Softball team wins four of five versus Ga. State, FSU

Tech’s softball team faced off against Georgia State and No. 19 Florida State last week, winning four of the five games they played at Mewborn Field. Tech was victorious in both games against Georgia State, shutting them out 8-0 and 6-0 in a Thursday doubleheader. Two days later, they took both games of a doubleheader against Florida State, winning 8-3 and 3-0, but they fell in Sunday’s series finale 5-4 in eight innings.

The first game against Georgia State saw both teams threaten to score early. GSU loaded the bases in the top of the first, but Tech sophomore pitcher Kristen Adkins was able to escape from the jam. In the bottom of the inning, the Jackets had Haller and freshman shortstop Kelsi Weseman on second and third, but they could not score.

Tech was the first to get on the board, though, taking a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a solo home run by freshman catcher Kate Kuzma. The Jackets added three more runs in the third inning; Weseman led off the inning with a home run, Haller and senior third baseman Tiffany Johnson connected on back-to-back doubles, and Adkins hit a sacrifice fly to give Tech a 4-0 lead.

Tech continued to build its lead in the next inning, adding four more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. The highlight of the inning was a three-run homer by Johnson, her team-leading ninth long ball of the season. The game was called after five innings, so the Jackets claimed a 8-0 victory in the opener.

In game two, Tech picked up right where it left off, scoring twice in the first inning after GSU starting pitcher Kate Gaskill walked the first two hitters she faced. Tech eventually turned it into a 5-0 game in the third inning on sophomore Kristen Adkins’ fifth home run, a three-run shot to center.

Johnson extended the lead to 6-0 in the fifth with a solo home run to left field. She was Tech’s starting pitcher for the game and was stellar, pitching a complete-game shutout while striking out 12 and walking none.

Tech’s first two games against the No. 19 Florida State Seminoles were delayed by rain, but the Jackets continued to play well despite the weather, sweeping the Saturday doubleheader by scores of 8-3 in the first game and 3-0 in the second.

Tech wasted no time from the very beginning of the first game, with Haller hitting a first-inning grand slam to put Tech ahead 4-0. Florida State quickly responded in the top of the second, scoring an unearned run after a Weseman error. However, Tech got the run back in the bottom half when sophomore designated player Jessica Weaver hit a solo home run.

The score remained 5-1 until the bottom of the fourth, when Tech scored two more runs on an error by Seminole right fielder Shayla Jackson. The Jackets scored again in the bottom of the sixth, when freshman second baseman Jen Yee hit her sixth home run of the season. Florida State added two more runs over the sixth and seventh innings but never came any closer, so Tech took home an 8-3 victory in the first game.

The lack of scoring in game two was the result of a pitchers’ duel between Tech’s Johnson and FSU’s Sarah Hamilton. Tech pushed across a run in the third inning on an Adkins RBI double, and Johnson connected on a two-run homer in the fifth to give the Jackets a 3-0 lead. That would be the only scoring in the game, as Johnson pitched her second complete-game shutout in three days, striking out five and allowing that many baserunners.

Game three proved to be the closest battle of the week for the Jackets. The game was close throughout, as neither team was able to build a big lead. However, FSU managed to take their first lead of the series during the top of the fourth inning. With two runners on base and two outs, Michelle Snyder connected for a three-run home run to give the Seminoles a 3-1 lead. State scored another home run in the fifth inning, making the score 4-1.

Johnson struggled after a pair of strong pitching performances, surrendering four runs on seven hits and four walks in five innings. She swapped positions with Adkins for the sixth inning, taking over third base while Adkins pitched the remainder of the game.

Still down 4-1 in the seventh inning, Tech mounted a comeback. Weaver and sophomore left fielder Christy Jones hit back-to-back singles to open the inning, and senior center fielder Blair shimandle dropped a bunt down; Shimandle reached base on the sacrifice attempt after an error. Haller knocked in two runs with a single, and Johnson tied the game with a hit of her own. The game went into the eighth inning, but Florida State quickly scored the go-ahead run. Unfortunately, when their time came to bat, the Jackets were unable to secure a victory in their final frame, and they fell by the score of 5-4.

Following the 4-1 stretch, the Jackets improved to 26-9 overall, including a 4-2 mark in ACC games to date. Their two victories over the ranked Seminoles meant that in the process, the Jackets earned something they have not held since the 2008 preseason: a spot in the national Top 25 rankings. The ESPN.com/USA Today poll ranked the Jackets at No. 24 in the nation, the second-highest ranking of any ACC team. Tech passed FSU, which dropped out of the rankings; meanwhile, they remain behind No. 16 North Carolina, which is also atop the conference standings with a 7-2 re cord in ACC play to date.

Tech will travel to Chestnut Hill this weekend to take on Boston College in another conference matchup, once again playing a Saturday doubleheader followed by a Sunday afternoon game. On Wednesday, the Tech will play in-state rival Georgia in Athens.