May 15, 2003
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Despite pounding out at least eight hits for the third consecutive game, the Georgia Tech softball team (36-24) opened the 2003 NCAA Regional with a 5-3 loss to fourth-seeded Illinois (39-15-1) Thursday at the Alabama Softball Complex. With the defeat, the fifth-seeded Jackets will face the loser between top-seeded Alabama and No. 8 seed Southern University in an elimination game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Down three runs after the first, Tech rallied to tie the score with three of its own in the top of the second. But Illinois struck for two more runs in the bottom of the third to close out the scoring and send Tech ace Jessica Sallinger (21-16) to her third consecutive defeat.
Trailing 3-0 heading entering the second, the Jackets got on the board on a RBI single from left fielder Kirin Kumar before second baseman Felicia Coursey ripped her second home run of the season over the left field wall to knot the score at three. The homer was just the fourth of Coursey’s career, but her second in NCAA Regional play. She also homered in the Jackets’ 3-1 win over Alabama in the opening game of the 2002 Regional at Tallahassee, Fla.
Senior catcher Lindsay Wood got the second inning rally started with a double off the left field wall, narrowly missing a home run. She then took third on an infield single by center fielder Sara Wissmann before scoring on Kumar’s single. In the inning, Tech pounded out five hits, plated three runs and chased Illinois ace Amanda Fortune from the game.
With the score still tied at three, Illinois struck for two more runs off Sallinger in the bottom of the third to pull ahead 5-3. After back-to-back singles up the middle by center fielder Rachelle Coriddi and first baseman Jenna Hall, right fielder Erin Montgomery doubled to right to score two. Illinois later loaded the bases, but Sallinger fanned the last two batters in the inning and prevented any further damage. Sallinger also worked her way out a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the fourth.
After Tech stranded two runners in the top of the first, the Illini jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the inning on a bases-loaded triple to right center by third baseman Erin Jones. The base hit scored shortstop Lindsay Hamma, who was hit by the first pitch of the inning, Coriddi, who singled to left, and Montgomery, who walked.
Sallinger took the loss after allowing five earned runs on a season-high nine hits. Illinois also got eight base hits off her in the teams’ February 21 meeting at the Cox Communications Classic, a 3-2 Illini victory. Sallinger also struck out six batters, giving her 326 this season. She needs 12 more to eclipse her own single-season school record set a year ago.
Coursey, Neff and Wissmann each had two hits for the Jackets, whose nine hits were the team’s most since Tech’s last game at the Alabama Softball Complex, a 2-1 victory over the Tide. Coursey also drove in two runs.
Illinois reliever Sherry Taylor (11-6) earned the win after tossing five shutout innings and allowing just three hits. Coriddi, Jones and Hall led the Illini with two hits each.
The loss was the third in a row for Tech, who dropped its final two games of the ACC Tournament. The Jackets also tallied three runs and at least eight hits in each of these defeats.
The Jackets are 1-1 this season against the Crimson Tide and have never met Southern University.