ATLANTA (April 24) – The Georgia Tech softball team completes its season this week as they host crosstown rival Georgia State in a doubleheader Tuesday at 3 p.m. before travelling to the ninth annual Atlantic Coast Conference softball tournament, Saturday through Monday in Tallahassee, Fla.
Tech (25-29, 2-6), looking to snap a six-game losing streak, trails in the series with Georgia State (27-25), 15-14.
“Georgia State is a very, very good team,” said head coach Kate Madden. “They are extremely fiesty and aggressive, so we will have to play well against them. The last week has been tough on us because although we have lost our last six, we are not playing poorly. Our pitching and defense have been strong. Our hitting has been solid, but we just are having difficulty scoring runs. Hopefully we will get everything going on Tuesday, and as we head into the ACC Tournament.”
Tech finished the conference season in fifth place and will face fourth-seeded Virginia (22-34, 3-3) at 1 p.m. on Saturday with the winner advancing to meet top-seeded North Carolina (45-15, 6-2) at 5 p.m. Saturday. If the Jackets lose, they will face the loser of the Maryland/Florida State game at 1 p.m. Sunday. The championship of the double-elimination tournament is scheduled for Monday afternoon.
“I am excited about playing Virginia,” said Madden, whose squad dropped the regular season meetings with the Cavaliers, 2-1 and 4-1. “If there was one series where I was a little disappointed, it was against Virginia. This is a second chance for us and will be a great opportunity for our team to show Virginia how competitive we can be.”
ACC Player of the Year candidate Anne Knobbe (Brea, Calif.) leads the conference in batting (.404), RBI (50), home runs (16), and on-base percentage (.475). The senior catcher has started every game behind the plate this season.
“Anne has had a tough time this past week because teams are beginning to respect her so much that she’s now getting intentionally walked,” said Madden. “She was intentionally walked four times last weekend, and I hope that our team will look at that as a challenge and an opportunity to step up. I also hope that Anne will get a few pitches to hit this week because she’s such an important part of our offense.”
In addition, the Jackets will have three other senior starters competing in their final ACC Tournament in center fielder Lauren Schwartz (Atlanta, Ga.), left fielder Heather Sumrow (Humble, Texas), and pitcher Jamie Smith (Salem, Ore.).
Schwartz is third on the team in batting (.306) and fourth in RBI (15) and leads the team with seven stolen bases. Sumrow is sixth on the team in batting (.278), leads in sacrifice hits (12) and also has seven stolen bases. Smith has been a steady force on the mound, winning a career-high 14 games this season, and she needs just three wins to become Tech’s all-time victory leader. She has pitched 197 innings, and leads the team in ERA (3.19).
“The seniors this year have been key players for us, and I think every coach wants to have that happen,” said Madden. “Lauren and Heather have been at the top of our lineup the entire season and have made things happen as slap hitters, and Jamie has really taken on leadership role and has pitched most of our innings.
“My hope is that the seniors lead us this last week. We’ve competed in every conference game we’ve had this season and now its time for those seniors to turn it up and lead us one more time.”