Photo by John Nakano

The Jackets softball team ended their season on May 8th with a doubleheader loss to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. However, the team showed a great deal of improvement compared to the beginning of the year.  They finished with an overall record of 22-33 and a conference record of 7-16.

In their final 15 games of the season, the Jackets had a record of 6-9, with three of those losses coming in their final series against UNC. In addition, the team posted a 4-3 record on the road down the stretch, a marked improvement for a team that struggled so much away from home this year.

Unfortunately for the Jackets, their conference record landed them just short of making the ACC softball tournament.

While Tech was unable to post enough victories to extend their season, the young team showed improvement and still has even more room to grow.  The roster this season had consisted of eight underclassmen with key performers such as freshman catcher Kaylee Ellebracht, sophomore shortstop Kelsey Chisholm, and freshman first baseman Katie Krzus.

Moving forward, the Jackets will have to continue to make improvements in both hitting and pitching. Two of the primary pitchers used this year were underclassmen, and sophomore Emily Anderson dropped her earned run average by three points from this year compared to last year.

In the hitting department, the Jackets will definitely have to improve going into next year if they want to move up in the ACC standings. Their pitching was sufficient to keep them in games, but all too often, the offense could not deliver in tight spots.

The team batting average was .228 with only senior Courtney Ziese batting above .300. Going into next season, Head Coach Shelly Hoerner will have her work cut out for her.   

Despite the somewhat depressing tone the losing record shows, the team has improved over the past few years with Hoerner as head coach. In her third season, Hoerner has improved the Jackets’ total number of wins, increased the amount of hits, and decreased the team’s ERA.

In terms of honors for players, Courtney Ziese earned a spot on the All-ACC Second team and six players were named NFCA All-America Scholar-Atheletes.

Furthermore, in terms of talent coming in next year, the Jackets are bringing in the No. 24 recruiting class in the nation.  This recruiting class includes the No. 48 and 58 recruits in the country. In this recruiting class, Hoerner will be bringing in a pitcher, a catcher and four fielders, courtesy of ramblinwreck.com.

Going into next season the Jackets have a lot to look forward to. There are plenty of reasons for fans to think this year will mark a significant improvement over years past.

After all, the team is only losing three players, though Ziese’s bat will be missed, they have one of the top 25 recruiting classes in the country, and many of the returning players have showed improvement over their time at Tech

Perhaps most importantly, the team has consistency at the helm with Coach Hart. Steady improvement, frustrating as it may seem, is the trajectory the team has taken over the past two seasons, and with an influx of youth, there is no reason to believe that trend will not continue.

Tech softball has taken a backseat to sports such as men’s basketball and football in recent years. Its postseason drought, though, could soon be little more than a relic of the past.