No. 19/18 Softball Set For NCAA Knoxville Regional; Follow Along With Live Blog
May 17, 2011
Georgia Tech Earns No. 3 Seed In NCAA Softball Knoxville Regional
For the 10th straight season, the No. 19/18 Georgia Tech Softball (44-10) team earned a NCAA Tournament berth. The Yellow Jackets are the No. 3 seed in the Knoxville, Tenn., regional along with No. 14 overall seed Tennessee (47-10), Oklahoma State (37-17) and Liberty (30-28).
Tech and OSU will play in the first game of the regional at 4 p.m. on Friday at Tennessee's Lee Stadium. The Lady Vols and Flames will then meet at 6:30 p.m. The two winners square off the next day at 2 p.m. while the losers meet in an elimination game at 4:30 p.m.
RamblinWreck.com will have you completely covered all week with photo galleries, video's and a live blog from Knoxville. Audio for all of Georgia Tech's games can also be found at RamblinWreck.com free of charge. Live video will be available at ESPN3.com.
Knoxville is arguably the toughest of the 16 regionals. According to the last NCAA RPI released to the public (May 17), three of the top 21 teams in the nation will be playing in Knoxville this weekend. Tennessee is 12th, Georgia Tech is 18th and Oklahoma State checks in at 21st. Liberty is No. 135.
The winner of the Knoxville Regional will meet the winner of the Austin, Texas regional in a Super Regional, May 27-29. No. 3 national seed Texas as well as Houston, Louisiana-Lafayette and Texas State are playing in the Austin Regional.
Georgia Tech At The NCAA Tournament
Georgia Tech is 18-18 (.500) all-time in NCAA Tournament play and 7-8 (.467) under three-time ACC Coach of the Year Sharon Perkins. The Yellow Jackets are making their 10th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. In 2009, the Jackets advanced to the school's only Super Regional. Tech has hosted a regional in each of the last two seasons and this is the first time in three years that the Yellow Jackets have not earned a national seed.
Georgia Tech is 15-3 against teams in this year's NCAA field.
For a breakdown of how the Jackets have done historically in the NCAA Tournament, please refer to the chart on page 5.
Scouting Oklahoma State
Georgia Tech is 1-1 all-time against Oklahoma State and won the last meeting, 4-3, on March 10, 2007, at the USF adidas Invitational in Clearwater, Fla.
The Cowgirls earned an at-large bid after finishing 37-17 and 8-10 in Big 12 play.
Scouting No. 14 Tennesee
Georgia Tech is 1-2 all-time against Tennessee but the two schools have not met since 1999. The Lady Vols went 47-10 in the regular season and are coming off an extra-inning win against Georgia in the SEC Tournament championship game.
Georgia Tech and Liberty have never met on the softball diamond before. The Flames are 30-28 and won the Big South Conference Tournament by knocking off top-seeded Radford in the championship game.
Jackets Continue Streak Of ACC Series Wins
Dating back to the 2008 season, Georgia Tech has won 24 straight ACC series which is now an ACC record. Virginia Tech held the previous mark having won 15 straight from 2006 to 2008.
Since being swept by NC State April 5-6, 2008, Georgia Tech is 64-9 (.877) in ACC games. During its streak, Virginia Tech went 34-10 (.773).
There have been some close calls during this streak, but none closer than April 9 at Virginia Tech. Having already lost game one to the Hokies and trailing 5-4 in the seventh inning, freshman Alysha Rudnik hit a game-tying home run with two outs and two strikes. Tech then went on to win the game in nine innings on a home run by junior Jessica Sinclair.
The Yellow Jackets have won three straight ACC regular season titles and captured tournament titles in 2009 and 2010. This year, the top-seeded Jackets were upset by eighth-seeded Virginia in the first round of the single-elimination tournament at Mewborn Field.
No Yee...No Problem
Every time head coach Sharon Perkins was asked in the offseason how you replace the bat of Jen Yee she said you can't do it with one bat, everyone has to contribute. Well, in 2011 it has been a team effort.
Georgia Tech is hitting .330 as a team through 54 games and has 11 players who have played in at least half the games batting over .299. Tech ranks first in the ACC and 11th nationally in batting average and leads the conference in every offensive category except doubles (third) and walks (third).
