Feb. 8, 2006
After graduating early from high school to join the Georgia Tech softball team in January 2005, Aileen Morales proved to her teammates that she could make the transition to collegiate softball rather quickly, earning Atlantic Coast Conference Co-Freshman of the Year, All-ACC and All-Southeast Region honors. As a sophomore, the Columbus, Ga., native is ready to step up her game to lead the Yellow Jackets to their third ACC Tournament title in five seasons. She sat down with ramblinwreck.com and discussed the upcoming season.
Ramblinwreck.com: What are the team strengths heading into the 2006 season?
Morales: Our offense is a lot stronger. There is a lot more power, and we can rely on the long ball more, rather than trying to get one or two runs, now we have the ability to score five or six. What’s crazy about it is we have so many of the core people coming back, but we have a lot more power. It seems like everyone worked really hard in the offseason.
Ramblinwreck.com: What are some of the things you can take from your freshman season to your sophomore season?
Morales: It’s not a new experience. I’m more settled in to the daily routine and can relax and play and not be stressed about doing [whether I’m] this right or that right. The game does not seem as complicated as it did last year. You pick up on things quicker. I’m more in to the game, it comes more naturally now. When I’m at the plate, I have more of a plan, rather than just trying to hit the ball.
Ramblinwreck.com: Last season Jessica Sallinger (all-time ACC strikeout leader) fanned a school record 373 hitters, this year it does not appear that will be the case. Does that add pressure to the defense?
Morales: You want the ball hit to you. Sure, you want the pitcher to strike them out, but you want action [as a defensive player]. Last year we were not able to showcase our defensively capabilities, but I think this year people will see how strong we are defensively.
Ramblinwreck.com: How do you feel about being the defending ACC champions and being selected second in the preseason ACC poll?
Morales: It’s upsetting, but on the other hand, we enjoy the role of being the underdog. It gives you something to shoot for. It’s better to start under the radar and come out of no where and surprise people.
Ramblinwreck.com: What do you think about how difficult the schedule is with five top 11 opponents according to the preseason Top 25 Polls?
Morales: I’m excited. It’s a tremendous challenge. In order to be the best, you have to beat the best. Bring them on, let’s play them. It will be a great test, and come Friday, we’re going to see what were made of [when Tech takes on No. 18 Missouri]. You are only going to gain from playing games like that, even if you lose. There’s so much more added to these types of games, because people know them nationally.
Ramblinwreck.com: You were named ACC Co-Freshman of the Year, All-ACC and All-Southeast Region in 2005. How can you repeat those performances?
Morales: I don’t know. I’m just going to go out there and play my game, and what ever happens, happens. All I can do is play my game and help the team the best I can. The individual accolades are a byproduct of the team doing well. It’s more about the team. If we win ACCs, go to a Super Regional and get to a World Series, that’s what matters.
Ramblinwreck.com: When the season is all said and done, where do you see Georgia Tech?
Morales: Ultimately I’d like to see us at the World Series. The important thing for us this season is to play our brand of softball and winning the games we should. As a whole, our team goal is to make it to a World Series, but if we don’t and still play our best, then we will have to be satisfied with that. We want to win ACCs again, make it to a Super Regional and hopefully take that next step and get to a World Series.
Ramblinwreck.com: Last year you stole a school record 44 stolen bases. What is your goal this year?
Morales: As long as we are winning, honestly, it doesn’t matter as long as I’m doing my part for us to win. If I only steal 20 bases and we’re winning then it really doesn’t matter. My goal is to steal 50, but we’ll see.