Feb. 18, 2009
ATLANTA – The Georgia Tech softball team (6-2) heads out West this weekend to participate in the 2009 Cathedral City Classic, just outside of Palm Springs, Calif. More than half the teams in this year’s field are ranked in the top 25. The Yellow Jackets will face UNLV, Loyola Marymount, Oregon, Cal Poly and Oregon State.
Georgia Tech Returns To California For Cathedral City Classic
The Georgia Tech Softball Team, fresh off a second-place finish at the Lipton Invitational in Gainesville, Fla., heads out west for the Cathedral City Classic just outside of Palm Springs, Calif.
This is the first trip to California for the Yellow Jackets since 2007 when they were swept in a two-game series by San Diego State.
Overall, the Yellow Jackets are 9-12 (.429) in California.
The 32-team tournament field showcases some of the most prestigious softball programs in the country, with 20 of the 32 2008 NCAA Tournament teams including four of the eight teams that competed in the 2008 Women’s College World Series, Alabama, Florida, UCLA and the 2008 National Champions — the Arizona State Sun Devils. The tournament also features 22 NFCA All-Americans and 13 teams ranked in the NFCA preseason poll.
All Tech games once again this weekend will be broadcast at www.ramblinwreck.com free of charge. Seth Gerard will be joined by former Tech stand-outs and California natives Savannah Brown and Stephanie Butler on the broadcast.
Against The Field
The Yellow Jackets are facing five teams they are not very familiar with. This will be the first-ever meetings against Cal Poly, Loyola Marymount and UNLV, while Tech is just 0-1 all-time against both Oregon and Oregon State.
The Jackets dropped a tough 2-1 game to No. 23 Oregon on March 7, 2003, in the National Invitational Tournament held in Sunnyvale, Calif.
Tech lost to No. 17 Oregon State, 4-1, the next day out in California.
The Yellow Jackets will be looking for just their second-ever win against a team from the Pac-10 Conference. They are 1-8 all-time against what many consider the best conference in college softball. The one win came against Stanford in the 2003 NCAA Tournament held at Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Perkins Closing In On 100
Georgia Tech Head Coach Sharon Perkins is now eight wins shy of 100 in her career. Perkins is 92-49 (.652) 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 on opening day, Feb. 7. 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. Haller is now two RBI behind former teammate Savannah Brown. Brown knocked in 194 runs during her four-year career at Tech, most in school and league history.
Haller Off To Much Better Start
In 2008, Whitney Haller spent the first half of the season in a slump, but has picked right up this year where she left off in the second half of last season.
Haller has hit safely in each of the first eight Georgia Tech games at a .407 clip.
That represents the fourth longest hitting streak to begin a season in Yellow Jackets history. Laura Williams enjoyed a 15-game hitting streak to begin the 1997 season as well as a nine-game hitting streak to open up 1996.
In 2006, Tara Knudsen hit safely in her first 11 games.
Haller has enjoyed three multi-hit games this season as well as four multi-RBI contests. She has compiled a 1.285 OPS. Her 14 RBI are tops in the ACC, while she is second with three home runs.
Weseman Fitting Right In
Freshman Kelsey Weseman knew she had big shoes to fill replacing All-American shortstop Aileen Morales, but the Hutto, Texas native has fit right in.
Weseman has started all eight games at shortstop and not committed an error. She is fourth on the team batting .350 and has a 1.100 OPS.
Weseman has a team-high three doubles, one triple, and six RBI, all while striking out just twice.
Weseman has reached base safely in seven of Tech’s eight games this season, while scoring four runs and stealing a base.
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 has hit safely in the last seven games and is now batting .476 on the season, good for second on the team. She has scored eight runs, has two doubles, two triples, three RBI and two stolen bases.
A native of North Delta, British Columbia, Yee has compiled a 1.395 OPS. She has drawn seven walks and struck out just once.
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 Off To Fast Start
Sophomore Kristen Adkins, who transferred from the University of Florida, has won her first four starts in a Georgia Tech uniform.
The McKinney, Texas, native, is currently 4-0 with one save and a 0.91 ERA. She is holding opponents to just a .239 batting average and has given up only three walks in 23 innings pitched.
Adkins is averaging just over 12 pitches an inning and has nearly a 4-1 ground out to fly out ratio.
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 is currently 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .222 against the senior from Atlanta. She has walked 13 batters in 22 innings, but seven of those came in one game against Furman (2/8), her lone loss of the season.
Johnson has fanned 18 batters, including a season-high 10 against Georgia State (2/7) on opening day. That was her sixth career double-digit strikeout game. Her career-high is 14 against Oklahoma State on March 10, 2007.
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.
She Can Hit Too…
Johnson has hit sporadically throughout her career, but it all seems to be coming together in 2009. A career .176 hitter, Johnson is currently sixth on the team batting .333. She is second on the squad with seven RBI and also has two doubles, a triple and hit her first career home run on opening day at Georgia State (2/7).
Johnson has a 1.000 OPS and has been moved up from ninth in the order to sixth. She can hit for power, but also has the small ball game down as evidenced by her successful suicide squeeze with two outs and the bases loaded against Furman (2/8).
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.
Despite a quiet weekend by her standards at the Lipton Invitational (Feb. 13-15), Shimandle is batting .333 this season with six runs scored, three RBI and three stolen bases.
From the leadoff spot, Shimandle had three multi-hit games on opening 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 98 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 is leading the ACC in batting at a .565 clip. She has six runs scored, two RBI and had her first career extra-base hit with a double against Texas Tech on Valentine’s Day.
A native of Wichita, Kan., Jones has reached base safely in all eight games this season and already has five multi-hit games to her credit.
Jones was 30-for-33 stealing bases last season and has begun the year 10-for-11 already to lead the ACC.
Hilton, Dike Go Yard For First Time
The 2009 Lipton Invitational will be memorable for a couple of Tech underclassmen.
Sophomore Caroline Hilton, who recorded her first collegiate hit against Furman on Feb. 8, notched her first career home run in dramatic fashion against Florida Atlantic on Feb. 13.
Pinch hitting with the bases loaded and two outs, Hilton popped up a 3-2 pitch right behind the plate. When the FAU catcher was unable to make the play it gave Hilton another life and she was able to capitalize. Two pitches later, she drilled a grand slam over the fence in left-center field for her first collegiate home run.
The next day, freshman Danielle Dike hit an opposite field, pinch-hit solo home run against Texas Tech for her first career hit.
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 bat 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.
Alabama, ranked third in the preseason poll, is currently the No. 1 team in the country. They will come to Atlanta for a single game on April 22.