March 11, 2008
Georgia Tech To Play At Kennesaw State, Host #24/RV Virginia Tech
Georgia Tech (8-15) will play five games this week with a mid-week doubleheader at Kennesaw State (19-5) on Wednesday and then a weekend series with #24/24 Virginia Tech (15-8, 0-0 ACC) this weekend at Glenn Field.
The three-game weekend set against the Hokies is a re-match of last year’s ACC Championship game, which was won by Virginia Tech 2-0. The games against Virginia Tech will be broadcast on www.ramblinwreck.com with Seth Gerard calling all of the action. Saturday’s doubleheader is set to begin at 1:00 p.m. while the series concludes with a single game Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
Live stats for every game this week are available via the Gametracker link at www.ramblinwreck.com.
Next week, the Jackets will take a spring break trip through Tennessee and South Carolina. The Yellow Jackets will travel 1,108 miles between Atlanta, Cookeville, Tenn, Rock Hill, S.C. and Myrtle Beach.
Jackets vs. Kennesaw State
Georgia Tech is 3-3 all-time against Kennesaw State. The two teams played three times last season with the Jackets winning each one. Tech won 8-2 in the final game of the KSU Invitational on Feb. 18, 2007. The Yellow Jackets then swept a doubleheader at Glenn Field on April 18, 5-0 and 8-0. The Owls are 19-5 on the season and have won six games in a row and nine out of their last 10.
vs. Virginia Tech
Georgia Tech is 8-8 all-time against Virginia Tech. The Hokies won three out of four games between the two teams last year including a 2-0 decision in the ACC Championship game.
Since joining the ACC in 2005, Virginia Tech is 6-4 against Georgia Tech. Last year, the Hokies took two out of three games of their series in Blacksburg. Behind All-American pitcher Angela Tincher, Virginia Tech won games one and two by scores of 3-0 and 3-1, but the Jackets won the third game 21-1. Tincher also pitched the ACC final.
This year, the 24th-ranked Hokies are 15-8 on the season. Tincher, who begins the week needing one win to break the school record, is 8-4 with a 0.37 ERA. She has 189 strikeouts in 94.2 innings.
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 nine shutouts already this year and is 3-6 in those games. Earlier this season, the Jackets played five straight 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 50 runs in the last 21 games.
Offensively, the Jackets have only 34 extra-base hits. Through 23 games last year, they had 77. That included 38 home runs. The 2007 Jackets were batting more than 100 points higher (.349-.245) 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 pitched back-to-back shutouts for the first time in her Tech career.
Each of Johnson’s first two 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). She then fanned eight in a 5-0 blanking of Wright State (Feb. 23).
Coincidentally, both of those starts came on Saturday evenings.
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 3-4 with an ERA of 4.37. 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 225 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 has hit safely in the last six games at a .455 clip. She has six stolen bases in this time as well as a double, triple, home run and five RBI.
She came up with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning against Vermont (March 9) and hit the game-tying RBI triple. Tech went on to win that game in eight innings.
Morales leads the team in batting this year at .338 and is a perfect 14-for-14 in stolen bases. She is tied for the team-lead with 11 RBI and has scored 10 runs.
Jones On Fire
Morales is not the only Yellow Jacket who has turned it on offensively the last two weeks. Freshman Christy Jones has hit .500 over that same six-game period. The Wichita, Kansas native has seen her batting average climb 68 points and is now second on the team at .288.
Jones is 10-for-12 in stolen base attempts this season and since moving to eighth spot in the order on March 1 against Hofstra, she is batting a robust .476.
Jones has led off an inning seven times since March 1 and recorded a hit on four occasions.
In addition, she has four multi-hit games in this stretch and six stolen bases.
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.
After a mini-slump, Weaver has turned it back on again and homered in two out of her last three games and is batting .304 since March 1 as well.
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.
Humphreys has a 1.43 ERA so far this season, but just a 1-7 record to show for it. She has given up just 12 earned runs in 58.2 innings, but received only 13 runs of support in her nine starts. In Humphreys’ seven losses, the offense has given her just four runs to work with.
Barnes Returns With A Bang
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.
She missed the next three weeks with an injury, but returned for the NFCA Leadoff Classic Feb. 29-March 2 and hit two home runs for the Jackets.
Barnes now has four home runs this season and sits in fifth-place on the all-time Tech charts with 25 despite having been here for one-plus seasons.
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 14-for-14 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 has cooled off as of late, but is still hitting .260 this season and has two doubles and two triples. In addition, she is 11-for-13 in stolen base attempts and has scored eight runs.
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 2-4 with a 3.08 ERA. She has 43 strikeouts in a team-high 61.1 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 six 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.