May 15, 2005
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Jessica Sallinger, the Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year backed up her selection as the best pitcher in the conference with her second shutout of the tournament and 3-0 record, not allowing a single run, en route to earning ACC Tournament MVP honors to lead No. 16 Georgia Tech (49-12) over seventh-seeded Virginia Tech (43-23), 1-0, in the ACC Championship game on Sunday.
The NCAA field of 64 was announced Sunday night, and Georgia Tech was selected to compete in the Athens, Ga., Regional, which begins Friday on the campus of the University of Georgia. Tech opens against Kansas, while No. 10 national seed Georgia takes on Tennessee Tech. Times and other details will be announced Monday.
“Our bats were quiet all tournament long and we were going to need a shutout from Sallinger to win this championship,” said head coach Ehren Earleywine. “She is a big game pitcher and she stepped up her game again.
“We’ve accomplished our second goal, winning the regular season and tournament titles, and we’re going to sit back and enjoy this one until Tuesday or Wednesday. Then we’re going to get ready to compete in the Regional when we find out where we will be playing.”
Sallinger, a native of Kennesaw, Ga., moved into fourth all-time in the NCAA with 1,378 career strikeouts and became the ACC’s all-time winningest pitcher with her 108th career victory.
“It was very exciting to win our second ACC Championship,” said Sallinger. “I’m honored to win MVP honors and I was just trying to pitch as well as I could to give my team a chance to win.”
Sophomore Caitlin Lever drove in the game’s only run in the bottom of the fifth inning on an infield single to lead the Yellow Jackets offensively. Senior Kirin Kumar went 1-for-2, and freshman Kavey Ivey finished 1-for-1, with the only run scored.
The championship game took on the same format that most of the ACC Tournament games followed with a pitcher’s duel between Sallinger and the Hokies’ Katie Maynard. Neither pitcher allowed a base hit through the first three innings.
VT’s Kelly Brown was the first base runner for the Hokies with a leadoff walk in the top of the fourth inning and stole second base after the Yellow Jackets had her picked off of first base and took off for second, sliding in under the tag. Caitlin Murphy followed with a bloop single to center field to put runners at first and second with no outs. The Hokies moved the runners over to second and third on a sacrifice bunt and the Jackets intentionally walked Meghan Evans to load the bases, but Sallinger pitcher her way out of the jam with a strikeout and a pop out to second base in foul territory.
Ivey broke up Maynard’s no-hit bid with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning with a slap hit to the pitcher that was just out of Maynard’s reach. Ivey then stole second base and Kumar posted an infield single to place runners at first and third. Kumar advanced to second base on a ground out to the pitcher, but Lever put the Jackets ahead 1-0 with an RBI infield single to third base to plate Ivey. After Lever stole second base, junior Christine Sheridan drew a walk to load the bases, but Maynard retired the side with a ground out to second base.
The Hokies came to bat in the top of the seventh inning down by one, trying to mount a comeback against Sallinger for the second time this season. Sallinger would not let it happen for a second time, retiring the side in order to lift the Yellow Jackets to their second ACC title in four seasons.
Maynard was the hard-luck loser in the circle for the Hokies, working six innings, allowing three hits and one earned run, while striking out four.
Junior Amy Hosier, Kumar, Sheridan and Sallinger earned ACC All-Tournament honors.