Feb. 11, 2009
Georgia Tech Heads Back To Gainesville For Lipton Invitational
The Georgia Tech Softball Team, fresh off a 3-1 opening weekend, heads to Gainesville, Fla., this weekend for the Lipton Invitational.
Gainesville is the site of the last two NCAA Tournaments that the Yellow Jackets have participated in. They were 1-2 in each of the past two seasons at the Gainesville Regional.
The Lipton Invitational is a three-day, round-robin tournament. Tech will face Florida Atlantic (8:00 a.m.) and South Alabama (12:30 p.m.) on Friday, Texas Tech (10:15 p.m.) and Coastal Carolina (7:15 p.m.) on Saturday and then close out the tournament against the No. 2 Gators on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Live audio and stats of all Georgia Tech games will be available at www.ramblinwreck.com.
Against The Field
The Yellow Jackets are 2-3 against Florida Atlantic, but the two teams have not met since the 2005 season when Tech was a 10-4 winner in the FAU Worth Invitational.
The Jackets are 4-6 against Coastal Carolina, but swept a doubleheader in Myrtle Beach, S.C. last season. In game one, senior Whitney Humphreys retired 16 straight batters at one point as the Jackets won 2-1. In game two against the Lady Chanticleers, Tech scored a season-high 10 runs en route to a 10-2 win in five innings. With four RBI in game two, Savannah Brown became Tech’s all-time RBI leader as she surpassed Anne Knobbe’s previous mark of 172. Aileen Morales hit her first career grand slam in game two as well while Jessica Weaver was 3-for-3 with a home run and two RBI. Emily Schreck earned her second win in as many starts for the Jackets in the night cap.
Florida owns a 4-0 record against Georgia Tech. The top-ranked Gators defeated the Jackets, 7-2, in the opening round of last year’s NCAA Tournament. The first four batters reached base capped off by a grand slam by Francesca Enea giving the Gators an early 4-0 lead against Humphreys. Morales was on base four times for the Jackets as she had a pair of doubles, a walk and was hit by a pitch. Florida All-American pitcher Stacey Nelson was charged with two runs, one earned, on four hits and three walks. She had seven strikeouts.
Tech has never faced either South Alabama or Texas Tech.
Perkins Closing In On 100
Georgia Tech Head Coach Sharon Perkins is now 11 wins shy of 100 in her career. Perkins is 89-48 (.650) in her first two-plus seasons as a head coach.
Perkins came to Tech after being an associate head coach and assistant coach at Georgia. Since taking over the reigns at Tech, Perkins is 4-0 against UGA. Those four wins represent nearly twice as many wins (5) as the Yellow Jackets had before she arrived on The Flats.
One Down, One To Go For Haller
Senior Whitney Haller came into the season needing just one home run for the ACC record and she wasted no time in taking care of business. Haller took Georgia State pitcher Madi Gore deep on the fourth pitch of her at bat in the top of the first inning for her 50th career home run surpassing NC State’s Jen Chamberlin.
For good measure, Haller added a three-run home run later in the game for her fourth career two-homer game. All this in the first game of the season.
The Marietta, Ga., native is also closing in on the Georgia Tech and ACC career RBI marks. After driving in nine runs on Tech’s opening weekend at Georgia State and Furman, Haller is now seven RBI behind former teammate Savannah Brown. Brown knocked in 194 runs during her four-year career at Tech, most in school and league history.
Freshmen Make Immediate Impacts On Opening Weekend
For a trio of Georgia Tech freshmen, it was quite a way to start their careers. Kate Kuzma, Jessica Sinclair and Kelsi Weseman each started at least three games against Georgia State and Furman and had solid contributions all weekend long.
Weseman began her career reaching base safely in her first five plate appearances and batted .300 for the weekend with two runs scored, a double, triple, RBI, .600 slugging percentage and .533 on-base percentage. She did not commit an error while starting four games at shortstop.
Sinclair recorded her first career hit in the sixth inning against Georgia State on Feb. 7 and was solid in right field all weekend long.
Kate Kuzma led the team with a .600 average, scored three runs, hit a double and also blasted her first career home run. The Sharpsburg, Ga., native compiled an almost unheard of 2.233 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).
In her first weekend as a Yellow Jacket, Kuzma reached base safely in 10 of 12 plate appearances.
Yee On USA Softball Player of the Year Watch List
Redshirt junior Jen Yee was one of 50 players named to the USA Softball Player of the Year Watch List last month. Yee, who sat out last year to play on the Canadian Olympic team, batted .343 with 24 extra-base hits and 53 RBI for Tech in 2007.
Yee transferred to Georgia Tech in 2007 after playing one season at Niagara in Buffalo, N.Y.
