Softball takes six of last eight

In its first series after cracking the national Top 25, Tech’s softball team—ranked No. 24—traveled north to Chestnut Hill and took two out of three games against Boston College two weeks ago. The Jackets fell in the first game of a Friday doubleheader 1-0, but they rolled to a 12-1 win in five innings in the second game and took Sunday’s rubber game 7-5. They then returned for a single road game much closer to home against Georgia, but fell to the rival Bulldogs 7-5.

The first game of the April 4 doubleheader at BC’s Shea Field was a close, tense pitchers’ duel throughout, as neither team was able to muster any runs through the first six innings. Tech’s offense threatened frequently despite getting only two hits over the course of the game, drawing seven walks and putting a runner on base in every inning, but they were unable to score. The Jackets’ best opportunity came in the sixth inning, when three consecutive walks loaded the bases with no outs, but Tech was unable to bring in any of the runners. It was a common theme for the game, as the Jackets left 13 runners on base as BC pitchers Morgan Kidd and Taylor Peyton combined to hold Tech scoreless.

Adkins had pitched even better than the Eagles’ duo, allowing just three hits and one walk over six innings while striking out five, but her luck ran out in the seventh inning. After getting the leadoff hitter out, she allowed a double to BC catcher Amy Tunstall, and left fielder Allison Kooistra delivered a walk-off single to seal the Eagles’ 1-0 win.

Friday night’s game had a shaky start for the Jackets; after Tech’s offense managed just one hit in the top of the first, BC leadoff hitter Brittany Wilkins homered off Tech senior pitcher Tiffany Johnson to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. However, that would be the only hit Johnson allowed in the game, and she ignited Tech’s offense in the top of the second with a leadoff triple. Aided by a BC error, the Jackets scored three unearned runs in the inning, then added one in each of the next two frames on an RBI single by Weaver and a solo homer by freshman shortstop Kelsi Weseman. In the fifth, Tech’s offense continued to pound at the Eagles, as the team scored seven more runs on six hits and an error to force BC starter Allison Gage out of the game. The Eagles went quietly in the bottom of the inning, and the game was called afterwards, giving Tech a 12-1 win. Weseman and Johnson were both 3-for-3 with two RBI’s each, and Kate Kuzma added a two-run homer that capped Tech’s scoring; Johnson pitched all five innings, allowing three walks while striking out eight.

The third and final game of the series in Chestnut Hill looked at first like it would be another pitchers’ duel, with Tech’s Adkins and BC’s Peyton each allowing a run in the first inning but pitching two shutout frames after that. With the score tied 1-1, Adkins led off the top of the fourth with a home run, and Tech rallied with two outs to score four more runs, ending with Weseman’s three-run shot to right. Adkins switched from pitcher to designated player after four solid innings; she gave up one run on two hits and three walks before being replaced by freshman Jessica Coan, who worked the final three frames. Redshirt junior Jen Yee added a late solo homer and Coan held the lead, giving up two runs on three hits while striking out five to earn the save.

Before returning home, the Jackets had one more road battle—an important one, too, as they traveled to Athens to take on No. 7 Georgia in a Wednesday night matchup. Tech took a quick first-inning lead on an RBI double by Haller, but the Bulldogs responded immediately. Johnson struggled with her command in the circle, walking three and allowing a double, and she left the game after pitching to only five batters. Coan replaced her and was able to get out of the inning, but a total of four runs scored. Georgia built their lead to 7-1, and the score remained that way until the seventh inning, when Tech began to mount a comeback. A series of run-scoring hits cut the lead to 7-5, and Haller came to the plate as the tying run with two outs, but Georgia hurler Christie Hamilton struck her out to end the game.

Following the loss, though, Tech rebounded strongly as they returned home to face North Carolina State. The Jackets, who moved up to No. 22 in the national rankings, were in control as they swept a Friday doubleheader 8-0 and 4-1 and took Saturday’s game 5-0. The three-game set saw Adkins deliver another standout performance over the weekend, as she pitched two shutouts, struck out twelve, and only allowed five hits over the course of the entire series; she even hit a three-run homer that proved to be the difference in game two. Adkins, who improved to 17-6 over the weekend, was named the ACC Pitcher of the Week.

“Adkins definitely keeps us in the ballgame. She’s been doing a good job getting tougher and tougher every game. She’s been doing a good job making plays for us,” Head Coach Sharon Perkins said.

In game one, the Wolfpack started out poorly, allowing freshman right fielder Jessica Sinclair to score on a wild throw from the outfield in the bottom of the third. With the score 1-0, senior center fielder Blair Shimandle hit a ground out RBI to increase the lead by one. Seniors Johnson and Haller proceeded to drive in two more runs to close out the third with a 4-0 lead.

With Adkins pitching at the top of her game, the Wolfpack was unable to do anything offensively. The Jackets were relentless, however, and were able to drive in four more runs over the next two innings. The game was called after five innings, so Tech earned a strong 8-0 win in the opener.

Game two started off with a Haller RBI single giving the Jackets an early 1-0 lead. In the fourth inning, NC State hit a solo homer off Johnson, Tech’s starting pitcher, to tie the game. After the end of the fifth inning, a tornado warning was put into effect and the month-old Mewborn Field was evacuated.

Since the score was tied, the game was resumed the following day with Adkins taking over in the circle. Tech allowed no more runs in the game, and Adkins herself drilled a three-run homer with two outs in the sixth to power the Jackets to a 4-1 victory.

Adkins was the starter again during game three, and again she was stellar; the sophomore allowed no runs, giving the Jackets ample time to bring something together offensively. Shimandle and Johnson both had RBIs in the first inning to give Tech the lead.

Jen Yee added an RBI in the third inning, and after an error in the following frame led to another Tech run, freshman catcher Kate Kuzma drove in a run to put up the last run of the game. The Jackets completed the sweep with a 5-0 win.

The Jackets will travel to Blacksburg, Va. on Saturday to take on defending ACC champion Virginia Tech. They will return to Mewborn Field on Tuesday when they face the Alabama Crimson Tide.