March 12, 2008
KENNESAW, Ga. – The Georgia Tech Softball Team (9-16) earned a split in a doubleheader at Kennesaw State (20-6) Wednesday night. The Jackets hit three home runs en route to an 8-0, five-inning win in game one. In game two, the Owls used a three-run fourth inning to break open a 2-2 game and hang on for a 6-3 win.
Game two saw the Jackets down 2-0 after the first inning, but junior Blair Shimandle tied it in the third with a two-run home run, her first round-tripper since 2006. Kennesaw then used a three-run fourth inning to pull away for the win and earn a split.
In game one, the Yellow Jackets got going quickly with three runs in the top of the first inning, all after there were two outs. Senior Aileen Morales led off with a walk on nine pitches after battling back from a 0-2 count. Two batters later, Morales stole second base, her 15th of the season in as many opportunities, and went to third on a ground out by junior Blair Shimandle. With senior Savannah Brown at the plate, Morales was able to score the game’s first run on a passed ball. Brown then singled and scored when junior Whitney Haller crushed a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left-centerfield. It was the third home run of the season for Haller and 42nd of her career moving her within five of breaking the school record. The two-run blast put the Jackets on top 3-0.
In the bottom of the first inning, the Owls loaded the bases with one out, but senior Whitney Humphreys came back to strike out Laura Stallings and Jenna Closner to get out of the inning. She fanned a batter earlier in the inning as well so she ended up striking out the side with a double, walk and infield single sprinkled in.
Kennesaw State had a runner at second with nobody out in the third inning, but Humphreys again was able to escape trouble. The Owls then got another leadoff single in the fourth inning, but Humphreys did not all her past first base so the game quickly moved onto the fifth inning and the Yellow Jackets still out in front, 3-0.
The Jackets blew the game open with a five-run fifth inning and again scored all of the runs after there were two outs. Morales got it going with a two-out singe up the middle to extend her hitting streak to seven games and then stole second base, her 16th of the season. Jones legged out an infield single and then Morales made it 4-0 Tech when she scored on a Shimandle single to right field.
Georgia Tech then went back-to-back for the first time this season. Brown took the first pitch that she saw over the fence in dead centerfield making it 7-0 Jackets. The three-run home run was her third of the season and 40th in her career. The three RBI also brought her within four of breaking the all-time school record. Haller followed with a solo shot to left field, the third multi-home run game of her career.
Humphreys (4-7) pitched a 1-2-3 fifth to complete Tech’s first run-rule win of the season. She gave up three hits and two walks while striking out seven. Brittany Matthews (13-2) entered the game with a 0.95 ERA, but was tagged for eight earned runs on seven hits and two walks. She had two strikeouts.
In game two, three straight singles in the bottom of the first inning gave Kennesaw State the bases loaded with nobody out against Tech freshman Stephanie Morris. After Corri Connally drew a five-pitch walk forcing in a run, Morris was relieved by Humphreys.
Laura Stallings delivered a RBI single to left on Humphreys’ first pitch, but nine pitches later the Yellow Jackets were in the dugout only trailing 2-0. Humphreys fanned both Jenna Closner and Sarah Hesterman on three pitches each and got Hollie Huffman on a ground out to second base on a 0-2 pitch.
In the top of the third, the Jackets tied the game with two more runs after there were two outs. Jones reached on an infield single and went to second base on a throwing error by the third baseman. After Jones stole third base, junior Blair Shimandle crushed a 3-2 pitch just to the right of dead centerfield for a game-tying two-run home run. For Shimandle, it was her first home run since 2006, her freshman season.
In the bottom of the third, Jessica Cross led off for Kennesaw with a triple to centerfield but was stranded there. Humphreys came back to get a ground out and pop-up to Morales at shortstop as well as an inning-ending strikeout to send the game to the fourth tied at two.
It remained 2-2 until the bottom of the fourth when the Owls scored three runs off Humphreys. RBI singles by Lyndsay McCurry, Amanda Malcom and Corri Connally gave the Owls a 5-2 advantage heading to the fifth.
The Jackets tried to chip away in the sixth, but were unable to cut into the deficit at all. Jones led off by reaching on an error, but was thrown out trying to steal. Shimandle followed with a single, but was erased when Brown grounded into a double-play. She smashed the ball right at the shortstop who made the play, stepped on second base and threw to first completing the twin-killing and setting up a rare inning where two Tech players reached base, but Owl pitcher Angela Lopez still faced the minimum.
In the bottom of the fifth, Kennesaw State added another run to knock Humphreys out of the game. Morris re-entered and easily got three outs on a come-backer and a pair of strikeouts to the game moved to the seventh inning and the Jackets needing a four-spot to tie.
Tech did not go quietly in the seventh. Haller was hit by a pitch to start the inning and freshman pinch runner Amelia Beach went to second when senior Brittany Barnes stroked a single into left field. Freshman Jessica Weaver flied out to left sending Beach to third and then a RBI ground out by senior Becky McCraw made the score 6-3 but the Jackets were down to their final out. Senior Kelly Eppinger struck out for the final out of the game and Kennesaw State earned a split.
Humphreys (4-8) suffered the loss as she allowed four earned runs on seven hits and two walks in five innings of relief.
The Yellow Jackets will next host #24 Virginia Tech in a three-game series this weekend at Glenn Field. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday, March 15 beginning at 1:00 pm. and then a single game Sunday, March 16 at 1:00 p.m. Live audio and stats will be available at www.ramblinwreck.com.