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Tough-Minded

April 15, 2011

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

– It’s often said that it’s not how you play a big game or series but how you play after it.

Following their emotional 10-8 loss to Georgia Wednesday night, the Yellow Jackets softball team is mentally ready to get back on the horse this weekend in their ACC series with North Carolina. They’ll play a double-header Saturday, with first pitches scheduled for 1 and 3 p.m., and Sunday, first pitch is set for 1 p.m. All games can be followed on RamblinWreck.com.

Fans will have the opportunity to donate to the Red Cross’ relief effort for Japan at this weekend’s games.

Tech sits atop the ACC with an 8-1 conference mark and is 34-8 overall. Carolina is next, at 9-3 (27-16).

Freshman pitcher Lindsey Anderson believes the team is certainly mentally recovered and ready to get back on a roll.

“They are one of the better in-conference competitors, so we’re attacking them basically the way that we wanted to attack Georgia,” she said. “We’re trying to keep that same intense fire and that same intense mindset going into all the games moving forward in the ACC and beyond.”

Being mentally strong is important for this weekend where Tech would like to flex its muscles and send a message to the rest of the conference that there are no signs of vulnerability heading into the ACC Tournament.

“It’s important because we want to make a statement, especially if our main goal is to three-peat as ACC champs,” said Anderson. “We definitely want to make a statement saying that, ‘Even though you have this awesome freshman pitcher or even though your record is just like ours, we can still come in and do the job and still represent our title.’ So it is important that we keep them kind of separated from us.

“More important, we want to just go out and attack all of the teams that we’re going to play from now on,” she continued. “We’re looking to go to the World Series. We’re looking to beat the top 10 teams in the nation, we’re looking to beat the top five teams in the nation. UNC is just another step to get there. We want to show them that we belong with the top 10 teams in the nation. Not just that we belong in the top two in the ACC.”

The Tar Heels boast one of the conference’s top pitchers in freshman Lori Spingola. An Atlanta native and the GHSA pitcher of the Year last year, the talented right-hander is 21-11 with a 1.66 ERA, while holding batters to a .186 batting average. She’s been an important part of the Tar Heels’ success.

Anderson, who has been no slouch herself — 7-0 with a 2.49 ERA and a .134 opposing batting average — carrying two no-hitters into the seventh inning since coming back from a sprained MCL. She believes that familiarity with Spingola should be beneficial to the team.

“A lot of the girls on our team have actually played with or against their main pitcher and some of the players on their team, so we kind of know what they’re about, we kind of know what to expect,” she said. “We’re just kind of going in more with an aggressive, attack mindset, instead of like we did in Virginia Tech, where we kind of had a slow start.”

The Jackets have not lost an ACC series this year — Carolina is 3-1 in ACC series, they are 0-1 on the road — but in Blacksburg last weekend came close, leaving the park Saturday trailing in the second game of the twin-bill after dropping the first, before roaring back on Sunday to take the suspended game and the regularly scheduled one. They’d like to avoid that pressure this weekend.

Wednesday will help, as there were valuable aspects of the game they will be able to carry into this series.

“I definitely think [Wednesday] night showed that we can hang with the top teams in the nation,” Anderson said. “Georgia’s the no. 1 ranked offensive team in the nation right now and we were out-hitting them. It definitely showed that we can hang in there with the tougher teams. If we give it our all and attack every team like we did [Wednesday] night, we’ll definitely be successful in the future and probably win most of the games that we have coming up.”

This should be the Jackets’ toughest test the rest of the regular season, as next weekend they’ll visit Boston College then host Florida State to close out the season. Both teams are under .500.

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