Tech is 12th in the nation in scoring (6.37 runs/game) and first with a .608 slugging percentage. It is also ninth in triples (0.30/game) and 49th in stolen bases (1.43/game).
Bombs Away In `11
After hitting a school record 118 home runs in 2010, Georgia Tech is chasing that number again despite playing a few less games due to rain outs.
Tech is second in the nation with 99 home runs thus far in 2011 and has nearly doubled the next closest team in the ACC.
Five of the top 10 home run hitters in the ACC don the Gold and White led by junior Kelsi Weseman's 21. The Hutto, Texas, native, known for her gap hitting, is currently fourth in the nation.
Freshman Alysha Rudnik is second on the team and 19th nationally with 16 home runs, while Kristine Priebe is tied for third and 63rd, respectively, with 13 long balls. Junior Jessica Sinclair and sophomore Hope Rush come in at tied for fifth and 89th with 12 round-trippers.
Perkins Picks Up 200
With a 1-0 win over Georgia State on March 13, Georgia Tech head coach Sharon Perkins won her 200th career game. Perkins is now 227-82 (.735) in her fifth season at the helm of the Yellow Jackets.
Perkins has led Tech to the ACC regular season title three times and tournament titles in 2009 and 2010 en route to league Coach of the Year honors both times. She has the most wins of any ACC coach since taking over in 2007 and is the first coach in ACC history to win Coach of the Year honors three straight times.
Jordan En Fuego
When senior first baseman Kristine Priebe left the April 13 game against Georgia with a back injury, it opened up the door for sophomore Caitlin Jordan. Jordan went 3-for-3 with a home run and two RBI the rest of the way against the Bulldogs and went on to reach base safely in her first eight plate appearances (seven hits) subbing for Priebe.
Priebe missed three games but when she returned Coach Perkins was forced to keep Jordan in the line-up. She has hit safely in 12 of 13 games over that stretch while batting .524 (22-for-42). She has 10 runs scored, a double, seven home runs and 13 RBI while compiling a 1.598 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).
Jordan has had at least two hits in seven of the 13 games and has two game-winning RBI. That includes a walk-off, three-run home run April 16 against North Carolina.
On April 23 at Virginia, Jordan tied a school record with three home runs.Savannah Brown is the only other Tech player in history to have accomplished that feat as she did it twice in 2007.
For the season, Jordan is batting .409 with seven home runs and 15 RBI.
Adkins Back In Form
Senior Kristen Adkins has regained her form as ace of the Tech pitching staff, just over a year removed from her run to ACC Tournament MVP honors in 2009.
Adkins, who transferred to Tech for the start of the 2009 season, is currently 20-6 with a 1.55 ERA. She ranks 38th in the nation in ERA and 56th in wins and has 132 strikeouts this season in 150.1 innings.
Adkins, who also sits ninth in the nation with five saves, has five shutouts to her credit and is holding opponents to a .202 batting average.
The McKinney, Texas native recorded a then-career-high 10 strikeouts in a shutout of Georgia State on March 1. Coincidentally, that is the win that sent Georgia Tech on its recent run that has seen the Jackets win 37 of their last 43 games. She since topped that with 11 k's in a shutout of Virginia on April 22.
Adkins enjoyed a stretch this season of 31.1 consecutive innings without allowing a run.
Walk-On Makes A Contribution
A walk-on with just a handful of at bats in her first two seasons, junior Shannon Bear broke through earlier this season and carried the team offensively at a time when many starters were in a slump.
Bear is currently batting .301 with a .646 slugging percentage (sixth in the ACC), .382 on-base percentage, 26 runs scored, 31 RBI, eight doubles and nine home runs.
All of those numbers for Bear are career-highs.
The New Top Of The Order
For the last couple of weeks, the Yellow Jackets have been playing with a pair of slappers -- senior Christy Jones and freshman Ashley Thomas -- in the top two spots in the order and it has paid dividends.
The duo have been at the top of the order for the last 14 games and the Jackets have gone 11-3 over that stretch. Thomas, who just had a career-high, 11-game hitting streak snapped, is hitting .444 with 13 runs scored, a double, triple and 10 RBI over that stretch. Jones, meanwhile, is hitting at a .432 clip.
Thomas was batting as low as .080 in early March but has slowly and steadily worked her average up and is now hitting a career-best .321. Jones has been over .300 all season as she continues to be the table-setter for one of the nation's most potent offenses.
