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Softball Opens Preseason Practice With 2008 Season Less Than A Month Away

Jan. 15, 2008

ATLANTA – Preseason practice has begun as the 2008 Georgia Tech softball team looks to build on the best season in school history. Tabbed as one of the “more interesting teams to watch come February” by ESPN.COM, the 2008 Yellow Jackets return the majority of their starters from last year’s squad which set a school record for wins (54), broke several school and ACC records and finished the year ranked No. 16.

Check back for frequent updates and photo galleries from preseason practice leading up to the season opening weekend at the Georgia State First-Pitch Classic, Feb. 9-10.

Here is a Q&A with Tech head coach Sharon Perkins.

Last year, you had one of the best offensive seasons in ACC history, school history and in the country. What do you think this team needs to do to go to the next level?

“I think we need to stick to the plan. We’re getting better at focusing on hitting certain pitches and laying off certain pitches. We’re also getting much better at going in with a game plan and sticking to it no matter what happens. We prepare well for games and I think that’s why we’re successful. They bought into the plan and the rest will come.”

How does the pitching staff shape up this year and what is each pitcher’s strength?

“Everybody on the pitching staff brings something different to the game. We are very lucky to have such a strong group of competitors that can each pitch successfully for us.

Whitney Humphreys won 23 games last year and we are excited to have her back for another season. She brings a great deal of experience to the team. Whitney has great movement on the ball and changes speeds well.

Tiffany Johnson came in last year as a transfer from Florida A&M and pitched well for us. She has great speed and command of the locations of her pitches. She also has the ability to play third base and hit in our line-up, which will allow us to mix things up a bit.

We also have two newcomers in Stephanie Morris and Emily Schreck. We are excited to see them develop as wel go through the season. All of the pitchers are fun to work with and progressing every day.”

How does the International experience that Aileen Morales, Jennifer Yee and Caitlin Lever have help the rest of the team?

(Morales played with the Puerto Rican National Team last summer while Yee and Lever were recently selected to the Canadian National Team and will participate in the 2008 Beijing Olympics)

“I think it’s huge. I’ve seen a totally different person out of Aileen and Jen. They’ve grown so much athletically and mentally.

The experience that they get playing with the best the world has to offer in our sport is going to be a great asset to our program this year. I think they are definitely more comfortable with our plan and what we’re doing, especially offensively.

They think that there’s not a pitcher that we can’t beat. I think that’s important to our program. Both Morales and Yee are great leaders on our team. It’s one thing if the team is hearing it from me, but I think if they hear it from a fellow teammate it means a lot more.”

Talk a little bit about the schedule; how you assembled it and how you think it will prepare the team for the conference season and beyond.

“We tried to go with a little bit stronger schedule this year. My whole goal is to prepare us for postseason. I want to get to the World Series, and our goal every year is to win a national championship. In order to do that I tried to play some different teams to get our RPI higher and put us in a better situation for postseason play. The bar has been set high and this team has the poise to rise up to the occasion.”

How do you see the ACC stacking up this year?

“The league has improved so much in recent years that it is wonderful. I guess it’s because there are so many great players out here and people are not just coming from the west coast anymore. We’re getting a lot of great kids around Atlanta and all throughout Georgia. It seems like now in the south and on the east coast that more teams are getting better players.

Each year, the ACC has improved. It’s not just a one-horse league anymore. From top to bottom, we compete with the top teams in the country and it is showing in the rankings.

It should be a fun year for sure. Everybody seems to be getting a top pitcher and some top hitters so it’s a whole different ball game now.”

If you had to tell someone that asked, “why should I come watch your game?” what would you say?

“I think we’re fun to watch. Our team plays with a lot of heart and a lot of fight. It’s a quick pace-game and everybody plays with their heart on their sleeve.

Every member of this team has fun out on the field, but when the day is done they know what they need to do and get the job done.”

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