher Natalie Anter to center field. The second-inning blast just cleared the fence, landing in the outfield bushes and giving North Carolina a 1-0 lead. The run was the first allowed by Tech in the tournament after 17 scoreless innings.
Tech responded with an unearned run in the bottom of the inning to knot the score at one. Catcher Lindsay Wood led off the inning with a single, her fourth hit of the tournament. Right fielder Soraya Reddick then reached on a fielder’s choice and center fielder Sara Wissmann walked to set up the run-scoring play. As third baseman Jamie Frost grounded to short, North Carolina second baseman Emily Price fumbled the toss from shortstop Dionne Streete. That allowed Wissmann to reach second and Reddick to score on the play.
|Georgia Tech celebrates after capturing its first-ever ACC Championship.|
The Jackets then added five runs in the bottom of the third, increasing the margin to 6-1. Second baseman Felicia Coursey walked and first baseman Katie Donovan singled before both advanced on a passed ball to put runners on second and third. Shortstop Tara Knudsen walked to load the bases. Wood then reached on a fielder’s choice with UNC third baseman Jessica Young bobbling the ball on an attempted throw home. Coursey scored on the error. A Reddick single up the middle then scored Donovan, increasing the lead to 3-1. Tech closed out the scoring as Frost singled off Young’s glove to drive in two, and designated player Mimi Utt doubled to left to score the final run of the inning.
North Carolina threatened to get back into the game in the fourth, as the Tar Heels loaded the bases with no outs. Sallinger then buckled down, fanning the next three batters to get out of the inning.
UNC cut the lead to 6-2 as center fielder Tiffany Tolleson scored from third on a passed ball in the fifth. The Tar Heels loaded the bases in both the fourth and fifth innings but were only able to push one run across.
The four run cushion was plenty for Sallinger, whose 10 strikeouts Sunday gave her 29 for the tournament, a championship record. The former mark of 26 was set by Virginia’s Michelle Collins in 1994. She now has 12 double-digit strikeout games this season.
At the plate, Reddick went 2-for-3 with a RBI to lead the Jackets. She joins Sallinger, Wood and Donovan on the all-tournament team.
Quinn Porter led North Carolina with two hits. Starter Shannon Walsh allowed only two earned runs but took the loss. Georgia Tech is now 4-0 on the season against the Tar Heels.
Tech will learn Sunday night if its season will continue. Bids to the 2002 NCAA Softball Championships will be announced at 9 p.m., but the ACC champion does not receive an automatic berth. The selection show will be broadcast on ESPN News.