ATLANTA (Mar. 31) – The Georgia Tech softball team bounced back from a loss in the first game of its ACC-opening doubleheader with 16th-ranked Florida State to earn a split in twin bill and even its ACC record at 1-1. The Yellow Jackets (19-14, 1-1 ACC) dropped the first game to the Seminoles (33-6, 1-1 ACC) by a 7-0 score as FSU starter Leslie Malerich turned in a dominating performance on the mound. In the second game, Tech picked up an extra-inning win as freshman Tara Knudsen’s solo home run in the eighth inning gave the Jackets a 2-1 victory.
In the day’s opening contest, the two teams were scoreless through two innings before Florida State jumped on the board with all the runs it would need in the top of the third inning. After Serita Brooks led off the frame with a single and stole second, she moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Kimmy Carter. Brooks scored the first run of the inning when Jessica van der Linden reached base on an error by Tech first baseman Erin Hawley. Brandi Stuart moved van der Linden to second with a bunt single, and van der Linden scored on an error by Jacket shortstop Tara Knudsen. Stuart gave FSU a 3-0 lead when she scored on a double by Robyn Gauger.
After plating a single run in the top of the fifth inning, the Seminoles put the game out of reach with three runs in the top of the sixth inning as both van der Linden and Stuart recorded two-out singles to put runners on first and second. Jen White-Stokes made the Jackets pay as she sent Mimi Utt’s first pitch over the left-center field wall for her first home run of the year and the final 7-0 lead.
Malerich (12-2) earned the win as she limited the Jackets to just four hits in a complete game outing while striking out four and walking one. TechÆs Tiffany Goodman (7-6) took the loss as she went 4.1 innings, allowing nine hits and four runs, three of which were earned. Utt tossed 2.2 innings of relief for the Jackets, allowing the three runs on three hits.
The second game turned into a pitching duel, as Jacket starter Erin Voeltz and FSU’s Jen White-Stokes held the opposition’s offense in check for much of the game before Tech took the 2-1 win in extra innings.
Florida State got on the board first in the second game as it plated one run in the top of the first inning. Serita Brooks led off the game with a single to right field and stole second base before being moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Kimmy Carter. She then scored when Voeltz was called for an illegal pitch during Jessica van der Linden’s at bat.
Neither team was able to score in the next four innings, as the two hurlers scattered just five hits in that span. Georgia Tech knotted the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Erin Hawley sent White-Stokes’ 1-0 pitch over the right-center field fence for her second homer of the year.
The Seminoles threatened in the top of the seventh inning as Robyn Gauger led off with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Natalie Bennett. After Leah Armstrong replaced Gauger on the bases, Monique Marier flew out to Tech center fielder Sara Wissmann, who was able to double up Armstrong at second base.
Tech had a chance of its own in the home half of the seventh inning as Ellen Styer led off the frame with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch before reaching third base on a groundout by Erin Glantz. The Jackets were unable to push her across the plate and the game moved to extra innings.
Voeltz retired the Seminoles in order in the top of the eighth inning with a pair of strikeouts and a ground out to give the Jackets a chance to win the game. Tech took advantage as after Jamie Frost grounded out to lead off the inning, Tara Knudsen connected on her second homer of the year, as she sent FSU reliever Jessica van der LindenÆs first pitch over the left field fence to give the Yellow Jackets a 2-1 victory.
Voeltz (10-8) picked up her third win of the week and 10th overall as she went the distance, allowing just the one run while striking out six Seminoles and scattering five hits. Van der Linden (10-2) took the loss in relief of White-Stokes, as she went 1.1 innings, with the only hit she allowed being Knudsen’s home run. White-Stokes recorded 6.0 strong innings of work, allowing just one run on five hits, while striking out four.
The Yellow Jackets will continue their home stand and begin a full week of games on Tuesday, when they host Mercer in a doubleheader beginning at 3:00 p.m. at Glenn Field.