TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Thanks to yet another brilliant performance by freshman ace Jessica Sallinger, the Georgia Tech softball team (51-16) leads Chattanooga, 3-0 in the middle of the seventh inning, in NCAA Regional action at the Seminole Softball Complex. Heavy rains hit the area at about 5:15 p.m., forcing suspension of play until Sunday. Action was scheduled to resume at 9:30 a.m., but due to rain throughout the night, a tentative restart time of 1:30 p.m. has been set.
Needing just three more outs for a win, the Jackets would move within one victory of their first-ever trip to the Women’s College World Series. The loser between Tech and Chattanooga will face Florida State Sunday in an elimination game, which was slated to be played Saturday. The remaining two teams would then play for a berth in the WCWS, slated to start Thursday, May 23, in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Sallinger has allowed just three hits, while fanning a school-record tying 14 batters in six innings of work. She has allowed just one earned run in 21 innings at the NCAA Regional.
Tech center fielder Sara Wissmann ended what had been a stellar pitchers’ dual in the top of the sixth with a triple to left center, scoring pinch runner Kirin Kumar from second and designated player Mimi Utt from first. That hit chased Chattanooga starter Beth Alexander from the game and gave the Jackets a 2-0 lead.
Those runs were the first allowed by Alexander in 18.1 innings at the Regional.
The Jackets added an insurance run in the top of the seventh, as catcher Lindsay Wood doubled to right center to score shortstop Tara Knudsen, who reached on a fielder’s choice, from first. Wood now has an ACC record 27 doubles this season.
The game had been a display of pitching and defense early, as Sallinger and Alexander combined to allow just six hits through the first five innings, but both teams had several chances to scratch first.
Tech threatened to post a big first inning for the second consecutive game, as a Felicia Coursey infield single and a pair of walks loaded the bases. But Alexander got Jackets’ designated player Mimi Utt to line to short to end the inning.
The Lady Mocs also put a pair on the bottom of the inning, as Sallinger walked Dana Reed and Melissa Ramirez before fanning Jada Pescatore and Jill Crawford, the number four and five batters, to get out of the frame.
Sallinger, who has earned the win in all six of Tech’s postseason victories, started out the strong, as she got her first eight outs via the strikeout. No balls were put in play by the Lady Mocs until a third-inning single to left center by Reed broke a streak of seven consecutive strikeouts by Sallinger.
Chattanooga put together a serious threat in the fourth, as it loaded the bases with just one down. Sallinger struck out pinch hitter Amanda Woodall and got catcher Jolene Martin to pop to third baseman Jamie Frost in foul territory to retire the side.
The Lady Mocs again threatened in the fifth, as two reached base before Sallinger struck out Ramirez and Pescatore to end the inning, fanning the side for the third time in the contest.