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Softball Looks To Get Back On Track

Feb. 28, 2011

Matt Winkeljohn

Sting Daily

Evidence will begin rolling in today on the softball team. It feels a bit strange to even be looking for it.

After winning their first six games, Georgia Tech’s Yellow Jackets have lost four of five heading into a game this afternoon at Georgia State (at Panthersville, in DeKalb County). The Jackets have their first three-game losing streak in three years.

They’ll have seven opportunities in six days to do something about it, and it’s not difficult to see how the Jackets might improve their chances. The search for common denominators in the losses doesn’t take long.

The Jackets have issued 47 walks in 71.2 innings, committed 12 errors and allowed nine unearned runs (compared with 19 of the earned variety; Tech has scored a modest four unearned runs even though opponents have committed 15 errors). Plus, while Tech is hitting .313, the Jackets are batting a far more modest .213 with runners in scoring position.

So . . . poorly-timed errors and way, way too many walks.

Tech pitchers have registered 19 more strikeouts than opponents and allowed 28 fewer hits, but don’t have as much to show for it as they would if not for the fact that the Jackets have given up 14 more walks than opponents.

First-year pitching coach Shaina Ervin has in a rare six-day off period had her work cut out for her.

Head coach Sharon Perkins mentored pitchers prior to hiring Ervin in the offseason, and Perkins is still involved. She said recently, “She takes a load off me for sure.” Three players have handled all the pitching so far, a breakdown that is likely to continue more or less the same way all season.

Senior Kristen Adkins is 3-2 with an ERA of 1.15 with 33 strikeouts and 11 walks in 30.1 innings. But five of the 10 runs she has allowed have been unearned.

Sophomore Hope Rush is 3-2 with an ERA of 1.77 with 20 strikeouts and 23 walks in 31.2 innings. Four of the 12 runs that she has allowed have been unearned.

Freshman Lindsey Anderson (1-0) has not allowed an unearned run, but she has walked 13 in 9.2 innings while striking out 14 and ringing up an ERA of 4.34.

To oversimplify, Rush and especially Anderson need to improve their walk rates as both have respectable strikeout counts against innings worked, and Adkins needs a little more defensive help.

There will be plenty of opportunity real fast.

Tech will play Niagara Wednesday, and then play host to the Buzz Classic this weekend at the multi-field Twin Creeks Complex in Woodstock, Ga.

Perkins and Irvin will double-team pitching matters.

“We kind of go back and forth during the game talking about how to pitch to different hitters. It also allows me to be able to work on the defense,” Perkins said. “It’s important for me to know what’s going to be called so I know where to put the defense.”

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