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She Who Laughs First . . .

April 2, 2010

by Jon Cooper, Associate Editor

ATLANTA — There is something about Kristine Priebe.

What is it, you may ask?

It seems just about everything. Just the mention of the Moorpark, Calif., native’s name was enough to start softball coach Sharon Perkins laughing.

“She’s just a trip,” said Perkins. “We really didn’t know a lot about her and she’s come in and fit in really well. She’s just fun. She makes me laugh every day.”

Priebe has done plenty to make Perkins smile.

Heading into the 2010 season, Tech was looking to replace Whitney Haller, who graduated as the ACC’s all-time career leader in home runs and RBI.

Enter Priebe, who knew of Georgia Tech only from having twice watched them lose, while she was a member of the opposing Florida Gators.

Entering the season, she had never played more than 29 games in either of her two seasons in Gainesville. She decided to leave and found Atlanta just to her liking.

“Georgia Tech was the right fit for me at the time and everything worked out perfectly,” said Priebe. “I don’t know if I came in to replace anybody or anything like that. I just wanted to come in and do my best and play my best. If good things happened, then that’s just a plus.”

Right now that would be an A-plus!

Priebe heads into the weekend series with Virginia Tech ranked third on the team in hitting (.338), second in on-base percentage (.477, sixth in the ACC) tied for third on the team in hits (23), third in walks (15, fifth in the conference), and fourth in doubles (4).

Surprise, surprise!

“We didn’t know what she could do defensively, we didn’t know what she could do offensively,” said Perkins. “To have her climbing the batting order and being a solid RBI producer and someone we could count on has been phenomenal. We’ve been really proud of her.”

Actually one person did know about Priebe — pitcher/third baseman Kristen Adkins. Adkins knew all about the big bat that Priebe wields, as the two were good friends as teammates at Florida in 2008, the year before Adkins transferred to Tech.

“I just remembered her being an awesome hitter,” said Adkins. “She’s a decent-sized girl and she has lots of strength. When she squares one up it goes a pretty long way.”

The ball has been going a real long way since Perkins moved Priebe into the clean-up spot. Priebe is hitting .400, with three homers, 11 RBI, a .644 slugging percentage and a .525 on-base percentage, with nine runs scored. She’s hit in 10 of 12 games and is riding a six-game hitting streak, currently the longest on the team and the third-longest all season. Priebe solidified a position that bona fide sluggers Hope Rush (.200 in nine games, 3 HR, 6 RBI), Jessica Sinclair (.174 in six games, 1 HR, 5 RBI) and Caitlin Jordan (.250, in three games, 1 RBI) could not.

“She battles well,” said Perkins. “What we noticed early about her was that she has really good at-bats. She’s really patient and she’ll foul pitches off until she gets her pitch.”

In addition to filling the offensive vacuum, she’s proved to be one defensively in pickin’ ’em at a .989 percentage with just two errors in 184 chances.

That Priebe’s come in and been a hero — albeit a modest one — shouldn’t be surprising. Her mother, Cindy, is a firefighter, her dad, Joe, is a retired member of the LAPD (he will be in town to watch his daughter battle the Hokies this weekend). Kristine has chosen to be a firefighter as a career.

“I didn’t decide I wanted to be a firefighter until I got to college,” she said. “It sort of was a process of elimination of other things. It was the best choice out of everything I was considering.”

No doubt about it, Priebe is a special breed. She’s also the lone Californian on the roster, and she admits she’s taking full advantage of that.

“It’s kind of nice because whenever I do or say something that’s out of the ordinary I can just blame it on being from California,” she said with a laugh. “We kind of joke about it on the team.”

It’s a joke the entire team enjoys being in on.

“She’s come in and just been herself,” said Perkins “She’s a free-spirit. She’s a blast. She really is. She’s fun every day.”

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