May 5, 2008
Red-Hot Yellow Jackets Travel To Maryland For 2008 ACC Championship
Georgia Tech (30-28) looks to remain red hot and earn its seventh straight trip to the NCAA Tournament as it travels up to College Park, Md., for the 2008 ACC Championship, May 8-11, at Robert E. Taylor Stadium on the campus of the University of Maryland.
The Yellow Jackets, who have won six straight, 13 of 15 and 20 of 27, will be the fourth seed in the eight-team championship. They will play fifth-seeded NC State (29-26) in the opening round on Thursday, May 8, at 5:30 p.m. The winner will then move on to play the winner of the game between No. 1 North Carolina (49-9-1) and No. 8 Virginia (15-37) on Friday afternoon, while the loser will play in the loser’s bracket that morning.
The first three days of the ACC Championship will be available live on ACC Select (http://acc.playonsports.tv/gatech), while Sunday’s championship game will be televised live on the Regional Sports Networks (FSN South, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic and New England Sports Network (NESN). Mike Hogewood and Leah Secondo will have the call at Noon.
Tech At The ACC Championship
Georgia Tech is 23-27 (.460) all-time in the ACC Championship. The Yellow Jackets have won the tournament title two times (2002 and 2005), while playing in the final game five times, including three of the last four years.
This is the second time that the championship has been hosted by the University of Maryland. Georgia Tech won the only other time back in 2005. The Jackets shut out NC State (2-0), Virginia (3-0) and Virginia Tech (1-0) en route to its second title.
Here is a breakdown of how the Jackets have done historically against the rest of the league in the championship.
Boston College 2-0 (1.000)
Florida State 3-12 (.200)
Maryland 3-5 (.375)
North Carolina 6-2 (.750)
North Carolina State 2-0 (1.000)
Virginia 6-7 (.462)
Virginia Tech 1-1 (.500)
Looking For Revenge
Georgia Tech was swept earlier this season by NC State, but that weekend in Raleigh proved to be the turning point for the Yellow Jackets this season.
Tech won 13 of the 15 games following the sweep at the hand of the Wolfpack, April 5-6. NC State, meanwhile, has gone 7-8 since that weekend.
Despite the sweep, Georgia Tech still leads the all-time series against NC State 9-7. These two teams have not played in the ACC Tournament since 2005, a 2-0 Jacket win.
What A Turn-Around
As the weather has warmed up, so have the Yellow Jackets. Tech was 10-21 on March 20, but it has gone 20-7 in the last five weeks and will enter the ACC Tournament over .500 for the first time this season.
Georgia Tech takes a season-long, six-game winning streak into Thursday’s opening round and has won 13 of its last 15 games dating back to a doubleheader sweep of No. 17/19 Georgia on April 9.
In those 15 games, Tech is hitting .305 and out-scoring the opposition 79-42. The Jackets have 36 extra-base hits, including 17 home runs in this period.
According to the official NCAA RPI, as of April 30 the Jackets sit at No. 41. Just three weeks ago, Tech had a RPI of over 100.
Haller On Fire
Junior Whitney Haller took a career .382 batting average into this season, but was in a slump for the first two months.
Prior to the April 16 doubleheader at Georgia Southern, the Marietta, Ga., native was hitting a career-low .193 but left Statesboro 30 points higher.
Haller went 6-for-7 in that doubleheader and has not cooled off since then.
She takes a season-high 10-game hitting streak into the ACC Tournament and is batting .593 (16-27) in this stretch with three doubles, four home runs, 15 RBI and a 1.815 OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage).
This 10-game streak has seen Haller break the all-time Georgia Tech home run record (Tara Knudsen-46) and tie the all-time ACC record (Jen Chamberlin, NC State-49).
Haller has been the ACC Player of the Week for the past two weeks and is now 16 RBI behind teammate Savannah Brown for the ACC record.
Humphreys has already thrown 30 more innings (197.2) than in any other season in her career and is second in the ACC with 18 wins.
The Shady Spring W. Va., native has won 10 of her last 11 starts, posting a 1.72 ERA. She has two shutouts, a save and a nearly three to one strikeout to walk ratio.
For the season, Humphreys is now 18-14 with a 1.98 ERA and .229 opponent’s batting average.
