Following a disappointing weekend for Tech softball against Florida State University, the Jackets made a bold return Tuesday evening against their rival team, the University of Georgia, in Athens.
FSU swept Tech in a doubleheader on Friday and a third loss on Sunday. Going into the matchup, FSU ranked third nationally with a 22-1 record versus Tech’s 15-7 mark. Following their three consecutive wins at Shirley Clements Mewborn Field, the Seminoles now rank second in the nation.
Despite the grim outlook for the weekend, the Jackets gave their all, scoring a combined five runs against FSU’s 13. Due to predicted inclement weather on Saturday, Tech announced on Thursday that the second game of the series would take place on Friday following the series opener.
During game one, FSU scored all four of their runs in the top of the third inning against junior Tech pitcher Chandler Dennis. The Jackets fought back in the bottom of the fifth with a run scored by freshman Ella Edgmon on an RBI by senior Tricia Awald. The efforts still resulted in a win for the Seminoles and a final score of 4-1.
The later game that afternoon offered more excitement, with twelve total innings played, with extra innings nearly doubling the game’s length. The first nine innings were scoreless, leaving the teams tied with zero runs until the tenth inning when the teams scored two runs each.
Junior pitcher Blake Neleman conceded both runs to FSU’s Kalei Harding and Devyn Flaherty from home runs. On Jacket offense, Tech seniors Kennedy Cowden and Bailee Zeitler both scored unearned runs in the bottom of the inning off an Awald at bat.
The eleventh inning was again scoreless, leaving the teams still tied with two runs each. As the game time approached four hours, fans and players alike grew antsy to see the game reach a favorable conclusion.
In the top of the twelfth, the Seminoles pulled through, scoring four runs on Dennis. Tech did not earn any runs in the bottom of the inning, a disappointing ending to follow a long and tight game.
The additional five innings resulted in a final score of 6-2. After six hours and nine minutes on the field, the Jackets left the Flats on Friday with two disheartening losses.
Sunday’s game also looked hopeful for Tech, who scored two runs in the bottom of the second inning. Tech’s offense was dominated by the team’s freshmen. Following a run conceded by Neleman in the top of the first, freshmen Grace Connelly and Auburn Dupree scored on an Edgmon single.
The 2-1 lead did not last, however, with two runs conceded by Neleman in the top of the third inning. Neither team scored for the remainder of the game, leaving a final score of 3-2 for a third and final Seminoles win.
Tech bounced back against Georgia two days later, traveling to Athens for the yearly rivalry game. Following a scoreless first inning, the Jackets came through in the top of the second with eight runs. Connelly was the first to score, reaching home on a double by sophomore Jin Sileo. Edgmon walked, driving in a second run, this time scored by freshman Emma Minghini. The next two runs were earned by Dupree and Sileo, driven in by a double from sophomore Mallorie Black.
With the bases loaded, junior Caroline Davis hit a grand slam, driving in Awald, Black and Edgmon. The Bulldogs did not earn any runs in the bottom of the second, setting the score going into the third inning at 8-0.
Freshman Emma Kauf hit another home run for the Jackets, driving in three more Jacket runs. In the circle for Tech, Neleman conceded two runs in the bottom of the inning, resulting in a score of 11-2 following the third.
In an uneventful fourth inning, Neleman conceded another run to the Bulldogs, and the score moved to 11-3 with Tech still holding a strong lead.
In the top of the fifth, Kauf drove in the final run, sending Dupree home on an RBI single. UGA stayed at three runs. The game concluded following this inning with a final score of 12-3, renewing the Clean Old Fashioned Hate rivalry in softball.
Tech’s team shows strong offense with an array of dynamic freshmen to carry the team through the coming years. The Jackets have a long line of games and opponents ahead of them going into the ACC Tournament, but their last four games have showcased their talent.