May 13, 2016
By Jon Cooper | The Good Word
Baseball and softball sluggers often joke that they “Swing hard, in case I hit it.”
With Courtney Ziese, that was no joke. She swung for the fences from the first day she arrived on the Flats
“I always go up there trying to hit the ball as hard as I can,” said Ziese as a freshman back in February, 2013, her first season with the Yellow Jackets.
She never stopped swinging for the fences and in her four years got her share of hits — 125 of them to be exact. She saw 29 of those hits clear said fences.
On Thursday afternoon, the recently graduated native of Canyon County, Calif., was recognized by the ACC’s 11 coaches, being named her Second-Team All-ACC. It was her first time such honors and was the coup de grace of a six-day period that saw Ziese get her degree in Business with a concentration in Managing and Leading Human Capital on Saturday, be honored the following day on Senior Day.
“I can’t believe the four years flew by this fast,” she said. “It’s kind of scary, too, in the sense of softball has come to an end and school has come to an end but it’s super-exciting to see what I’ve accomplished over the past four years.”
Georgia Tech softball head coach Shelly Hoerner very much believes what she saw and is proud of the honor her player received.
“Courtney was very deserving of being selected to the All-ACC team,” said Hoerner, who coached Ziese her final three seasons, after taking over as the program’s fifth coach on June 21, 2013. “She had a great year at the plate out of conference and in the ACC play. This was her best year of her career and I couldn’t be more proud. Courtney has played through several injuries in her career and her perseverance this year really showed. She had a calming demeanor at the plate which made her very successful this year.”
Ziese actually made her biggest impact over her final two seasons, leading the team in homers and RBIs both years (a combined 18 and 59), while hitting .296 (84-for-284). Her first two seasons she’d batted .210 (41-for-195), with 11 homers and 41 RBIs.
“The most exciting part is just seeing every year how far I’ve come,” she said. “The work you put in, and how confident you get when you’re on the field, it’s cool to see it all play out over time.”
Ziese had to see several difficult things play out over her first two years. First there was a coaching change following her big first year (55 games, 54 starts, 33 hits, 9 homers, 33 RBIs, 62 total bases and a .403 slugging percentage), then she had to overcome a sophomore season where she’d have season-lows in games (24) and starts (10), and struggle offensively.
But she came back as a junior. Splitting time between catching and DH, Ziese became an offensive force, batting a solid .281 and leading the team in homers (7), RBIs (26), slugging (.504) and ranking among the leaders in hits (34), walks (18), doubles (six), runs (19), on-base percentage (.378) and total bases (61).
She saved the best for last. Primarily the team’s DH, Ziese had career-highs with a .307 batting average, 50 hits, 11 homers, 33 RBIs (matching her career-best), 90 total bases and a .552 slugging percentage, all team-highs. She also led the team with 13 multiple-hit games, eight multiple RBI games and had a season-high 11-game on-base streak. She was especially dynamic in ACC play, batting .313 (25-for-80), with seven homers, 16 RBIs, and easily led the team in slugging (.636).
“Her perseverance has really made me realize how tough she is,” said Hoerner. “Her calm demeanor has really helped mold her into the person she is.”
Hoerner feels the person Ziese was on the field with her production and off the field with her leadership has helped mold the entire program going forward. Ziese’s selection to the All-ACC Team — the fourth time a player has done so in Hoerner’s tenure (Second baseman Maddie Lionberger made it in 2014 and ‘15 and shortstop Ashley Thomas did so in 2014) — also continued a run by Georgia Tech, which has now had a player earn a place amongst the Conference’s best for the 15th straight season.
“I think it shows that we are committed to being great on the softball field,” said Hoerner. “The tradition Georgia Tech has of being winners not only on the field but as overall people is something we will continue to strive for. We want to continue making our alums and fans proud of what we produce.”