ON THE DIAMOND
The Virginia Tech softball team (35-16, 11-6 ACC), on a three-game winning streak after beating Radford Tuesday, will head south to Atlanta for the final ACC series of the season. The Hokies will take on a powerful Georgia Tech team (31-20, 10-7 ACC) in a battle for third place in the ACC.
THE WEEKEND SCHEDULE
Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech will play the doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m. and will then play the single game on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Georgia Tech plays its home games at Mewborn Field, located on the corner of 8th St NW and Fowler St NW. Admission is free and free parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis in the Alexander Memorial Coliseum lot across from Mewborn Field on 8th Street. You can also park on the road. You can get directions here.
WHAT’S ON THE LINE
Florida State and UNC have wrapped up the top two seeds, but their placement has yet to be determined. So the No. 3 seed is up in the air and it will likely come down to the two Techs - Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech (10-7) sits a game back of the Hokies (11-6), so whoever takes the series, be it two of three or a sweep, could claim the third seed while the loser will likely be the No. 4 seed. Maryland is 5-7 right now with six games left, so mathematically the Terps could finish 11-7 to creep into third place, but would have to sweep Boston College (last) and Florida State (first) to do so. The Terps could pass GT with a 5-1 mark down the stretch if the Hokies sweep the Yellow Jackets.
THE WEEKEND FORECAST
Here’s the early weekend forecast for Atlanta. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for any changes that weather may cause.
Live stats for every Hokie softball game this season will be available on through hokiesports.com. It will always be this link.
Fans can follow Hokie softball online through Twitter as well. In game thoughts, stats and notes, as well as links to articles and other miscellaneous items can be found at the official Twitter page for Virginia Tech softball, @VT_Softball.
The NCAA released the fifth of its weekly adjusted RPI rankings this week and the Hokies are down to No. 32. The Hokies have gone from 47th in the initial RPI, to 35th in the second one, to 29th two weeks ago and to 30th last week. Playing Radford (52nd) and Georgia Tech (29th) will give the Hokies a bump and a chance to get them back into the top 30. Tech is 2-8 vs. top 25 competition (.0026 bonus per win) and 2-2 against 26-50 competition (.0013 bonus per win). Tech’s best win is against No. 17 Florida State. The RPI is an important tool in selecting the at-large teams to the NCAA Tournament and focusses on quality wins (bonuses for wins over top 25 and 26-50). The formula used factors in a team’s winning percentage, a team’s opponent’s winning percentage and a team’s opponent’s opponent’s winning percentage, and then adds in bonuses for quality wins. So for the math wizards out there, the formula used is ((WP+(2*OWP)+OOWP)/4)+bonus points.
Last year, only three teams ranked 40 or below in the final adjusted RPI before the selection show received at-large bids (San Diego State, 43rd; Penn State, 47th; Memphis, 48th) and no team ranked 50th or below earned an at-large bid. Several squads that finished in the 40s (North Carolina, 42nd; Longwood, 45th) didn’t make it. Tech finished the regular season with an RPI of 54 last year.
You can find the rankings here.
The Hokies (11-6) are in third place in the ACC, a game ahead of Georgia Tech (10-7). Florida State (14-3) has already won the regular season crown, locking up the top seed at the ACC Championship despite having a series left at Maryland in two weeks. North Carolina sits at 11-3 with only a series left at Boston College this weekend, where they will only have to win one game to lock up the No. 2 seed. The two Techs will battle for the No. 3 seed while, seeds 4-8 are still up in the air. The entire ACC standings can be found here.
This is the first time Tech will have a winning record in the ACC since 2008 (16-5), which is also the last time the team made the NCAA Championship.
NEW FAN GUIDE
A new online fan guide replaces the printed media guide this year for the softball team. This guide includes videos, color photos, links and much more. It will change throughout the year with new items as they happen so bookmark it and come back as the season progresses. The guide can be found at this link.
WIN NO. 600 IN YEAR NO. 17
Scot Thomas is in his 17th season at the helm of the maroon and orange and reached a coaching milestone on April 1 when the Hokies beat Maryland 5-1. The win was his 600th career victory and he now enters this weekend with a record of 606-406. In his career, he has led the Hokies to a berth in the Women’s College World Series (2008), two ACC titles (2007, 2008), four NCAA bids (2005-2008) and an exhibition win over the U.S. National Team (2008).
