Feb. 27, 2008
NFCA Leadoff Classic
Friday: vs. Auburn, (4:00 PM) Gametracker
vs. #2/3 Texas A&M (6:30 PM) Gametracker
Saturday: vs. Hofstra, (4:00 PM) Gametracker
vs. Charlotte (6:30 PM) Gametracker
Sunday: vs. #19/19 DePaul, (12:30 PM) Gametracker
Georgia Tech Travels To Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga.
Georgia Tech (5-8) will participate in the NFCA Leadoff Classic for the fifth straight year this weekend. The Leadoff Classic is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the country and is held at the site of the softball portion of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
The Yellow Jackets will play Auburn, Texas A&M, Hofstra, Charlotte and DePaul in the round-robin tournament. Live stats will be available for every game at www.ramblinwreck.com.
Georgia Tech is 9-8 (.529) all-time at the Leadoff. The Jackets were co-champions last year with Michigan and were runner-up in the Silver Championship back in 2004.
Jackets vs. The Field
Georgia Tech is 4-3 all-time against Auburn. The Jackets won the last meeting, 2-0 on May 2, 2003 in Atlanta.
This will be the first meeting all-time between Georgia Tech and Texas A&M.
Hofstra has now won two of the three games between the two teams after last week’s 4-0 win at the USF Louisville Slugger Tournament in Tampa. Since winning the first-ever meeting last season, Hofstra has now won two in a row. Sara Michalowski threw a five-hitter with no walks and five strikeouts for the Pride.
Tech is 15-9-1 all-time against Charlotte (formerly UNC-Charlotte). The two teams played at least twice every year in the 90’s, but have not played since the 1999 season. The Jackets had a 14-game winning streak vs. the 49ers from March 4, 1992 until Feb. 25, 1996. Charlotte has won five of the last seven contests, but Tech won the last one, 5-1 on May 2, 1999 in North Carolina.
Finally, the Jackets are 3-1 against DePaul. That includes a 8-3 win last year at the Leadoff. The Blue Demons went on to the College World Series last season.
Where’s The Offense?
After setting all kinds of school and ACC offensive records last season, this year has been a completely different story.
Tech has been involved in eight shutouts already this year and is 3-5 in those games. The last five games that Tech has played have been shutouts.
The Jackets were shut out in back-to-back games against South Carolina and Hofstra (Feb. 22) at the USF Louisville Slugger Tournament. That marked the first time that has happened since No. 12 Florida State shut out the Jackets 4-0 and 6-0 in a doubleheader on May 4, 2003.
Georgia Tech gave up 22 runs in its first two games this season to Lipscomb and Georgia State, but have allowed just 24 runs in the last 11 games. The Jackets pitchers have a 1.46 ERA in the last 11 games and are holding opponents to a .217 batting average.
Offensively, the Jackets have only 17 extra-base hits. Through 13 games last year, they had 35. That included 19 home runs. The 2007 Jackets were batting almost 100 points higher (.342-.246) at this point last year as well.
Just Start Me Please…
After allowing 13 earned runs in her first three appearances out of the bullpen, junior Tiffany Johnson has pitched back-to-back shutouts for the first time in her Tech career.
Both of Johnson’s starts this season have been three-hit shutouts. She struck out 12 and did not walk a batter in a 6-0 win over New Mexico (Feb. 16). In her last outing, she fanned eight in a 5-0 blanking of Wright State (Feb. 23).
Coincidentally, both of those starts came on Saturday evenings.
Johnson has now thrown 15.1 consecutive scoreless innings, just three shy of her career-high, and has 24 strikeouts in her last 17 innings pitched, an average of 1.4 an inning and 9.9 a game.
Johnson’s 12 strikeouts against New Mexico was her highest since fanning a career-high 14 against Oklahoma State on March 10, 2007.
For the season, the Atlanta native and Florida A&M transfer is 2-2 with an ERA of 4.33. Prior to her start against the Lobos, her ERA was sitting at 15.17.
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 186 of her 215 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 nine games.
Morales is currently second on the team with a .275 batting average with her stolen base in the second inning against Wright State (Feb. 23), she broke Laura Williams’ all-time record of 110.
Weaver Starts Career With A Bang
You can’t ask for a better opening weekend as a freshman than what Jessica Weaver did at the Georgia State First Pitch Classic Feb. 9-10.
The Kingston, Ga., native homered in each of her first three games, including one in her first official at bat. She walked in her first plate appearance.
Weaver also threw out three runners attempting to steal on the weekend and finished with a .333 batting average and five RBI.
Some Help Please…
After winning a team-best 23 games last year, senior Whitney Humphreys got off to a great start in 2008. The Shady Spring, W. Va., native pitched a five-hit shutout, the eighth of her career, in her first start of the year against Tennessee-Martin on Feb. 10. She walked just one and struck out nine.
The nine k’s were the most she has had since fanning a career-high 11 against Iowa on March 4, 2007.
The Jackets scored two runs in that game against Tennessee-Martin, but have not scored one run for Humphreys since that game, a span of 20.1 innings.
She has a measly 0.77 ERA so far this season, but just a 1-4 record to show for it. Humphreys has given up just three earned runs in 27.1 innings, but received only two runs of support in those five starts.
Humphreys ranks third all-time at Tech in wins (50), fifth in shutouts (8), third in strikeouts (284), second in strikeouts per game (5.30) and third in opponent batting average (.237).
