May 17, 2008
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Georgia Tech (32-31) crushed second-seeded South Florida (44-20) 9-2 to avoid elimination but then saw its season come to an end at the hands of third-seeded Central Florida (48-19), 7-1 Saturday evening in the NCAA Softball Gainesville Regional. Junior Blair Shimandle went 2-for-2 with a home run and three RBI helping the Jackets beat the Bulls, but they were unable to solve UCF ace Allison Kime. She held them to just two singles in four innings of work and the Knights offense scored five times in the fifth inning to break open a 2-0 game.
Senior Aileen Morales closed out her stellar Tech career with another record to her resume as she broke her own single-season stolen base record with No. 45 in the first inning. She added another one later in the game for good measure. Senior Whitney Humphreys picked up her 20th win of the season, but also suffered the defeat in the loss to UCF. The Yellow Jackets, who were 10-21 in late March, overcame several injuries to finish the year over .500 and earn the school’s seventh straight NCAA Tournament berth.
“I am so proud of this team, especially the seniors,” head coach Sharon Perkins said. “We overcame so much adversity this year and to have a chance to play in postseason is a great tribute to who they are. They never stopped battling all season and that is why we are here. I want to personally thank each of the seniors for what they have meant to this program and the Institute. Looking forward, I think there is a lot to be excited about for next year but this has been a special team and I feel so privileged to have had the chance to coach them.”
Junior Tiffany Johnson got the start for the Jackets against South Florida, but was quickly pulled after she walked the first two batters on eight pitches. Senior Whitney Humphreys came in facing a two-on and nobody out jam, but used a double-play and a lazy fly out to right field to end the inning.
Georgia Tech took advantage of the momentum and pushed a run across in the bottom of the first inning against South Florida pitcher Courtney Mosch. Senior Aileen Morales led off with a single to left field and then stole second base. It was her 45th of the season in 47 opportunities breaking her own single-season school record which she set back in her freshman year of 2005. After being sacrificed to second base by junior Blair Shimandle, Morales scored the game’s first run on a ringing single to left field off the bat of senior Savannah Brown. Junior Whitney Haller followed with a single to right field, but Mosch was able to get out of the jam.
The Yellow Jackets added three runs in the bottom of the second inning with the help of some sloppy South Florida defense. With one out, senior Stephanie Butler reached on a two-base error as her come-backer to Mosch was thrown away. Freshman Christy Jones followed with an infield single and then stole second base, her 30th of the season. Morales followed with a ground ball to second baseman Britta Giddens. Giddens tried to throw the runner out at the plate, but a perfect slide by Butler to the outside of the plate avoided the tag of USF catcher Cat Olnick and gave Tech a 2-0 lead.
With runners at first and third and just one out, Morales stole second base, but Olnick’s throw down to second base was dropped by USF shortstop Tara Toscano allowing Jones to score the third Yellow Jacket run. Shimandle then made it 4-0 Tech with a RBI single into centerfield over the drawn in infield.
Mosch got out of the inning without any more damage and then the Bulls offense got her two of the runs back in the top of the third inning. Kit Dunbar had a RBI single and Giddens added a sac fly.
Tech blew the game open with three runs in the bottom of the third inning as the Bulls committed three more errors. Senior Brittany Barnes got it going with one out as her fly ball into centerfield was dropped by Aya Nakajima. Freshman Jessica Weaver then hit a ground ball to the left side that resulted in the fourth USF error. Shortstop Tara Toscano fielded the ground ball and tried to get Barnes the lead runner at second, but Giddens dropped the ball allowing Barnes to move to third base. The next play also resulted in an error as senior Becky McCraw hit a grounder to short. Toscano threw home trying to get freshman pinch runner Amelia Beach, but the throw went to the backstop. Beach scored and the Jackets soon had runners at second and third with still just the one out.
Mosch finally got the second out of the inning when she whiffed freshman pinch hitter Amanda Crow, but a clutch two-out, two-run single up the middle by Jones gave the Jackets some breathing room at 7-2. That also spelled the end of the day for Mosch as she was relived by Kristen Gordon. Morales greeted Gordon with an infield single and then a walk to Shimandle loaded the bases, but Brown flew out to the track in left-center ending the long inning.
After Humphreys got out of a two-on, one-out jam in the top of the fifth inning Tech made it a 9-2 game with two more runs in the bottom half of the frame. With two outs, junior Blair Shimandle crushed a two-run home run to right-center. It was her second home run of the season and was more than enough insurance for Humphreys (20-16). She retired the Bulls in the seventh to keep Tech’s season alive and set up a game with Central Florida in less than an hour. Humphreys was charged with two earned runs on six hits and a walk. She had a strikeout. Mosch (17-9) gave up seven runs on seven hits, but only two of those were earned. She did not walk a batter and fanned two in 3.2 innings. Gordon allowed two earned runs on three hits and two walks. She had two strikeouts.
Central Florida struck first for a run in the top of the first inning on two bloop hits. Tiffany Lane led off with a bloop double that just fell fair down the left-field line. She was still there with two outs, when Hillary Barrow singled softly into left field driving her in for the game’s first run. Humphreys walked the next batter, but was able to strike out Lexi Gresham to end the inning.
After Tech was retired in order in the bottom of the first inning, UCF added another run in the top of the second but it could have been worse. After an error and a single, the Knights had runners at first and second with one out when Lane ripped a double over the head of Shimandle in right field. One run scored, but the combination of Shimandle to McCraw and Brown at the plate gunned down the second runner trying to score. It was the second run at the plate that the Jackets cut down in the series. With a runner on third and two outs, Humphreys punched out Marquita Council to end the inning.
It was still 2-0 UCF in the fourth when the Jackets finally got a hit against Allison Kime. With one out, Brown lined a single into left-center and then Haller drilled a single up the middle putting two on with one out. Tech had its first scoring chance of the game, but Kime came back to strike out both Barnes and Weaver ending the threat.
UCF proceeded to blow the game wide open in the fifth inning and knock Humphreys out of the game. Another triple by Lane, her second of the game, a squeeze by Council and then a two-run home run by Barrow made it a 5-0 game.
Johnson entered the game in relief of Humphreys with the bases empty and one out and allowed two more runs to score so it was now 7-0 UCF and just nine outs for the Jackets to play with.
Tech did add a run in the bottom of the seventh inning on a Jones RBI single, but UCF prevailed 7-1 and will play #1 Florida for a trip to the Super Regionals tomorrow at 1:00 p.m.