The No. 15 ranked Tech softball team played a series this past weekend against ACC rival Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.. The Jackets came into the games on a season long hot streak and have posted a 9-1 record in their previous 10 games. The weekend against the Hokies turned out to be nearly as good, with Tech taking the final two games after dropping the first of the three game set.
Though the Jackets played well overall over the weekend, the first game of the series seemed to take the Jackets by surprise. Tech had not lost an ACC game this season to that point and had won 19 straight ACC series. Despite having senior right-hander Kristen Adkins on the mound, the Hokies came out on top after coming from behind.
The Jackets jumped out to an early lead with a home run by junior right fielder Jessica Sinclair. The team didn’t hold the lead for very long as Virginia Tech came back in the bottom half of the second to grab the lead, 2-1. The Jackets never saw the lead again, with the Hokies adding on two runs in the bottom of the third to put the score at 4-1.
Senior center fielder Christy Jones added an RBI in the fifth for the last run of the game, leaving the score at 4-2.
With the first ACC loss of the season now ending their stereak, the Jackets had to get back on the field for the second half of the double header on Saturday. The game was suspended due to rain with the Virginia Tech Hokies leading 1-0. The game was then determined to be completed at 12:00 p.m. the next day.
The Jackets were able to turn their fortunes around and claim victory during this game. Virginia Tech led the game for most of the day at 5-4 until Tech came up to bat in the seventh. What happened next came straight out of a Hollywood script. With two outs and none on in the final inning, freshman third baseman Alysha Rudnik stepped into the box only looking to get on base and extend the game and give her team a chance to win. Instead she took a 1-2 pitch from Virginia Tech Pitcher Jasmin Harrell and deposited it just over the right field wall to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
After an uneventful eighth inning, Tech broke the game open in the ninth, scoring three runs on four hits. The most exciting of those hits came courtesy of Junior right fielder Jessica Sinclair, who smashed one more home run to center to put Tech ahead for good. Junior third baseman Danielle Dike added another RBI on a hit down the line before the inning ended.
The Jackets put any Virginia Tech hopes of a comeback down quickly, finishing them off in the bottom of the ninth, allowing just one hit.
With the win, Tech evened the series heading into the rubber match of the weekend and hoping to win the game to extend their ACC series-winning streak to a record 20 straight.
For the final game, Tech turned to Adkins once again to get the win. Though the Jackets gave up an early two run lead through the first three innings, Tech would once again battle back to grab the win.
The comeback started in the fourth. After junior shortstop Kelsi Weseman was hit by a pitch, and when Sinclair walked, the inning took an interesting turn. First, senior first baseman Kristine Priebe connected for a single but advanced to second on a slightly errant throw, with Sinclair going to third. Weseman tried to score from third but was thrown out from right field at the plate.
In the next at-bat, senior catcher Jessica Weaver was hit by a pitch, an inside pitch that was not close, which was the second HBP of the inning. After Weaver briefly considered charging the mound, she was restrained by her teammates and took her base. The Jackets Head Coach Sharon Perkins then came out to argue with the umpires about whether Virginia Tech’s pitcher, senior Kenzi Roark, should remain in the game, being the second Hokie pitcher of the inning to hit a Tech player. Her protests were fruitless, as home plate umpire Eddie Walker allowed the game to continue with Roark on the mound. The next batter, Junior Shannon Bear pinch hitting for talented freshman outfielder Haley Downs, gave Tech the lead with a two-RBI single to right field; a lead they would not relinquish.
Adkins worked through a fast 1-2-3 inning in the fourth, and Tech came back to bat in the top of the fifth.
Tech only furthered their lead in the inning, starting off with an RBI double by Sinclair, scoring Weseman. Virginia Tech then hit Rudnik, one of many batters to be pegged by Hokie pitching. Priebe then doubled and advance to third on the throw, scoring Sinclair and Rudnik. Weaver added yet another RBI double to cap the inning and extend the Tech lead to 7-3. The final inning saw the Jackets put up another four runs while allowing zero. All four runs came courtesy of a towering shot to left center from Rudnik, The game finished with Virginia Tech leaving one on base in the sixth on no hits.
On April 12, the Jackets hosted the No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs in a rivalry game at Mewborn field. UGA won the first contest of the season 10-2, but that game was in Athens. Tech got off to a great start, but eventually fell to the Bulldogs 10-8.
The Jackets could not have asked for a better start against a top-five team. Anderson pitched a solid first inning and did not allow a walk to score any runs.
Weseman opened up the game for the Tech offense when she belted a pitch over the right centerfield fence on the first pitch she saw. The swing scored two and was matched by a pair of solo home runs from Kuzma and Rudnik.
Down 4-0, the Bulldogs did not take long to cut into Tech’s lead. After hitting the first batter she faced in the second inning, Anderson gave up two very hittable balls later in the inning. One was a double that put two runners into scoring position and the other brought all of the runners home with a three-run homer.
After an uneventful third inning, the Bulldogs tied the game in the fourth with a solo home run.
Tech would immediately answer, and in the bottom half of the inning, four different Tech players singled scoring a pair of runs to put the score at 6-4.
The teams traded runs in the fifth inning, but the Bulldogs broke open the game in the sixth.
A leadoff double got the UGA offense going and a single two batters later scored a run. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases and a 2-1 fastball from Adkins was lifted over the fence for a grand slam. The slam put the Jackets down by three runs with only two innings left.
The Jackets did get a home run in the bottom of the seventh inning, but the solo blast was not enough to beat the Bulldogs, and the game ended 10-8.