She was a back-to-back ACC Pitcher of the Week recipient in mid-April and has tossed a career-high seven shutouts so far this season.
Weaver Hits Them When It Counts
Freshman Jessica Weaver is tied for second on the team with 10 home runs this season, but certainly knows how to make them count.
The Kingston, Ga., native has hit the game-winning home run in three of the last four Georgia Tech games to close out the regular season. She accounted for the game-winner against Georgia State (April 23) and then did it again in games two and three of the Maryland series (April 26-27).
It wasn’t a big fly, but Weaver added a a clutch game-tying, two-run single as part of Tech’s three-run rally to beat #17/19 Georgia on April 9 to her resume as well
Weaver homered in each of her first three games, this year as well, including one in her first official at bat against Lipscomb (Feb. 9). She walked in her first plate appearance.
Tech Sweeps Georgia For Second Straight Season
Before head coach Sharon Perkins arrived, Georgia Tech had just five wins all-time against its arch-rival Georgia. Perkins, who was on the Georgia staff for six seasons, is now 4-0 against the Bulldogs after her Jackets pulled off their second straight sweep on April 9 at Glenn Field.
A two-run single by freshman Jessica Weaver and a RBI double from freshman Amanda Crow in the bottom of the sixth inning helped the Jackets come back from a 3-1 deficit and take a 4-3 win in game two.
Freshman Emily Schreck allowed just one unearned run in four innings of relief in game two as she improved to 5-3 on the season.
Brown Breaks RBI Marks
With a two-run single against NC State, senior Savannah Brown set a new ACC RBI record of 182 surpassing the previous mark of 181 held by Virginia’s Sara Larquier.
Earlier this season, Brown broke Anne Knobbe’s all-time Georgia Tech record of 172.
Brown is also moving up the home run charts. The San Diego, Calif., native currently has 45 career long balls. That places her third in school history, four behind teammate Whitney Haller.
Brown is also sixth in school history in doubles (36), tied for fourth in total bases (379) and tied for fourth in walks (99).
Haller New Home Run Queen
While Brown has assaulted the RBI records, Haller has set her sights on the Georgia Tech and ACC home run charts.
With a walk-off, three-run home run against Georgia State on April 23, Haller became the new Georgia Tech home run queen, surpassing Tara Knudsen’s mark of 46. What’s amazing is that Haller has done it as a junior and will still have the rest of this year and her entire senior season to add onto it.
She didn’t stop there though. A long ball in each of the first two games against Maryland on April 26 has moved Haller into a tie with NC State’s Jen Chamberlin atop the ACC record books with 49.
Haller is also creeping up on the RBI chart as well. She now has 177, which is good for second-place all-time at Tech and third in the ACC annals. She is 16 behind teammate Savannah Brown, who currently holds both records.
Morales On Fire
On Feb. 29, senior Aileen Morales was hitting .250, nearly 50 points behind her career average. She heated up as the weather got warmer and has not cooled off.
The Columbus, Ga., native hit a robust .400 for the month of March and has continued this streak into April. Morales is batting .380 since March 1, a span of 43 games. She has 41 runs scored, seven doubles, four triples, six home runs, 24 RBI and a 1.103 OPS.
Morales is 40-for-42 in stolen base attempts during this time period and committed just six errors in 146 chances at the shortstop position.
Jones Finds Her Groove
Morales is not the only one who has heated up with the weather. Freshman Christy Jones has hit .334 since March 1 to see her average rise up from .200 to its current mark of .288.
A Wichita, Kansas, native, Jones has reached base at a 40 percent clip since March 1 despite moving around in the order. It doesn’t matter if Jones was batting second, eighth or ninth, she still was able to get on base and then steal bases.
Jones is fourth on the team with 26 runs scored and third with 29 stolen bases. Her 29 thefts are the 33rd-most in the nation.
Her defense has also continued to improve throughout the year and was never more evident than on April 9 against Georgia. With a runner on first base and one out, UGA pinch hitter Jennie Auger hit a line drive headed for the gap in left-centerfield, but Jones came out of nowhere to make a diving catch. She made the grab diving towards centerfield with her body completely parallel to the ground.
Morales An On Base Machine
Senior Aileen Morales has been the leadoff hitter for most of her Tech career and has more than done her job of getting on base.