Jones and Thomas have also combined for 60 stolen bases this season to rank first and second in the ACC and 19th and 48th nationally. Jones is 33-for-38 while Thomas is 27-for-28. Jones just moved into third place in school history with 95 career thefts.
The Versatile Kate Kuzma
Versatile is about the best word to describe junior Kate Kuzma. The Sharpsburg, Ga., native has batted anywhere from first to seventh in the lineup. but head coach Sharon Perkins has found Kuzma to be the most productive in her current fifth spot. In the field Kuzma can catch and play left field. The 2010 second-team All-ACC performer is one of the best defensive catchers in the league.
If asked to bunt, Kuzma can do that. She is first in the ACC with 12 sacrifices. Need to take a pitch or two...no problem. Kuzma is hitting over .300 with two strikes.
She also has the ability to hit away. Kuzma is hitting .299 and moves runners along at a .481 clip. She also has 34 runs scored (tied for 10th in ACC), 10 doubles (tied for ninth), one triple, five home runs and 27 RBI. It was her three-run home run that started an eight-run fifth inning March 26 against NC State helping the Jackets erase a four-run, fourth inning deficit.
Priebe, Weseman Pick Up Where They Left Off
Weseman is currently batting .439 (first in ACC, 15th nationally) with a 1.020 slugging percentage (first, first), .556 on-base percentage (first, 11th), 51 runs scored (first, 43rd), 65 hits (second), 64 RBI (first, 10th), 17 doubles (first, 22nd), 21 home runs (first, fourth) and 151 total bases (first).
With a double at Virginia on April 22, Weseman broke Jen Yee's school record (46) and currently has 50 doubles in her career. She also ranks third in school history in batting average (.389), second in slugging percentage (.778), second in on-base percentage (.504), fifth in runs scored (154), fifth in home runs (42) and fourth in RBI (164).
Priebe, meanwhile, is batting .343 with a .736 slugging percentage (third, 52nd), .435 on-base percentage (ninth), 37 runs (sixth), 47 hits, 47 RBI (third), three triples (tied for third), 13 home runs (tied for third) and 101 total bases (third).
Despite being just in second and only season in a Tech uniform, Priebe is also making her impact in the school's record books.
The Moorpark, Calif., native is third in school history in slugging percentage (.694), third in on-base percentage (.470) and close to breaking through the top five in several other categories.
Freshmen Making An Impact
Anderson has yet to be defeated in the circle this season as she sports an 12-0 record with a 2.60 ERA, which is seventh-lowest in the ACC. Anderson is second in the ACC with a .175 opponent's batting average and is averaging 1.31 strikeouts per inning and 9.2 a game.
The Johns Creek, Ga., native has been even more impressive in league play. In 10 appearances in ACC action, Anderson is 7-0 with a 1.58 ERA.
Rudnik began her career batting .588 on opening weekend en route to ACC Player of the Week honors and has never looked back. The Lawrenceville, Ga., native is hitting .318 and is second on the team and in the ACC as well as 19th nationally with 16 home runs. While catching and playing a solid third base, Rudnik also has 40 runs scored (tied for third in ACC), eight doubles, two triples, 39 RBI (seventh), a .723 slugging percentage (second, 55th) and a .424 on-base percentage.
Downs has made the most of her playing time as she is a top defender in the outfield and is also batting .339 with a couple of extra base hits and seven stolen bases. She has started 22 games in either right field or left field.
Sinclair Tears ACL For Second Time
After missing all of the 2010 postseason with a torn ACL suffered in practice, junior Jessica Sinclair had been slowly working her way back into game form.
The Marietta, Ga., native found her power stroke in 2011 as she hit a career-high 12 home runs already (tied for fifth in ACC, tied for 80th nationally) and is also batted a career-best .322 while patrolling right field for the Yellow Jackets.
Then it happened again...nearly a year after tearing her ACL late in the season, Sinclair did it again in practice right before the ACC Tournament. She had surgery on May 17.
Sinclair had four game-winning RBI this season, including a home run in extra innings April 9 at Virginia Tech.
Priebe A Finalist For The Lowe's Senior CLASS Award
Senior Kristine Priebe was named one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award on March 28. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence -- community, classroom, character and competition.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Fan votes will be combined with media and coaches votes to determine the winner.