Barnes Does It Again
After hitting seven home runs last year that either won the game, gave Tech the lead or tied the game late, senior Brittany Barnes did it again on Feb. 10 against Lipscomb.
The Lawrenceville, Ga., native broke a 1-1 tie with a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning that turned out to be the game-winner.
It was her 21st career home run, in just one-plus season at Tech, moving her into a tie for fifth-place all-time with Caitlin Lever.
Barnes has not played since hitting that home run because of an injury but it is possible that she will be back for the Leadoff Classic.
Barnes was a second-team all-region selection in 2007 after posting 73 RBI, the second-most in a school single-season and third-most in the NCAA.
Brown And Haller Named To Player of the Year Watch List
The 2008 Pre-Season Watch List is comprised of 50 players representing 34 schools and 14 different conferences. Haller was selected to the initial watch list last season as well while recent graduate Caitlin Lever was one of 10 finalists in 2007.
Brown and Haller join Virginia Tech’s Angela Tincher as the ACC’s representatives while Tech is one of just 15 schools with at least two players on the list.
The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) will announce the 25 finalists on April 9. A player does not have to appear on the initial watch list to be considered as a Top 25 finalist, but once the Top 25 is named the remaining finalist must be selected from that list. Just days before the start of post-season play, a list of 10 finalists will be named and released on May 7. The final three finalists will be announced May 21 while the winner of the 2008 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be announced prior to the start of the 2008 NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
In addition, Brown was named a second-team preseason All-American by ESPN.COM.
Morales Sets New Stolen Base Record
Senior Aileen Morales stole her 111th career base in the second innings against Wright State (Feb. 23), breaking Laura Williams’ Georgia Tech record.
She had a school-record 44 stolen bases in 2005, 34 last year (the second-most) and 30 in 2006, the fifth-best all-time at Tech.
Morales is a perfect 3-for-3 so far this season.
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 has 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.
Shimandle leads the team in batting this year at .316 and is a perfect 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts. Shimandle had a game-tying RBI triple as part of Tech’s two-run sixth inning to come back and beat Middle Tennessee State 2-1 on Feb. 15.
Morris Shines In Debut
Weaver was not the only freshman to make a significant impact in Tech’s opening weekend. Freshman pitcher Stephanie Morris went 1-0 in the circle with a 2.23 ERA. She allowed five earned runs over the weekend while striking out 12 and walking just three in 15.2 innings.
The first career win for the Canton, Ga., native was a complete-game, five-hitter against Lipscomb, Feb. 10. Morris allowed one run and one walk with five strikeouts en route to her first career victory.
On the season, Morris is 2-2 with a 2.31 ERA. She has 26 strikeouts in a team-high 36.1 innings pitched.
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 five outfield assists already this season, including three at home plate. Butler had just four outfield assists all of last season.
Three Jackets Picked In NPF Draft
Georgia Tech seniors Savannah Brown, Aileen Morales and Brittany Barnes were each selected in the Feb. 18 National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) Senior Draft. Brown was taken in the first round, fifth overall by the Rockford Thunder. Morales was a second-round selection (10th overall) by the Chicago Bandits, while Barnes was picked in the fourth round (23rd overall) by the Akron Racers.
Tech had three of the four players chosen from the ACC and tied Oklahoma for the most picks from one school in the nation. Due to NCAA regulations, an active college senior-athlete is not eligible to sign with her respective franchise until their 2008 season is completed.
Three other Yellow Jackets have played in the NPF. Tara Knudsen (2001-04) was the first after being drafted by the New England Riptide in 2004. Jessica Sallinger (2002-05) signed with the Chicago Bandits two years ago after being selected in the second round of the NPF Senior Draft her senior season, while Caitlin Lever (2005-07) also played for the Bandits last season.
Three Jackets Playing Internationally
Three members of the Georgia Tech Softball family are playing internationally and two will be participants in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
Lever and Yee are on the Canadian National Team and ranked fifth in the world heading into this summer’s games.
Yee will red-shirt this season like many other collegiate players across the country, and will have two years of eligibility remaining.
The Canadian National Team is currently in Las Vegas, Nev. for centralized training and play several games against NCAA competition this spring.
They will then travel to Australia in March to continue their training at the site of the 2000 Olympic Games in Blacktown, Australia, and will play against the Australian and Japanese national teams. April and May are set aside for specialized training before the team re-groups in early June. The exact schedule from that point on is in the process of being finalized but will include the Canada Cup in Surrey, BC from July 12-20.
Yee is keeping a blog of her Olympic journey that will be updated frequently from now through the Olympic Games at www.ramblinwreck.com. Tech fans can get an inside look at what it’s like to be an Olympic athlete and what goes into preparation.
Morales, meanwhile, spent last summer with the Puerto Rican National Team. They lost in the championship game of their Olympic qualifier, but Morales has brought a lot of her experience back to Atlanta and that is going to go a long way this season according to Coach Perkins.
Yellow Jackets Picked Third In ACC
Georgia Tech was picked third in the annual ACC preseason poll voted upon by the league’s coaches.
The Yellow Jackets and Florida State were tied for third-place with 45 points. Defending champion Virginia Tech was selected to repeat while North Carolina was picked second, receiving three more points than Tech and FSU. Maryland, NC State, Virginia and Boston College round out the prognostication.