The Columbus, Ga., native has reached base safely at least once in 239 of her 260 career games. She led off for much of the 2005 season, but spent the first half of 2006 bouncing around the lineup.
Since becoming the primary leadoff hitter on April 8, 2006 against NC State, Morales has reached base safely all but 12 games.
Morales leads the team and is among the ACC leaders for most offensive categories. She is hitting .347 with 45 runs scored, eight doubles, five triples, six home runs and 28 RBI. She hit her first career grand slam March 22 at Coastal Carolina.
In addition, Morales has a .555 slugging percentage and a .427 on-base percentage from the leadoff spot.
Morales Swipes Her Way Into Record Books
Earlier this season, Morales became Tech’s all-time stolen base leader and is still building on that. She is up to 151 in her career. That is also fourth in ACC history behind a trio of Florida State players. FSU’s Myssi Calkins is the all-time leader with 185.
Morales was a perfect 32-for-32 in stolen base attempts this season until NC State’s Alyssa Allbritten gunned her down trying to nab third base on April 5.
Morales is 44-for-46 this season which ranks her first in the ACC and seventh in the nation. Each of her four single-season stolen base tallies rank in the top five all-time at Tech and she has tied her own single-season record. Morales also had 44 stolen bases in 2005.
Morales is also closing in on the ACC runs scored record. With a Georgia Tech record 213 runs scored in her career, Morales now needs just 11 more to pass Florida State’s Shamalene Wilson.
Shimandle Quietly Gets It Done
With the power surge in the Georgia Tech lineup the last couple of years, junior Blair Shimandle has quietly gone about her business and been one of Tech’s most consistent hitters.
Originally from Ohio, the LaGrange, Ga., native has hit over .300 in each of her first two seasons and carried a career .317 average coming into the 2008 campaign.
Shimandle began the year by going a career-high 4-for-4 against Lipscomb on Feb. 9 and has not not missed a beet since then.
Shimandle is currently second on the team with a .326 batting average and also has 28 runs, five doubles, three triples, one home run and 25 RBI.
Shimandle’s lone home run, a two-run shot at Kennesaw State March 12, was her first long ball in two years. She hit four as a freshman in 2006.
She is 36-for-41 in stolen base attempts this season to rank tied for second in the ACC and 20th in the nation.
Defense Wins Championships
Georgia Tech will take a seven-game errorless streak into the ACC Championship and it’s no coincidence that Tech’s winning streak in April has coincided with solid D. The Jackets have a .972 fielding percentage for the month of April and are currently second in the ACC at .968 for the year.
One of the reasons for the great turn-around has been senior Brittany Barnes at third base. In the last two weeks, Barnes has made some incredible plays at the hot corner as Tech prepares for postseason play.
Johnson Returns At The Right Time
Junior pitcher Tiffany Johnson missed 26 games with an injury, but has come back stronger than ever for the stretch run.
Since returning, the Atlanta native is 2-0 with one save and a 1.05 ERA. She has allowed just three runs in 20 innings while limiting opponents to a .203 batting average.
Crow Comes Through In The Clutch
Freshman Amanda Crow has just 14 hits this season in a part-time role, but two of them have been extremely timely.
The first game-winning hit for the freshman from Sharpsburg, Ga., was also her first career hit. She stroked a RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning to cap a come-from-behind Tech win on Feb. 15 against Middle Tennessee State.
More recently, Crow delivered the game-winning RBI double, also in the bottom of the sixth inning, against Georgia on April 9.
Crow whacked her first career home run against Georgia State on April 23, as she went back-to-back with senior Brittany Barnes.
Don’t Run On Butler
If they don’t know already, opponents are certainly going to hesitate trying to score when Tech centerfielder Stephanie Butler has the ball.
The Burbank, Calif., native has seven outfield assists already this season, including four at home plate. Butler had just four outfield assists all of last season.
She has also made a hand full of highlight-reel catches in centerfield this season.
Barnes Digs The Long Ball
Senior Brittany Barnes did not let an early season injury keep her from leading the team in home runs for the regular season. Barnes has 11 long big flies so far in 2008 and has is fifth in school history with 31 despite this just being her season season on The Flats.