Softball sweeps Buzz Classic, starts 4-0

Junior Blake Neleman prepares to release a pitch at the Buzz Classic. She won both of her starts on the weekend, allowing only one total run across two full games in the circle. // Photo by Dani Sisson Student Publications

Tech Softball began their season in the weekend’s Buzz Classic Tournament from February 11 – 13. On Friday, the first game of the year took place at Tech against Saint Joseph’s. The game was very defensive and was scoreless through the first three innings before Saint Joseph’s took the lead 1-0 after a home run by Madison Fife in the top of the fourth inning. Sophomore Jin Sileo responded in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single to knot the game at 1-1. From there the Jackets took control.

Junior pitcher Blake Neleman pitched a shutout the rest of the game, striking out opposing players 13 times and only allowing two walks all game. In the fifth inning, Tech scored two more runs through two RBIs driven in by sophomore Sarah Beth Allen and freshman Emma Minghini making the score 3-1. Tech’s final run came in the sixth inning with an RBI triple from freshman Ella Edgmon, extending Tech’s lead to 4-1, holding as the final score.

In game two of the day against Villanova, Tech started off hot when Minghini’s single drove in two RBIs for the Jackets in the first inning and they took a 2-0 lead. Edgmon continued the scoring for the Jackets in the fourth inning with a sacrifice flyout resulting in an RBI to bring the score to 3-0. The Jackets extended their lead further in the fifth inning when Minghini hit a two-run home run to bring the score to 5-0 in favor of the home team. The score remained that way until the final inning with Villanova at tempting to come back. Ally Jones hit a two-run home run for Villanova which brought the score to 5-2 but those were the only runs they could manage in their comeback attempt. The Jackets finished their Friday with two wins and no losses.

Tech began their second day of the Buzz Classic with another matchup against Villanova. The Jacket’s offense started off hot with two Allen singles in the first and second innings that resulted in three RBIs and a 3-0 lead. In the third inning the Jackets scored four when senior Tricia Awald hit a grand slam to extend theJackets’ lead to seven.

Tech then extended their lead even further in the fourth inning when the offense gathered four more runs after three hits, three walks, a Villanova error and wild pitch. The Jackets had an 11-0 lead and Neleman finished her second strong pitching performance of the weekend with a five-inning shutout and mercy-rule victory.

In the Jackets’ final game of the weekend they got a second chance to play Saint Joseph’s. Tech striked quickly with three runs in the first inning as a result of RBIs on an Awald single and a Minghini double. Saint Joseph’s and Tech then traded blows in the third inning with an RBI each, with Tech’s coming on a Sileo double to bring the score to 4-1 in favor of the Jackets. Tech found themselves in a bit of trouble in the top of the fourth inning when Saint Joseph’s took advantage of some Tech defensive errors, scoring four runs. Being down 5-4 in the bottom of the fourth, Awald tied the game up at 5-5 with a double that resulted in an RBI. The Jacket defense tightened up the rest of the way and did not allow any runs. A wild pitch in the fifth inning gave Tech the lead and two RBIs from Allen and Minghini closed out the game for the Jackets, bringing them to 4-0 on the season with a 8-5 victory over Saint Joseph’s.

The Jackets were slated to play a fifth game in the Buzz Classic on Sunday, Feb. 13 against Marshall but the game was canceled due to their team bus crashing while in Atlanta. Two Marshall players were hospitalized for non-life-threatening injuries and released from the hospital later that day, with all other players sustaining only minor injuries. The Jackets’ next action comes when they travel to Starkville, Mississippi to compete in the Bulldog Kickoff Classic at Mississippi State starting on Friday, Feb. 18.