Softball slips following open ACC play

Jin Sileo makes a play in the field against Clemson. Sileo has been perfect from the field so far this season and helped record a triple play this weekend. // Photo courtesy of @GaTechSoftball via Twitter

Coming off a strong 5-0 start to the season, there was much anticipation regarding the Jackets’ softball squad as they headed into ACC action. Unfortunately, their ACC schedule began with three games against one of the nation’s top teams, #13 Florida State, which each resulted in losses. After their matchups against Florida State and Clemson, they found themselves sitting at 5-6 on the season and 0-6 in conference play.

The first of three consecutive games against Florida State was a complete reversal from what the Jackets were able to do in their non-conference games. In the first week they were able to score runs with ease as they totaled 44 through the first five games. In contrast, due to the level of Florida State’s pitching, the Jackets were unable to bring home their first run of the game until the top of the sixth inning. This cut the deficit down to 3-1, only to have Florida State strike right back with five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. This was one of those games which was won at the mound.

Florida State’s starting pitcher Danielle Watson made it difficult for the Jackets to get much going as she allowed only four hits through 5 1/3 innings. As a whole, they had 65.7 percent of their pitches result in strikes. On the other side, Tech’s starting pitcher Morgan Bruce allowed eight hits through 5 2/3 innings, as Tech’s pitchers combined to have 55.5 percent of their pitches result in strikes. The two squads had very little turnaround time as they would immediately go on to play the second game of their doubleheader.

In the second game, the Jackets showed improvement but fell short once again as they ended the game with a 7-3 loss. After falling behind 6-0 and not getting a hit on Florida State’s starting pitcher, Tech put together a strong inning, scoring two of their eventual three runs. But this was another case of too little too late. At the day’s end, the Jackets walked away having dropped both games but filled with motivation to avoid the sweep.

Unfortunately, following a 5-4 Florida State win, they were unable to prevent the sweep. Next up, Clemson came into town. In the same manner as Florida State, they played three games across two days. This series was filled with closer games as the Jackets were able to put together more offense in each game against Clemson. After falling behind 3-0, the Jackets were able to bring home one run each in the bottom of the third and fourth innings to cut the deficit to just one. In response, the Tigers cracked the game open in the fifth inning with a single from JoJo Hyatt. Clemson was able to convert the single into two runs and score the last runs of the game. Game 1 ended in a 5-2 win for Clemson.

Game 2 brought more of the excitement that was seen in the first game. Entering the bottom of the sixth inning, the Jackets only trailed by one run, 4-3. The Tigers then sealed the game with a run in the bottom of the six to make it a 5-3 game.

Both teams were able to get a high number of hits as the Jackets had seven hits in the game and the Tigers had eight. The difference maker was Clemson’s ability to convert off their chances. They only stranded four runners on base to Tech’s eleven.

After two close losses, Tech was looking to pick up their first ACC win of the season. The game opened with a large deficit as Tech dropped behind 5-0. Following the five run deficit, the Jackets began mounting a comeback as they scored one run in the sixth and three more in the seventh inning. Tech had a runner on third base in prime position to score the game tying run but were already in a two out hole and were unable to capitalize on the opportunity as the game ended on a line drive out.

Tech finished the weekend with six losses to bring their overall record to 5-6. Despite the losses, they have plenty to build on as they get set to face a weekend full of non-conference opponents. Tech looks to build momentum this weekend as they get set for the next stretch of their season before conference play.