A pre-season ranking has not been a common occurrence for Tech teams, especially in softball. After starting the season with their highest ranking in program history at No. 17, the Jackets could only manage to split four games and were dropped from the rankings.
The season did not get off to a great start as they dropped their first two games of the season in Georgia State’s First Pitch Classic.
In their first game against Lipscomb, Tech had four fielding errors in the first game that Lipscomb converted into an 11-9 win. Blair Shimandle had four hits and Jessica Weaver homered in her first collegiate at-bat.
Tech scored five runs on six hits in the bottom of the second inning. Lipscomb scored twice in the next half inning after Tech committed two errors.
Tech got one back when Weaver hit a home run about 50 feet beyond the left-center field fence.
Lipscomb scored again in the top of the first, but Tech was able to stop the bleeding as they turned a 1-2-5, pitcher-catcher-third base double play. The next inning saw Lipscomb score four more runs to take the lead. Tech errored twice in the inning, but was able to keep the deficit to one run. The Jackets were then able to re-gain the lead in the fifth inning.
In the sixth, State scored four runs including the three run home run to take the lead and win the game.
Game two didn’t bring Tech much luck, as they lost the game 11-3 and were spared from playing the seventh inning due to the mercy rule. In game two on the day, Georgia State hit two two-run home runs to take a 4-0 lead. State scored three more times in the third inning after two singles, a sacrifice fly, a wild pitch and a squeeze bunt plated three Panthers.
Jessica Weaver then made some more noise as she hit her second home run of the day, this time a three run shot that brought Techto within four runs.
Tech lost by run-rule after State scored four in the bottom of the sixth to take an eight run lead. The team had allowed 22 runs in just two games of the season.
The next day went much better for the Jackets as they were able to salvage the weekend and win both games of the day to even their record at 2-2.
Whitney Humphreys threw a five-hit shutout as Tech beat Tennessee Martin 2-0. Jessica Weaver hit yet another home run to bring her season total to three. Tech failed to score in the first two frames despite having base runners in both innings.
In the top of the fourth inning, a hit batter gave Tennessee-Martin a base runner. Pinch runner Ashley Byrd stole second and tried to score on a single, but center fielder Stephanie Butler threw home and Weaver tagged the runner out at the plate to preserve the shutout.
In the consolation game, Tech faced Lipscomb again, but this time came out on the winning end.
Stephanie Morris got the win, allowing one run and striking out five in the seven-inning game.
Lipscomb scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the third. The Bison put runners on the corners after a double and a bunt single. A ground out put runners at second and third base before a squeeze bunt brought in the first run of the game for Lipscomb.
Tech countered in the top of the fourth when Christy Jones reached on a one-out error and stole second base. Aileen Morales walked and Savannah Brown doubled to plate the run and tie the game for the Jackets.
The game continued as a 1-1 duel until the seventh inning. Brittany Barnes hit a solo home run to left field that gave the Jackets the lead; the hit was Barnes first home run of the season. Morris then allowed a single to lead off the inning, but settled down quickly and secured the win for the Jackets.
Tech takes on No. 2 Alabama this Thursday in Tuscaloosa at 8 p.m. and will participate in the Hampton Inn Crimson Classic this weekend against Middle Tennessee State, New Mexico and the Crimson Tide.
Tech is just 3-6 against Alabama in the career series. The last two times they played the Crimson Tide, Alabama has been ranked in the top-25. They were No. 13 in Tech’s 1-0 victory in Atlanta back on April 13, 2004.