Feb. 29, 2008
COLUMBUS, Ga. – The Georgia Tech Softball Team (5-10) dropped two hard-fought games on the first day of the NFCA Leadoff Classic. In game one, Auburn (13-1) scored three runs without a ball leaving the infield and hung on for a 3-2 win. The night-cap saw No. 2/3 Texas A&M (20-2) pitcher Rhiannon Kliesing toss a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts in a 2-0 win. Savannah Brown and Blair Shimandle combined for six of Tech’s eight hits on the day, while Whitney Haller hit her first home run of the season.
In the bottom of the second inning, Tech freshman pitcher Stephanie Morris got into some trouble. A hit batsman and pair of walks gave Auburn the bases loaded and just one out. Morris came back to get a pair of ground outs to junior Tiffany Johnson at third base to get out of the jam and send the game to the third inning scoreless.
Morris loaded the bases again in the fourth on a walk, single and hit batsman and this time Auburn was able to take advantage. The Tigers scored three runs on consecutive singles that never left the infield. Brittany Scott hit one that Morris knocked down and deflected to senior Aileen Morales at shortstop. Morales smothered it but did not have a play allowing one run to score. Taryn Gray then hit a ball ticketed for center field that Morales dove up the middle for, but it deflected off her glove and towards senior Brittany Barnes at second base. Two runs were able to score giving Auburn a 3-0 advantage. Morris was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.
Auburn pitcher Anna Thompson was on cruise control until the Jackets tried to mount a two-out rally in the fifth. A single by senior by Savannah Brown broke up a string of 12 straight batters retired by Thomson. Brown went to third base when freshman Jessica Weaver dumped a single into right field, but freshman pinch hitter Amanda Crow struck out to end the threat.
Tech got two runs back in the top of the sixth. Morales led off with a walk, was sacrificed to second base by freshman Christy Jones, stole third base and then scored on a ground out by Shimandle. Junior Whitney Haller then made it a 3-2 game when she crushed a 2-1 pitch over the fence in left field. It was her first home run of the season and 40th of her career, moving her six shy of tying Tara Knudsen for the school record.
Morris allowed two more walks in the bottom of the sixth inning, but was able to get out of the inning so the Yellow Jackets came up in the seventh inning needing one run to tie the game. Brown singled with one out, but Thompson came back to strike out Weaver and freshman pinch hitter Carolina Hilton to complete the Auburn win.
Thompson (7-1) finished with 10 strikeouts and allowed two runs, both earned, on five hits and a walk. Morris (2-3) allowed three earned runs on four hits and five walks. She struck out two batters.
Game two against No. 2/3 Texas A&M shaped up to be a pitcher’s duel between Tech senior Whitney Humphreys and Aggie freshman Rhiannon Kliesing. Through the first three innings, junior Blair Shimandle had the only hit for either team leading off the bottom of the first inning, but was quickly erased trying to steal second base.
Jamie Hinshaw hit a two-out, ground-rule double in the fourth inning for the first Texas A&M hit of the game off Humphreys. Humphreys then hit Erin Glasco to put to Aggies on, but got a big strike out of Macie Morrow to get out of the inning and keep it a scoreless game.
The Aggies broke the scoreless tie with two runs in the fifth inning. They loaded the bases on Humphreys with nobody out on a hit batter, her third of the game, and two singles. Humphreys got a big first our of the inning when Natalie Villarreal popped out to second base, but Jami Lobpries stroked a two-run single into center field making it 2-0 Texas A&M. Tech centerfielder Stephanie Butler was able to throw Kelsey Spittler out trying to go from first base to third base for the inning’s second out. For Butler, it was her team-high sixth outfield assist of the season. Humphreys got A&M All-American Megan Gibson to fly out to center field ending the inning and keeping it a 2-0 game.
Tech tried to get at least one of the runs back in the bottom of the inning as Brown doubled to the alley in right-center field, but Barnes popped up to shortstop to end the frame.
Humphreys did her part the rest of the way keeping the Aggies off the scoreboard in the sixth and seventh innings, but the Tech offense still needed two runs to tie in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Kielsing seemed to get stronger as the game went on and retired the Jackets in order in the seventh ending the game and sending Tech to its third straight loss. She went the distance to improve to 6-0 on the year. She scattered three hits, struck out 10 and did not walk a batter.
Humphreys (1-5) was the hard-luck loser. She allowed two earned runs on four hits and one walk wile striking out four.
The NFCA Leadoff Classic runs through Sunday at the South Commons Complex, site of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The Yellow Jackets will face Hofstra at 4:00 p.m. and then Charlotte at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow before closing out the round-robin tournament against No. 19/19 DePaul on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Live stats for every game will be available via the Gametracker link at www.ramblinwreck.com.