Softball takes six of seven games through busy week

The Jackets hosted the Buzz Classic this past weekend, with games played at various locations in the Atlanta area. The Tech softball team opened with a strong presence, winning four games before falling to Elon in the final.

On the opening day, the Jackets earned a shut-out victory over Winthrop, 5-0. The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fourth, when senior left-fielder Kate Kuzma was hit by a pitch and stole second on a passed ball. Junior pitcher Hope Rush secured her win by driving in Kuzma with a single. Winthrop pitcher Chelsey Schoenfeldt escaped, though, stranding three Jackets on base to end the inning.

Tech came back in the bottom of the fifth to add four insurance runs to the 1-0 lead. Freshman second baseman Chelsie Thomas singled to start off the inning, stole second and advanced to third on a bunt by sophomore shortstop Ashley Thomas, who then stole second. Kuzma was hit by a pitch to load the bases and sophomore catcher Alysha Rudnik drove in all three with a double. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, Rudnik crossed the plate on a passed ball to cap the scoring.

The Jackets played Western Kentucky and Tennessee-Martin in a doubleheader on the second day of the Classic, winning both games, 5-3 and 8-6, respectively.

In the first game, Tech opened the scoring in the bottom of the third with three runners crossing the plate on five hits and two errors by Western Kentucky. With two outs, Ashley Thomas singled, advanced to second on a throwing error and made it to third on a fielding error. Kuzma homered to right center to bring in the first two runs for Tech. Rudnik then hit a single and was finally brought home on a single by freshman first baseman Karly Fullem.

Western Carolina answered with three runs of their own in the top of the fourth with a two-RBI triple and an RBI double. In the bottom of the fifth, Rudnik was walked and scored the go-ahead run on a single by Fullem. The Jackets added one run in the bottom of the sixth when Kuzma scored on a RBI single by Rush.

In the second game of the doubleheader against UT-Martin, freshman pitcher Kylie Kleinschmidt earned her first collegiate win in an extra-innings complete game showing. The Jackets struck first in the top of the second. Freshman rightfielder Katie Johnsky singled, advanced on a sacrifice bunt and a single and scored on a wild pitch. UT-Martin took the lead the next inning, scoring two runs on Kleinschmidt. Tech tied the game in the top of the fourth with a solo home run by senior third baseman Danielle Dike and took the lead in the fifth with Rush hitting a homer to center to drive in Rudnik, who had been walked on a 3-0 count.

In the bottom of the seventh, UT-Martin scored another two runs to force extra innings. Tech answered with four runs on three hits and an error in the eighth to take back the lead. The Skyhawks scored another two runs in the bottom of the eighth, bringing the game to the final score.

Tech closed out the classic on Sunday with games against Southeastern Louisiana and Elon.  The Jackets defeated the Lions 8-0 in six innings on the run rule. Rush pitched all six innings and gave up just one hit in the game.

Both teams were scoreless until the top of the fourth, when the Jackets manufactured three runs out of a hit and an error. Tech then followed up in the next inning with three more runs. In the top of the sixth, the Jackets finished the game when sophomore center fielder Hayley Downs doubled and senior left fielder Shannon Bear hit a home run.

In the final game of the Buzz Classic, the Jackets fell to Elon 6-3. Elon took an early lead in the first, scoring two runs with no hits after Kleinschmidt walked the first two batters. Elon then widened the lead in the second, scoring an additional two runs.

However, the Jackets would respond. After the first two batters went down, Dike walked, Chelsie Thomas singled and Ashley Thomas hit a dinger into right field. This was not enough to ignite the Tech offense and the Jackets remained scoreless. Elon added an a run in the third and another in the fourth to seal the game.

Tech returned to the field Tuesday to play a doubleheader against Western Carolina and swept the opposition, 4-2 and 9-4. In the first game, Tech got an early lead in the bottom of the first when Ashley Thomas doubled to left and scored on a single by Kuzma. Western Carolina responded with two runs in the third to take the lead. Downs and Chelsie Thomas scored in the fourth to give Tech the lead and earn Rush the win, and Rudnik added a home run in the fifth to end the day’s scoring.

In the second game, Kleinschmidt only lasted for three batters after allowing two runs. Kleinschmidt issued two walks to lead off the inning, advancing the runners to second and third on a wild pitch, and made it home on a sacrifice bunt play coupled with an Kleinschmidt error. Rush closed out the inning without allowing any more runs.

In the bottom of the first, Ashley Thomas doubled to right center, advanced to third on a groundout by Kuzma and scored on a wild pitch. The offense went on to score five in the fifth to earn Rush her second win of the day.

The Jackets notched an insurance run in the fifth, when Dike scored on a sac fly by Bear. Rush, now playing DP, brought in another two runs with a homer down the left field line in the sixth.

The Jackets continue their homestand this weekend against the Virginia Cavaliers.