SCOUTING GEORGIA TECH
Georgia Tech will wrap up its regular season this weekend against the Hokies and will enter the big three-game series with a 31-20 overall record, 10-7 in the ACC. While the Yellow Jackets' lineup isn’t as powerful top-to-bottom as it has been in the past, it’s still a force to be reckon with, led by conference player of the year candidate Kelsi Weseman. Tech is hitting .264 as a team with 44 home runs and 88 stolen bases. Weseman leads the way with a .367 batting average and 10 home runs. Ashley Thomas is hitting .309 with 26 stolen bases and Alysha Rudnik is hitting .305 with eight home runs. Shannon Bear has seven home runs despite hitting just .140 as seven of her 13 hits this year have gone over the fence. Chelsie Thomas is another threat on the base paths, stealing 21 of 22 bases. Georgia Tech also does a good job of drawing free passes as batters have drawn 186 walks (32 by Weseman) and been hit 68 times (15 by Danielle Dike; 13 apiece by Weseman and Kate Kuzma). By comparison, Virginia Tech has drawn 178 walks and taken a school-record 40 hit batters, 36 less free passes than the Jackets.
Hope Rush is a dual threat in the circle and at the plate. She is hitting .299 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs, but is also the ace of the staff. When she’s on, she’s tough to beat as she's picked up big wins this year against the likes of Arizona, Florida State and other ranked opponents. She is 20-12 on the season with a 2.19 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 205.0 innings. She has a high walk rate, allowing 109 free passes and has 17 hit batters. She could go all three games this weekend with the series meaning so much, but if she doesn’t, expect to see Kylie Kleinschmidt, who is 6-6 with a 4.97 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 86.0 innings. Lindsey Anderson was one of their top pitchers last year, but hasn’t pitched since February 19 against Auburn due to pitching arm problems.
The Georgia Tech series is one of the oldest in Hokie history as the two teams have met 29 previous times with the Yellow Jackets leading the series 17-12. The series began in 1998, long before the Hokies joined the ACC for the 2005 season. Since joining the ACC though, Virginia Tech has won four of the seven series, but Georgia Tech has won the last two. In fact, the Yellow Jackets have won six of the last seven games against the Hokies.
GT’s 2012 stats
GT’s 2012 roster
GT’s 2012 schedule/results
PRESEASON ACC POLL
The ACC coaches voted the Hokies sixth in the 2012 Preseason Coaches’ Poll, released prior to the season starting. Georgia Tech is the preseason favorite, according to the coaches, followed by North Carolina, defending tournament champion Florida State, Virginia, Maryland, Virginia Tech, NC State and Boston College.
TECH SOFTBALL PARK
Tech Softball Park, home of Virginia Tech softball since 1998, has been a tough place for opposing teams to play of the years. Nearly 800 permanent seats have been added, along with lights, two more press boxes and a new sound system, making the facility a fine one for the Hokies to play. Over the years, Tech has posted a 196-81 record at home.
A NEW ADDITION
This past offseason, a new scoreboard and video board were also added to enhance the fans’ experiences at TSP. The new board features a scoreboard on the bottom portion like the old one, but this one has LED lights and is capable of putting team names on the board. The new addition will be something to behold as a video board, sound system, netting, side panels and a steel tress up top will all add to the project. Virginia Tech’s video board is the fourth-largest college softball display installed by Daktronics.
The overall dimensions of the structure is 28 feet wide by 21 feet tall, and includes the Sportsound-500HD sound system speakers in the board so the sound will be directed straight to the stands as opposed to over the fans’ heads now.
The 11x18 foot video board is a HD-15mm LED video display that has 216 lines of resolution high by 360 columns of resolution wide. The display can operate as an independent display showing single large images or be divided in multiple zones (windows) to show a wide variety of statistics, information graphics, animations, and live and recorded video.
It also has non-lit sponsor displays on the side and features the accomplishments of the program. The video board allows for an introduction video, player spotlights, replay and other in-game enhancements. The board is protected by a 21x28 foot net that drapes over the front.
