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Yee, Wheeee!

Feb. 23, 2010

by Jon Cooper, OSR Associate

ATLANTA — Jen Yee loves playing softball.

There’s nothing that can stop her from doing it.

Apparently, there’s no ONE that can stop her, either.

The redshirt senior second baseman has reached base in all nine Georgia Tech games this season and leads the team in hits (15), runs (15), total bases (32) walks (9), on-base percentage (.727 — almost 300 points ahead of her nearest teammate Kate Kuzma, who is at .444) and slugging average (1.333, over 500 points higher than Hope Rush, who is next a .828).

She is tied for the team lead in homers (4, with Rush) and stolen bases (2, in 2 attempts, with Christy Jones).

Sounds like a great start. For Yee, it sounds typical.

“She’s nice to have,” said Tech coach Sharon Perkins with a big laugh — the kind that comes with having the luxury of being able to write Yee’s name into the top spot of the batting order every day.

“She’s one that you know you can count on, especially postseason, she’s going to come through,” Perkins continued. “She’s one that you need to figure out how you’re going to protect her in the lineup because she’s not always going to see the pitches. You need to figure out who can handle hitting in front of her and hitting behind her.”

It’s a dilemma Perkins can live with. The fact that Yee is so high up on Tech’s homers and slugging average lists proves more than anything that teams either don’t know her yet or are extremely stubborn in their insistence to even pitching to her. These teams are discovering that pitching to the Yellow Jackets in general can be problematic.

“Our offense is the best it’s probably ever been in my four years that I’ve seen,” said Yee, who led the 2009 team with 16 homers and this summer blasted four round-trippers in helping Canada to a bronze medal at the World Cup of Softball. “We’re going to hit the ball really hard and I wouldn’t be surprised if we lead the country in home runs this year. We’re that big. I’m really excited.”

Getting Yee excited isn’t easy. Not with the resume she has compiled — a resume that includes playing for Canada at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and leading Tech to ACC regular-season and Tournament championships last year then to the school’s first Super Regional last season. She’s from North Delta, British Columbia.

“She is very calm, cool and collected all the time,” said sophomore shortstop Kelsi Weseman. “She never really gets upset. Anything that happens she’s like, ‘Cool. We’ll deal with it and move on.'”

Yee has 25 percent of the team’s walks and has scored more than 25 percent of the team’s runs. It’s likely that her team lead in walks is only going to grow, as teams start pitching around her.

That’s not going to spoil the party, though.

“I don’t really see it as a concern,” Yee said, matter-of-factly. “A walk is as good as a single, right? All our big hitters are behind me. They can hit me in and that’s great.”

They have thus far, with Weseman hitting .333 (third on the team), with three homers, 12 RBIs, 21 total bases and a .778 slugging percentage out of the two-hole and Rush hitting a robust .379 with four homers, 11 RBIs, and an .828 slugging average.

For the record, she’s as solid with the glove.

“She’s money at second,” said Perkins. “Second base is interesting because it’s got to be somebody that can read and get to first base on a bunt or a slap and read different defenses and different types of things. Second’s a definite thinking position. It’s perfect for her.”

About the only problem Perkins has with Yee is that she’s in her final season of eligibility. But that doesn’t mean she’s leaving the sport.

Yee will continue to play internationally and hopes to one day design equipment. Since she graduates next year she also plans to stick around and help out the team.

But that is all next season. There is still so much to do in 2010 and nothing will put a damper on the good times still to come.

“I love Georgia Tech as a school,” said Yee, who played one season at Niagara before transferring to Tech. “I chose this school for a reason, for the academic side and the softball side and I just love Atlanta. I love the city. I’m not going to graduate this year. I’m going to graduate next year. I’m going to be around for their next season, helping out.

“I’m kind of excited that it’s the last time around,” she added, with a laugh. “I really want to expand my horizons as far as softball goes and my career. I am an engineer for a reason. I don’t plan on playing softball forever.”

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