May 11, 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Led by a second consecutive shutout by ACC Rookie of the Year Jessica Sallinger, the Georgia Tech softball team (48-16, 6-2 ACC) defeated top-seeded and No. 21 Florida State, 2-0, at the Atlantic Coast Conference Softball Championship at the Seminole Softball Complex. With the victory, the Jackets advance to Sunday’s title game for the first time since 1995.
Sallinger was dominant for the second consecutive day, as she has not allowed a run in 16 innings of championship play. She scattered four hits and five walks, as she posted her second consecutive shutout and 11th of the season. Sallinger, who struck out six, moves to 24-7 with the win and lowers her team-best ERA to 1.18.
Much like the 1-0 win over Maryland on Friday, the game shaped up as a pitchers’ dual early, as Sallinger and Florida State starter Leslie Malerich kept the game scoreless through four innings.
The Jackets squandered a chance to take an early lead in the second, as FSU’s Malerich worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam. Tech catcher Lindsay Wood had the only hit of the inning, a single up the middle to open the frame.
Tech center fielder Sara Wissmann thwarted a Seminole scoring threat in the bottom of the fourth. She gunned down FSU’s Brandi Stuart at home, as she tried to score on a single by left fielder Monique Marier. Wissmann came up throwing on the play, and Wood made a stellar catch and tag for the out, keeping the game scoreless.
That momentum carried over into the top of the fifth for Tech, as the Jackets once again loaded the bases with no outs. A single into left by first baseman Katie Donovan scored third baseman Jamie Frost from third, giving Tech a 1-0 lead. Frost, second baseman Felicia Coursey and Donovan all had hits in the inning.
The Yellow Jacket defense came up big again in the top of the sixth, as FSU’s Stuart tried to move from first to third on a sacrifice bunt by catcher Kimmy Carter. Sallinger fielded the bunt and got Carter at first. Coursey, who was covering first on the play, alertly fired the ball across the diamond to Frost at third, who applied to tag on Stuart for the double play.
In the top of seventh, Wood added an insurance run for the Jackets on her conference-record 25th double of the season. The hit down the left field line scored pinch runner Tara Neff, who was on for shortstop Tara Knudsen, from first. Knudsen singled to short, starting the two-out rally.
Malerich took the loss for the Seminoles, falling to 29-11 and losing for the first time since an April 17 defeat by Florida. She allowed seven hits and two earned runs in seven innings.
At the plate, Wood led the Jackets with two hits, while Reddick reached base three times on a single and two walks. Designated player Shandra Colzie led Florida State with two hits.
The victory was Tech’s third this season against at team ranked among the nation’s top 25. The Jackets have also defeated then-No.17 Iowa and No. 25 Georgia, a factor that will help Tech’s case when bids to the NCAA Championships are announced Sunday at 9 p.m.
With Maryland being eliminated earlier in the day, Tech will face either Florida State, North Carolina or Virginia Sunday. The Tar Heels and Cavaliers play at 5 p.m. Saturday, with the loser heading home. The winner of that contest will face the Seminoles for the right to advance to Sunday’s play from the loser’s bracket.
In the Jackets’ only other appearance in the ACC title game, Tech fell to Florida State, 5-2, in 1995. Whichever team advances to face the Jackets Sunday will have to defeat Tech twice to earn the crown, as the tournament is a double-elimination event.
The title game will be broadcast in the Atlanta area on Fox Sports Net South at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.