Softball tops Mercer, wins second ACC series

Freshman pinch runner Riain Keefe and senior pitcher Blake Neleman high-five during Tech softball’s weekend ACC series against Boston College. // Photo courtesy of GTAA

After a rough three-week stretch consisting of back-to-back series against the ACC’s top three teams, Tech softball made a trip to Macon, Ga. to take on the Mercer Bears in a Tuesday night clash and then returned to Mewborn Field for an ACC series against Boston College for the weekend. 

The team looked to rebound from a three-game streak of losses, all to No. 7 Florida State the previous weekend, as they stepped up to the plate against Mercer. From the get-go, Tech showed they were not there to mess around as the Jackets smacked home three runs in the first inning and proceeded to knock another two home in the second, putting them up 5-0 early. 

Mercer had no answer for Tech’s bats as another run came home in the third to give the Jackets a 6-0 edge; however, the Bears found a bit of ground in the bottom of the third as they found three runs of their own to edge the game to 6-3. Tech responded with their own three runs to put the game to 9-3 at the end of the fourth inning. 

Senior pitcher Chandler Dennis refused to allow another run the rest of the way as she pitched her fourth complete game of the season and held Mercer to just three points while having eight strikeouts, tying her season best. The seventh inning ended with a resounding 11-3 victory for the Jackets, a win that would set the tone for the weekend series to come. 

The Jackets were sitting at 2-10 in ACC play coming into the weekend against Boston College looking to turn things around as they stared down the barrel of a double-header on Friday, April 7. Tech took the first game 5-1 behind a furious effort by senior pitcher Blake Neleman. Neleman dealt nine strikeouts and allowed just one hit as she owned the mound the whole game. 

The second game of the day did not prove as successful as the Eagles rallied late to take the game 4-3. The Jackets jumped out to a 3-1 lead entering the sixth inning where BC would find a rally cry. The Eagles found three runs to go ahead 4-3 and stifled Tech the rest of the way to even the series. 

In sight of a second ACC series win, the Jackets would not be denied in the third game of the weekend. The scoring got started early and often for Tech as junior right fielder Sara Beth Allen launched a three run shot into the atmosphere in the first inning to get the day started. Allen currently leads the team with nine home runs this season. Behind solid batting, Tech found themselves up 6-0 after two innings and never looked back. The Eagles attempted a comeback in the top of the third with a two-run homer that was succeeded by a quiet couple of innings. Tech’s bats came back alive in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Eagles walked a pair of Jackets. Junior third baseman Mallorie Black then stepped to the plate to dish a double that brought the pair home for an 8-2 lead. Tech was not done just yet though as junior first baseman Abby Hughes finished the game on a double that sent two Jackets home to secure Tech’s first ACC mercy rule victory of the season in a 10-2 triumph over Boston College. Tech grabbed just its second ACC series of the season with this win and pushed their ACC record to 4-11 and overall record to 20-19. The Jackets are back in action again this week as they travel to Pittsburgh for another ACC series and hopefully another series victory.