Jan. 25, 2005
ATLANTA – The Georgia Tech softball team appeared in the preseason Top 25 ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Poll at No. 21, released on Tuesday afternoon. The Yellow Jackets finished last season 47-19 and will open up the 2005 season at home against Chattanooga on Feb. 5.
The Preseason USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll was released on Wednesday afternoon and Tech appeared at No. 23.
“We don’t read too much into the rankings this time of year,” said head coach Ehren Earleywine. “Obviously, it’s an honor to be 21/23 and in with such good company. I don’t know how someone outside of this program could rank us that high though. After all, we have 10 new players on this year’s team and most of the 10 will see significant playing time. This team still has a lot to prove and a lot to work on before we take a bow.
“I’m not trying to take anything away from our players. This is a very talented group athletically, and they’ve been working extremely hard in practice to get better. Its just too early to tell how things will go. Hopefully, by seasons end, 21/23 will be an insult.”
National runner-up California is the preseason favorite in both polls, with Pac-10 foe Arizona earning No. 2/3 honors and two-time defending national champion UCLA standing at No. 3/2. Oklahoma is the only team to crack the top five outside of the Pac-10 at No. 4, while Stanford is No. 5.
Florida State is the only other Atlantic Coast Conference school to gain a national ranking, standing at No. 11/10. The Seminoles won both the regular season and tournament titles last season, edging Tech in the finals, 3-1. FSU advanced to the College World Series in 2004. North Carolina received votes in the ESPN.com preseason poll.
After making its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance and finishing the NCAA Athens Regional in third place, Georgia Tech will begin a softball season in the preseason rankings for just the second time in school history (2003). Tech returns five starters to the lineup, including NFCA All-America pitcher Jessica Sallinger.
Sallinger needs just 13 strikeouts to become the ACC’s all-time strikeout leader and could finish in the top-five in the NCAA when the 2005 season is all finished.
All-ACC honoree Liz Bartle and senior infielder Katie Donovan also return for the Yellow Jackets. Donovan hit over .400 for the Jackets in the postseason and finished the year with a .283 batting average, 13 stolen bases and 24 runs batted in. Bartle hit .309 for the regular season and ended the year with a .280 average, 35 RBIs, 12 doubles and six home runs.
Tech will host Chattanooga in the season-opener at Glenn Field on Saturday, Feb. 5. The doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. A complete look at the Preseason Top 25 Polls; USA Softball Collegiate/ESPN.com Poll; NFCA Preseason Poll.