Yee batted .333 with a .625 on-base percentage on opening weekend. She scored three runs and also stole a pair of bases.
The Amateur Softball Association will announce the 25 finalists on April 1. A player does not have to appear on the initial watch list to be considered as a top 25 finalist. However, once the top 25 finalists are named the winner of the award will come from that list.
Just days before the start of post-season play, a list of 10 finalists will be named and released on May 6. The final three finalists will be announced May 20 while the winner of the 2009 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be announced prior to the start of the 2009 NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
Adkins Enjoys Solid First Weekend
Sophomore Kristen Adkins enjoyed a solid start to her Georgia Tech career, going 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in her first two appearances last weekend.
Adkins, who transferred to Tech last month from the University of Florida, started game two of both series’ last weekend against Georgia State and Furman. She allowed just one earned run on 11 hits and only one walk while striking out six.
Johnson Ready To Be The Ace
After missing more than a month with injuries last year, senior pitcher Tiffany Johnson is ready to be the team’s number one pitcher.
Johnson went 1-1 on opening weekend with a 1.66 ERA. She had 14 strikeouts in 12.2 innings of work, including 10 against Georgia State on Feb. 7. This marked her fourth multiple-strikeout game at Tech.
Johnson burst onto the scene in 2007 after transferring from Florida A&M and went 17-6 for the Jackets with a 2.22 ERA. She averaged 8.4 strikeouts per game and 1.2 an inning.
Shimandle Steady As They Come
If senior Blair Shimandle was in the Majors, she would likely be labeled a professional hitter. The LaGrange, Ga., native has been about as steady as you can be in her first three years at Georgia Tech.
After hitting .305 as a freshman, Shimandle has batted .330 in each of her last two seasons for a .321 career mark.
Shimandle wasted no time in picking right up where she left off in the Yellow Jackets’ opener last weekend against Georgia State and Furman. She batted .471 with four runs scored, two RBI and three stolen bases.
From the leadoff spot, Shimandle had three multi-hit games last weekend, including two three-hit games already.
Defensively, Shimandle has moved from right field to center field this year but not missed a beat. She has not committed an error since April 1, 2007. That is a span of 94 games.
Jones Adds To The Deadly 1-2 Punch
Between Shimandle leading off and sophomore Christy Jones in the two spot, the heart of the Georgia Tech order should have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs this season.
Jones batted .500 and was on base eight times last weekend against Georgia State and Furman. She and Shimandle scored nearly half the times they reached base.
A native of Wichita, Kan., Jones has reached base safely in all four games this season and already has three multi-hit games to her credit.
Jones was 30-for-33 stealing bases last season and has begun the year 6-for-7 already.
Weaver Hits Them When It Counts
Sophomore catcher Jessica Weaver burst onto the collegiate scene in style last year at Georgia State as she homered in each of her first three games.
She actually homered in her first official at bats a monstrous shot that bounced off the roof of the indoor batting facility of Georgia State’s Bob Heck Field.
Weaver then closed out the regular season by delivering the game-winning home run in three of the last four games. 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 of last season to her resume as well.
Barnes, Morales Still Find Ways To Contribute
Morales has joined the coaching staff this year as an undergrad assistant while she completes the last semester towards her degree.
Barnes, meanwhile, will move up into the broadcaster’s booth. She will join Seth Gerard and Mike Huff from the Sports Information Office for Internet broadcasts this year. Barnes will add color commentary to all home games as well as selected road games.
To Be The Best, You Need To Beat The Best
Since taking over at Georgia Tech three years ago, Sharon Perkins has brought an aggressive non-conference schedule to the Flats and that was probably the reason the Jackets made the NCAA Tournament last year.
Tech was just one game over .500 on Selection Sunday, but still heard its name called when the brackets were announced. Despite the record, the Jackets’ impressive RPI and strength of schedule went a long way in the eyes of the committee.
This year will be no different. The Jackets are slated to play half of last year’s Women’s College World Series Field (Florida, Louisiana-Lafayette, Virginia Tech and Alabama).
Tech will play a total of 12 teams either ranked or receiving votes in the 2009 NFCA Preseason poll. This includes teams in the top 10 as well as the No. 1 team in the nation — Florida.
No. 3 Alabama will come to Atlanta this year and could be the highest ranked opponent Tech has ever faced at home.
The Georgia Tech Softball Program will say goodbye to Glenn Field and open a brand-new sparkling stadium next month.
This new on-campus facility will be located at the corner of Fowler and 8th Streets and in the middle of many athletic venues.
This new facility will give the Jackets one of the finest facilities in the ACC and the region, as well as providing one of the best back-drops in the nation. Night games will be something to see with the downtown and midtown Atlanta skylines looming over the field.