March 4, 2009
Georgia Tech To Host Buzz Classic
The Georgia Tech softball team (9-5) returns to the field for the first time in more than a week as it will host the Buzz Classic this weekend in Woodstock, Ga.
The Yellow Jackets beat Kennesaw State 8-0 last Wednesday, but saw all five of their games rained out at the NFCA Leadoff Classic over the weekend.
The 2009 Buzz Classic will be held at the Twin Creeks Softball Complex in Woodstock, Ga., about 30 miles north of downtown Atlanta.
There will be 18 teams joining the Yellow Jackets in this round-robin tournament. This is the 17th annual Buzz Classic. The entire 2008 Buzz Classic was canceled after a combination of heavy rain, tornados and snow. That was the similar recipe to what called off all five of Tech’s games at the Leadoff Classic last weekend.
The Yellow Jackets were supposed to have played Louisiana-Lafayette, LSU, Illinois State, Northwestern and Penn State, but Mother Nature got in the way. Coupled with a rain out in Gainesville, Fla., last month, the Jackets will look to make up these six games later in the season.
Free live audio will be provided for all Georgia Tech games this weekend, while live stats of every game is available on the Buzz Classic Tournament Central page at www.ramblinwreck.com.
Against The Field
The Yellow Jackets will be facing Mercer, Purdue, Toledo, Jacksonville State and Western Kentucky at this year’s Buzz Classic.
Tech is 45-13 all-time against Mercer, despite a 2-1 loss in Macon last season. Jessica Weaver accounted for the Yellow Jackets’ only run against the Bears last year when she led off the sixth inning with a solo home run. Tech had seven hits against Mercer starting pitcher Jenni Holtz, but left seven runners on base. The Bears are 13-6 so far this season and are coming off a doubleheader sweep at Auburn on Tuesday.
Georgia Tech is 1-0 all-time against Purdue after defeating the Boilermakers 2-1 on March 4, 2005, in the Buzz Classic.
Tech is also 2-0 against Toledo and 4-0 vs. Jacksonville State. This will be the first ever-meeting against Western Kentucky.
Perkins Closing In On 100
Georgia Tech Head Coach Sharon Perkins is now five wins shy of 100 in her career. Perkins is 95-52 (.646) 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.
Haller Is Now Tech, ACC Home Run And RBI Queen
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.
With a three-RBI game at Kennesaw State on Feb. 25, Haller became the school and ACC leader in RBI as well. She now has 195 in her career, passing former teammate Savannah Brown.
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 all but three games this year and is third on the team with a .386 batting average. She has three home runs and a team-high 17 RBI as well as a 1.145 OPS.
Haller began the season on an eight-game hitting streak, but was held hitless for three straight games at the Cathedral City Classic. It’s worth noting, that Haller, like many of the players, had the flu on the trip to the West Coast. When she felt better, Haller had a three-hit game against Oregon State.
That eight-game swing represented the fourth- longest hitting streak to begin a season in Yellow Jacket 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.
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 14 games at shortstop and is batting .278 with a .870 OPS.
Weseman has a team-high four doubles, one triple, and six RBI, all while striking out just three times.
Weseman has reached base safely in all but three 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 all but two games this season and currently sits second on the team with a .425 average. She has 12 runs scored, four doubles, two triples, a home run and eight RBI. Yee, who has struck out only three times, has compiled a 1.240 OPS and committed just one error so far this season.
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, won her first four starts in a Georgia Tech uniform.
The McKinney, Texas, native, is currently 4-2 with one save and a 1.29 ERA. She is holding opponents to just a .253 batting average and has given up only 11 walks with 21 strikeouts in 38.0 innings pitched.
Adkins is averaging just over 13 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 4-1 with a 1.94 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .168 against the senior from Atlanta. She has walked 16 batters in 36.0 innings, but seven of those came in one game against Furman (2/8), her lone loss of the season.
Johnson has fanned 38 batters, including a season-high 12 against Loyola Marymount (2/20). That was her seventh career double-digit strikeout game and second on the season. Her career-high is 14 against Oklahoma State on March 10, 2007.
Johnson has thrown consecutive shutouts, including a one-hitter with the 12 k’s against Loyola Marymount out in California. Johnson nearly had a no-hitter, but with two outs in the bottom of the third inning, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup reached via a check-swing, infield single.
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 fourth on the team with a .385 batting average.
She began the season batting ninth in the lineup, but has quickly moved into the clean-up spot. Johnson hit her first career home run on opening day at Georgia State and leads the team with four this season.
Johnson has scored eight runs, has three doubles, a triple and 14 RBI to go along with the four round-trippers. She has compiled a 1.221 OPS and has homered in each of her last two games against Oregon State and Kennesaw State. Johnson hit a home run against UNLV out in California that was estimated to be over 300 feet.
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 heading into her senior year.
Shimandle has hit safely in five of her last six games and is now hitting .326 this season with eight runs scored, eight stolen bases and five RBI.
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 103 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 spent the first month of the season or so hovering around .600 and is currently leading the team and third in the ACC with a .436 batting average. She has eight runs scored, five walks and had a double for her first career extra-base hit against Texas Tech on Valentine’s Day.
A native of Wichita, Kan., Jones has reached base safely in all but two games this season and already has six multi-hit games to her credit.
Jones was 30-for-33 stealing bases last season and has begun the year 12-for-13 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.
Another one of Tech’s stellar freshmen, Jessica Sinclair, got into the action as well. Sinclair broke a scoreless tie against Oregon State by leading off the third inning with her first career home run.
The blast by the Marietta, Ga., native went well over the 220-foot fence in dead center field at Fenway Park in Cathedral City, Calif.
Sinclair had two hits in the game against the Beavers and is now batting .154 this season.
She has started 10 games in right field and not committed an error for the Yellow Jackets.
Don’t Run On Kuzma
Freshman Kate Kuzma has cooled off a bit at the plate, but her arm is still sizzling behind it. The Sharpsburg, Ga., native has gunned down four of five would-be base stealers already in 2009.
Kuzma, who had an .800 on-base percentage through the first two weeks of the season, is batting .214 with two doubles, a home run and four RBI. She still has a .426 on-base percentage thanks in large part to the team-high nine walks she has drawn.
Coan Getting In On The Act
Adding to the Yellow Jackets’ freshman class is pitcher Jessica Coan. Coan made her first career start against No. 2 Florida and has been a very solid hurler all season.
The Duluth, Ga., native picked up her first career win with four hitless innings at Kennesaw State on Feb. 25. She walked three and struck out a career-high seven batters.
Coan made her second career start against Oregon on Feb. 20 out in California and was a hard-luck loser. She gave up just five hits and struck out six batters, but the offense could not give her any support and the Ducks won the game 3-0.
Coan is 1-2 on the season with a 3.71 ERA. She has 22 strikeouts in 17 innings pitched and is holding opponents to a .246 average.
Barnes, Morales Still Find Ways To Contribute
Despite not having any more eligibility, Brittany Barnes and Aileen Morales are still finding ways to contribute to the program after illustrious careers in a Yellow Jacket uniform.
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.