Tech softball wins over Illinois, Kennesaw

Senior catcher Emma Kauf makes a hit against the Wisconsin Badgers. Kauf has made 10 hits in the last two weeks. // Photo by Alex Dubé Student Publications

The past two weeks have been relatively fruitful for Tech softball, taking five out of nine of their games. The run includes wins over Illinois, Kennesaw State, Penn State and back-to-back wins over Kent State. The wins were led by senior catcher Emma Kauf who racked up 10 hits over the span, boosting her batting average from .200 all the way up to .357. On the pitching side, senior pitcher Chandler Dennis had a stellar outing against Illinois pitching six two-score innings to help propel the Jackets to victory.

The games started with the Jackets hosting the ACC/B1G Challenge on Feb. 17, 18 and 19. Tech faced off against the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Illinois, with the University of Louisville attending to play against the other tournament teams. 

After falling to the Badgers on Friday, Tech began very well on Saturday with junior catcher Sara Beth Allen launching a solo home run at the top of the first inning. The Badgers soon responded with a three-run homer to make the score 3-1. Wisconsin added three more insurance runs and would hold onto the game 6-1. 

Tech faced Illinois later the same day and again started off hot thanks to singles from Kauf and freshman right fielder Paige Vukadinovich. Allen then drew a walk to bring up junior third baseman Mallorie Black, who notched a two-RBI double. Sophomore outfielder Auburn Dupree would finish out the second with an RBI of her own to make the score 3-0 after the first. Tech once again loaded the bases in the third and sophomore left fielder Ella Edgmon would knock in more runs to make the score 5-0. Illinois would fight back but the game ended 5-2 Tech, splitting the day for Tech.

In Tech’s final game of the challenge, the Fighting Illini would be the ones to start the game off well with a lead off home run. The Jackets fought back in the fourth with Vukadinovich knocking her second triple of the season, Kauf knocking her in with an RBI single which brought up Allen, who then hit her third home run in three days. This put Tech in the lead 3-1 at the end of the fourth. In a fight to the finish, Illinois would score three runs of their own in the fifth to make the score 4-3 Illinois. 

On Tuesday, Feb. 21, Tech faced off against Kennesaw State at home in hopes of getting back to winning ways. Kennesaw continued the trend of hot starts with a solo homer in the first. The Jackets would respond with a single by Kauf, who then stole second. Allen would continue her hot streak as well with an RBI single. With bases loaded, junior first baseman Abby Hughes knocked in two more runs to put Tech ahead 3-2. Tech built on their lead in the fourth with Vukadinovich getting on base and setting up a two-run homer for Kauf to make the score 5-2. Kennesaw State only got one more run and the game ended 5-3 Tech.

The Jackets traveled to Charlotte, N.C. for the Queens City Classic on Feb. 24, 25 and 26 to face Boston University, Charlotte, Kent State and Penn State. Tech began the tournament on Friday afternoon against Boston University in what turned out to be a low-scoring affair. After three scoreless innings the Terriers took the lead through an RBI single and tacked on a second run, which was enough for Boston to win 2-0.

The next day, the Jackets faced Penn State and Kent State. In the first game against Penn State, the Nittany Lions got on the board in the first thanks to an RBI double. In the second, Hughes and sophomore right fielder Madison Dobbins would get Tech their first run. After three straight walks which led to one run, sophomore second baseman Grace Connelly knocked in one more run to make the score 3-1. In the fourth, Penn State cut the lead down to one but Tech responded with three runs of their own thanks to RBIs from Allen and freshman catcher Reese Hunter, who hit her first career home run. Penn State would respond in the sixth with a solo and a three-run home run, sending the game to extras. Allen would then hit her first career walk-off home run for the Jackets to win 7-6. Tech finished up the day against Kent State, getting off to a hot start with seven unanswered runs at the start of the game. Kent State eventually answered with six runs of their own in the third and gained the lead with two runs at the bottom of the sixth. After a RBI triple from Kauf and a sacrifice fly, Tech managed to scrape out the win in the seventh, ending the game 9-8 Tech. The Jackets started the next day with a second game against Kent State looking to repeat their win. This time, Kent State would take the lead with three runs in the third, but Tech would answer two innings later making the score 4-2. After a chaotic seventh where the teams combined for five runs, Tech pulled out the win 7-4. The second win over Kent State earned head coach Aileen Morales her 250th win as a head coach. Looking to add on to their two wins against Kent State, Tech took on Charlotte on Sunday. Tech would once again start the game off hot thanks to two RBI doubles. Charlotte would respond at the bottom of the first with three runs of their own, giving them the lead. Tech would get one more run to tie the game, but Charlotte would take four more runs to win 7-3. 

Tech’s next tournament will be against Northern Iowa, Southern Miss and Brown University in the I-75 Tournament on Friday, March 3 in back-to-back games at Mewborn Field.