Up top is a steel truss with “Tech Softball Park” illuminated for night games.
The Hokies will wrap up the regular season on Tuesday with a home doubleheader against Liberty on ‘80s Night. The action will begin at 4 p.m. for the doubleheader and all fans are encouraged to break out their best ‘80s gear to celebrate one totally awesome decade.
RANDOM STATS AND NOTES
Did you know: Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech are two of just five schools in NCAA Division I softball that go with “Tech” in their official school name. Do you know the other three? Scroll down to the end to find out.
Career Grand Slams (active)
K. Froehlich vs. Charlotte, 2/12/11
B. Rose vs. Liberty, 3/27/11
K. Banks vs. UNCG, 3/29/11
K. Mericka vs. Wagner, 2/24/12
B. Rose vs. Cornell, 3/20/12 (walk-off)
Career Walk-Off Home Runs (active)
M. Hvozdovic vs. Western Michigan, 3/8/09 - solo home run in B7 with 1 out to win 1-0
B. Rose vs. Cornell, 3/20/12 - grand slam in B7 with 1 out to win 8-4
Career Games Stated - by position (active)
K. Froehlich: 185 total - 61 RF; 46 2B; 24 3B; 20 1B; 19 LF; 14 DP; 1 SS
B. Smith: 157 total - 113 2B; 43 SS; 1 LF
C. Liddle: 151 total - 88 1B; 56 C; 7 DP
B. Rose: 113 total - 99 C; 9 DP; 5 LF
D. Anderson: 96 total - 53 SS; 23 LF; 20 DP
K. Banks: 81 total - 48 CF; 22 LF; 11 RF
M. Hvozdovic: 77 total - 41 LF; 32 RF; 2 CF; 2 DP
J. Harrell: 71 total - 71 P
L. Gaskill: 51 total - 51 CF
K. McGoldrick: 51 total - 51 2B
K. Mericka: 51 total - 46 3B; 3 DP; 2 C
L. Spaw: 27 total - 27 DP
B. Liddle: 20 total - 17 P; 3 RF
L. Wolff: 8 total - 6 RF; 2 CF
I. Corrao: 5 total - 5 P
K. Smith: 3 total - 3 DP
Hokies by States (22)
North Carolina: 4
New Jersey: 2
New York: 1
Hokies by Class (22)
Walk-Off Home Runs in Program History (14)
Bronwyn Blair vs. Charlotte, 3/25/98 - two-run home run in B8 to win 8-6
Tiffany Hurt vs. Radford, 2/21/01 - two-run home run in B7 to win 2-0
Amy Voorhees vs. Connecticut, 3/31/01 - solo home run in B10 to win 3-2
Megan Evans vs. Seton Hall, 5/5/02 - solo home run in B9 to win 1-0
Megan Evans vs. Virginia, 4/27/04 - grand slam in B8 to win 6-3
Stephanie Savre vs. Georgia Tech, 4/23/05 - grand slam in B7 to win 9-5
Caroline Stolle vs. Winthrop, 5/5/05 - solo home in B7 to win 2-1
Stephanie Savre vs. Radford, 3/1/06 - two-run home run in B9 to win 3-2
Beth Walker vs. North Carolina, 4/26/08 - three-run home run in B10 to win 5-2
Misty Hall vs. Louisville, 5/16/08 (NCAA Regionals) - solo home run in B7 to win 1-0
Jessica Everhart vs. Appalachian State, 2/21/09 - three-run home run in B8 to win 5-4
Misty Hall vs. Florida State, 4/17/10 - solo home run in B7 to win 5-4
Marra Hvozdovic vs. Western Michigan, 3/8/09 - solo home run in B7 to win 1-0
Betty Rose vs. Cornell, 3/20/12 - grand slam in B7 to win 8-4
Did you know answer: Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech are two of just five schools in NCAA Division I softball that go with “Tech” in their official school name. The other three are Louisiana Tech, Tennessee Tech and Texas Tech. Virginia Tech is officially Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University while Georgia Tech is the Georgia Institute of Technology. Louisiana Tech is Louisiana Tech University; Tennessee Tech is Tennessee Technological University; and Texas Tech is just Texas Tech University.
For updates on Virginia Tech softball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Softball).