2011 Women’s Softball Preview: Tech aims to repeat as ACC Champions

Last season, the Tech softball team won a school record 51 games, won the ACC and hosted a portion of the NCAA Tournament. This season, Tech is the ACC coaches’ and some media outlets’ unanimous pick to win the conference title yet again, as they only lost one position player and one pitcher from last year’s team. While that skill player was All-American second baseman Jen Yee, the Jackets can get production from other star players such as ACC Freshman of Year Hope Rush. If these players can continue to improve, the Jackets could successfully capture the ACC for the third consecutive time.

Offensively, Tech will hope to make up for Yee’s production with All-ACC first baseman senior Kristine Preibe. Priebe was second on the team last season with a .331 average and still managed to hit for power with 15 homers. Rush and junior shortstop Kelsi Weseman will add production in the middle of Tech’s lineup as the duo combined for 32 homeruns and 112 RBIs last season.

The most heated battle for the Jackets’ infield will be at the hot corner as both junior Danielle Dike and senior Kristen Adkins will fight for playing time at third base. Dike should see most of the time because she outhit Adkins last year as Dike hit .264 compared to Adkins’ .183 average.

All-ACC performer junior Kate Kuzma returns behind the plate for the Jackets having started 57 of 68 games last season. Kuzma only hit .245 last season, but she only committed six errors and had a .977 fielding percentage. Senior catcher Jessica Weaver returns to back up Kuzma on off days.

Senior center fielder Christy Jones will most likely leadoff for the Jackets this season even though she hit ninth last year. Jones will need to improve upon her .314 on base percentage from last season, but she possesses other ideal attributes to be a successful leadoff hitter.

Junior right fielder Jessica Sinclair should patrol right again this season thanks in part to her highlight reel catches last season. Junior Shannon Bear should patrol left field this season after being a utility player.

On the circle, Rush returns as the Jacket’s No. 1 pitching option after posting a 28-8 record last season. Rush also made 40 appearances and two saves last season. Adkins returns as Tech’s No. 2 starter after posting a 2.30 ERA that trailed only Rush’s 1.98 for best on the team.

Tech will have to find a new third starter as Jessica Coan graduated after last season. Coan had a 15-1 record last season and only allowed opposing hitters to hit .196 Freshman Lindsey Anderson will most likely take over Coan’s vacated role as the Jackets have no other pitchers on their roster.

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