The softball team began their season winning three out of four games last weekend, and All-American senior first baseman Whitney Haller broke another conference record.
The Jackets swept Georgia State in a double header on Saturday. Haller was 4-for-7 with two homers and six RBIs. Furthermore, the senior broke the ACC career home run record. Sophomore outfielder/second baseman Christy Jones also had a strong outing with four hits, three runs scored and two stolen bases. Senior outfielder Blair Shimandle was also 5-for-8 with three runs scored and two stolen bases.
The pitching was led by senior Tiffany Johnson and sophomore Kristen Adkins, each of whom picked up a win. The starting pitchers combined for fourteen strike-outs. The Jackets surrendered just two walks for the day.
Despite allowing the Panthers to tie the game in the first inning, taking the score to 1-1, Johnson escaped from the jam by pulling off a double play. The score remained tied until the Jackets blasted six runs in the fourth. A three-run homer by Johnson broke the tie. Haller then sent the ball over the fence for the second time in the game to score in three more runs. After a late run in the seventh, the final score was 8-1.
Three freshmen earned their first career hits on the opening day of the season. Short stop Kelsi Weseman, outfielder Jessica Sinclair and catcher/outfielder Kate Kuzma each contributed a hit. Weseman reached base safely on her first five plate appearances.
In the second game, the Jackets scored early in the first. Shimandle scampered to home after a fielding error was committed when trying to tag Jones out at second. With the steady arm of Adkins, the Jackets were able to cruise by in a low scoring game.
The scoreboard changed later on in the second and fifth innings. In the second, Kuzma hit a double and later scored from a single by Shimandle. In the fifth, Haller committed a sacrifice fly and Jennifer Yee provided a RBI ground out.
The pitching staff got into some trouble in the sixth. Despite giving a RBI single, Adkins came back to strike out the batter representing the tying run. The Jackets broke open the score by adding three more runs in the seventh. The final score was 7-1.
The Jackets split a double header against Furman. Kuzma reached base seven times and hit her first career homer. After losing the first game by a single run, the Jackets bounced back with a 9-1 victory later in the day.
Adkins was the winning pitcher on Sunday as she led five shutout innings. Johnson had a great outing with fours strike outs but did not receive support from the offense.
In the first game, the Jackets were held to just four hits by the opposing pitcher. Johnson surrendered a run in the first by walking four batters. The Jackets were able to tie the score later in the fourth. Haller reached base on an infield single which led to junior second baseman Jen Yee being walked. Afterwards, Weseman singled and a walk with the bases loaded by Kuzma forced the tying run. The Jackets failed to score in the seventh despite having two runners on board. However, the opposing team scored again in the seventh. Johnson walked a career-high seven batters.
In the second game, the Jackets kept their head in the game. The first run came from a home run blast by Kuzma. The second run came from a successful double steal. In addition, the Jackets scored three more runs in the third. The Jackets pulled off a suicide squeeze with the bases loaded and two outs to score a run. Shimandle and Jones followed with RBI singles. Haller provided another blast with a three-run triple in the seventh.
The Jackets play in Gainesville for the Lipton Invitational. They face off against Florida Atlantic and South Alabama on Friday, Texas Tech and Coastal Carolina on Saturday and finally against Florida on Sunday.