May 1, 2003
ATLANTA – Fresh off its first victory of the season over a nationally-ranked opponent, the Georgia Tech softball team (34-19, 3-2 ACC) wraps up the regular season this weekend by hosting Auburn and 12th-ranked Florida State at Glenn Field. The Tigers (26-28, 13-16 SEC) and Jackets play a 4 p.m. single game Friday, while the Seminoles (41-9, 6-0 ACC) come calling for a 1 p.m. doubleheader Sunday.
Tech is already 0-1 this season against Auburn, as Tiger pitcher Kristin Keyes tossed a 10-inning no-hitter against the Jackets in one the season’s most memorable games. Tech ace Jessica Sallinger (19-12) went nine perfect innings before surrendering the game-winning single in the bottom of the 10th inning. The all-time slate between Auburn and Tech is tied, 3-3.
Keyes ranks as the Tigers’ top pitcher with a 12-13 mark and a 2.85 earned run average, while Ashley Griffin, who is batting .309, leads the Auburn offense. The Tigers are batting .221 as a team.
Winner of 22 consecutive games, Florida State enters the weekend as the nation’s hottest team. Before Sunday’s meeting, the Seminoles play a doubleheader at Georgia State Saturday. The Tech-FSU rivalry really blossomed last season, when the Jackets won their first-ever ACC title at the Seminole Softball Complex before returning to Tallahassee for the NCAA Regional. Tech advanced within a game of the Women’s College World Series, but Florida State won two straight over the Jackets to move on to Oklahoma City. After dropping 23 of the teams’ first 24 meetings, the Jackets have split their last 10 contests with the Noles.
Florida State is led by national player of the year candidate Jessica van der Linden, who is batting .455 with 33 runs batted in. In the circle, she is 16-4 with a 1.08 earned run average and teams with Casey Hunter, who is 24-5 with a 0.64 ERA to form a potent pitching duo. Senior Brandi Stuart is batting .347 with 8 homers, 32 RBI and 33 steals. The Seminoles are hitting .300 as a team and own a 0.84 team ERA.
Last time out, the Jackets split with 17th-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The Tide took game one, 3-2, before junior right fielder Soraya Reddick drove in two runs to lead the Jackets to a 2-1 win in the second game. Tech is now 1-7 against top-25 opponents this season but four losses have come by just one run.
Tech is led by Sallinger, who ranks seventh nationally with 10.2 strikeouts per seven innings. She needs just 13 more for her second consecutive 300-strikeout season. Sallinger sports a 1.10 ERA and is holding batters to a .135 average.
At the plate, junior Tara Knudsen paces the Jackets in most offensive categories. She is batting .311 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI. First baseman Katie Donovan and Reddick, who drove in six runs last week, rank second and third, respectively, in batting.
Following this weekend’s action, the Jackets return to Tallahassee for the 2003 ACC Championship, which runs May 9-11. Tech will also learn May 11 if it has earned a return trip to NCAA Regional play. The 64-team field will be announced at 10 p.m. ET. Selections will be broadcast on ESPN News.