Softball wins series opener, but falls to Syracuse

Graduate student second baseman Tiffany Domingue takes a pitch in the second game of the Syracuse series. Domingue dominated with four hits and four RBIs. // Photo courtesy of GTAA

Last weekend the Jackets softball program (23-14) took a trip to upstate New York to battle Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) opponent the Syracuse University Orange in a three-game series. Thus far, the Jackets have had a historic season — their 60 home runs tie the most in head coach Aileen Morales’ tenure with 19 games left to play, and Tech has posted their best start in the ACC since 2012 with a 9-4 conference record. Syracuse is seeking to improve their play in the ACC, struggling this season with a 2-7 conference record. 

The Skytop Softball Stadium hosted Syracuse’s first home ACC series of the year as Tech stepped up to the plate on Thursday, March 28. Junior right-handed pitcher (RHP) Sophia Voyles got her 11th start of the season and held the circle for four innings while collecting two strikeouts.

After being walked, freshman right-fielder Gracie Hillman stole second in the third inning to put a runner in scoring position for junior left-fielder Madison Dobbins. Dobbins delivered to send Hillman home with a single. Senior third-baseman Mallorie Black singled to send Dobbins home and give the Jackets a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the third. The fourth saw senior shortstop Jin Sileo glide to first off a bunt. A stolen base had Sileo on second before senior first-baseman Abby Hughes scored her on a crack to left field. Syracuse responded in the bottom alongside a single to right field by freshman second-basemen Makenzie Foster to score junior left-fielder Taylor Posner to cut Tech’s lead to 3-1.

Sophomore catcher Reese Hunter closed the inning after throwing out Foster on a stealing attempt. The Jackets extended the lead to 4-1 in the fifth via junior center-fielder Ella Edgmon taking home on a passed ball. Voyles handed the circle to freshman left-handed pitcher Makayla Coffield. In the longest outing of her debut season, Coffield shut out and only allowed a single hit against the Orange. The Jackets continued the momentum of the last three innings by putting another run on the board. Sophomore Brionna Condon stepped to second base as the pinch runner for Hunter following a double. 

With Condon in scoring position, Sileo struck a ball up the middle for a single and an RBI. The defense held strong behind Coffield’s closing three innings to give the Jackets the first victory of the series 5-1. This victory puts Tech at 9-4 in the ACC. This is the Jackets’ best record in the first 13 ACC games
during the Morales era.

The runs piled on quickly for the Jackets and Syracuse in their second matchup of the series. A walk put Dobbins on first and a single shot to left field by Black allowed Dobbins to advance to third. Black stole second to put two runners in scoring position for senior designated player Sara Beth Allen. Allen scored Dobbins and allowed Black to reach third after hitting a sacrifice fly to left field. 

Black got home after graduate student second-baseman Tiffany Domingue took the ball to the depths of right field. The Orange retaliated by hanging a five-run first on junior RHP Kinsey Norton before Tech could grab a single out. With the bases loaded, a single to left field sent one runner home and another to right field sent two home to clinch a 3-2 Syracuse lead early.

Coffield took the circle for her second time this series but the Orange immediately took advantage of the three outs left as a sacrifice fly to right field scored another. A fifth run scored off a single to left field before a double play retired the inning for the Jackets.

Tech was unable to respond until the fourth inning behind Domingue’s eighth homer of the season. Domingue struck again in the fifth to collect two more RBIs off an oppo single to tie the game 5-5.

The Jackets’ defensive prowess was put on display as they held the Orange to five runs until the seventh. Fifth-year RHP Chandler Dennis relieved Coffield in the fifth.

Nearing the end of the seventh inning, extra innings seemed to be on the horizon. Syracuse put one on first base and hit a walk-off double to end the game 6-5 in upsetting fashion. The Orange rode the high of victory into Saturday’s game, collecting five runs in the first two innings. Another two runs in the fifth was too much for Tech who fell 1-7 in six innings to Syracuse.

After hosting the Troy University Trojans, the Jackets travel to Alabama to challenge the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and the Auburn University Tigers in a series of interesting matchups.