Softball rolls through I-75 Tournament

Junior third baseman Mallorie Black braces in the infield during Tech’s game against Southern Mississippi in the I-75 Tournament. The Jackets won over the Golden Eagles 1-0. // Photo courtesy of Brady McBride via GTAA

Tech softball played host to four teams this previous week: University of Georgia, Northern Iowa, Southern Mississippi, and Brown. In-state rival UGA came to Mewborn on Tuesday, Feb. 28 for the annual Clean, Old Fashioned Hate matchup, which Tech dominated 12-3 last year, mercy ruling the Bulldogs in five innings. However, the story was flipped this year as the Jackets never could find their footing in the game. 

The No. 18 Bulldogs were the favorite coming into the game and Tech played stubborn early, solidifying a scoreless first inning between the two teams. UGA found contact in the top of the second though, as they scored five runs on a pair of RBI-doubles and a ground-out run to put the game at 5-0. 

Tech was unable to respond in the following frame and a quiet third inning preluded more UGA runs as the Bulldogs brought home another two in the top of the fourth, making it 7-0. Tech, again, could not find any consistent batting and it led to UGA running in another in the top of the sixth followed by another scoreless inning for the Jackets, which ended the game in the sixth inning at 8-0. 

The Jackets took the rest of the week to regroup before hosting the annual I-75 Tournament, slotting the team against Northern Iowa, Southern Mississippi, and Brown throughout the weekend. Friday, March 3 brought the Northern Iowa Panthers to town and Tech made quick work of them. After a scoreless first inning, the Jackets found their stride as sophomore second baseman Grace Connelly hit her first career grand slam in a five run second frame. The Jackets did not let off from there as they closed in on a mercy rule with four runs on four consecutive at-bats in the third inning to make it 9-0. The team added three in the fourth to make it 12-0. Northern Iowa would add on two runs in the fifth, but it was over by then and the game was called at 12-2 in the fifth, securing a great bounce back win for the Jackets. 

The team moved on to a tougher opponent in Southern Mississippi on Saturday. Tech needed all the pitching help they could get as the game itched on. The first three innings went scoreless, but Connelly found home plate in the bottom of the fourth for the Jackets, securing a 1-0 lead and what would be the go-ahead score in a game which only saw seven hits between the two schools: six being by Tech. Senior pitcher Blake Neleman took it from there as she pitched the last three innings, allowing no runs and only one hit as Tech took the game 1-0 over the Golden Eagles. 

Tech moved on to their final matchup of the weekend, looking to remain undefeated in their tournament and defend home field against the Brown Bears. For the first time all week, Tech scored in the first inning as junior right fielder Sara Beth Allen launched a ball over the left field foul pole to give Tech a 1-0 edge off the bat. Senior pitcher Chandler Dennis continued her amazing work from the bump as she threw four strikeouts and held Brown scoreless in five innings of her pitching. Dennis kept the score 1-0 for Tech until the sixth inning when the Jackets batting started heating up. Junior shortstop Jin Sileo batted in two runs on a single and Connelly came shortly after to get a three-RBI which put Tech up 6-0 going into the seventh and final inning. Tech emerged victorious by the same score, cementing an undefeated weekend in the I-75 Tournament. 

The Jackets climbed their way to a 11-8 record this week and now will travel to Virginia for their first ACC series of the year.