ON THE DIAMOND
The Virginia Tech softball team travels to Georgia this weekend to participate in the Phyllis Rafter Memorial, hosted by Kennesaw State. The entire tournament will be held at Twin Creeks Park in nearby Woodstock. Weather permitting, the Hokies open the tournament on Friday at 10 a.m. against Georgia State on field 3 (Tech is visitor), followed by a 12:30 p.m. game against Youngstown State on the same field (Tech is home). On Saturday, the Hokies will play Akron at 10 a.m. on field 4 (Tech is visitor) and then play Troy at 3 p.m. on field 3 (Tech is home). The event wraps up on Sunday with the Hokies scheduled to play Campbell at 10 a.m. on field 3 (Tech is home).
Twin Creeks Park is located at 250 Brooke Blvd.; Woodstock, GA 30188.
With the weather in the forecast, especially for Friday, both Georgia State and Kennesaw State will have their home field tarped and available should the need arise to use them. Be sure to follow Twitter and hokiesports.com for any possible updates in regards to changes in venue.
IN THE PEACH STATE
Virginia Tech has played 64 games in Georgia since its inception as a varsity sport in 1996, posting just a 23-41 mark.
This year’s 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.
YEAR NO. 18
Scot Thomas is in his 18th season at the helm of the maroon and orange. He enters this weekend with a record of 624-410. In his career, he has led the Hokies to a berth in the Women’s College World Series (2008), two ACC titles (2007, 2008), five NCAA bids (2005-2008, 2012), eight conference championship games and a win over the U.S. National Team (2008) and the Dutch National Team (2012).
SHE’S GOT CLASS
Courtney Liddle is one of 30 NCAA softball student-athletes who excel both on and off the field who were selected as candidates today for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate softball. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
Liddle is one of the top players in program history who enters this weekend ranked first in school history in career on base percentage (.464), second in career home runs (26), second in career walks (109), tied for first in career hit by pitch (23), second in career slugging percentage (.563), tied for sixth in career batting average (.316), tied for 10th in career doubles (34) and seventh in career RBIs (105). You can read Liddle’s Senior CLASS bio here.
The candidate class will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2013 NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City May 30 through June 5.
Former Hokie great Angela Tincher won this award following her senior campaign in 2008.
For more information on all the candidates, visit seniorCLASSaward.com.
WHAT A DEBUT
Freshman Kelly Heinz (Mechanicsville, Va.) became the first Tech player in program history to throw a no-hitter in her first collegiate start when she shut down Southern Illinois on Sunday. She struck out a career-high 11 batters and walked three in the victory. Heinz threw 12.2 innings this past weekend, picking up a win and a save. She didn’t allow a run, walked four and struck out 21. She pitched the final 4.2 innings against Fordham Saturday night without allowing a hit, and got the last two outs of the Chattanooga win, so she’s thrown 11.1 straight innings without allowing a hit. She was also named the ACC Pitcher of the Week for her weekend.
Lauren Gaskill had a phenomenal weekend at the Troy Subway Invitational, earning MVP honors for her play after helping lead the Hokies to a perfect 5-0 mark. The sophomore batted .563 in five games, going 9-for-16 at the plate, with 10 runs scored, two doubles, a triple, a home run, three RBIs, two walks and a five stolen bases in as many attempts. She collected a career-high four hits in the win over Evansville on Saturday, ending the game due to the mercy rule with an RBI single.
Akron sits at 4-4 on the young season after playing in Statesboro, Ga., and Charleston, S.C., early on. The Zips have struggled at the plate early on, posting just a .234 team batting average, but Kellie Roudabush is off to a hot start with a .429 batting average. Alissa Birkhimer (.333) and Rachael Ratcliffe (.304) are also off to strong starts, but the averages dip significantly after that.
In the circle, Erin Seller has seen most of the action. The freshman is 2-2 with a 2.39 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 38.0 innings. Birkhimer has thrown 10.0 innings and has an ERA of 2.80 with 11 strikeouts.
Tech is 4-1 all-time against the Zips, last playing in 2004.
Campbell is off to a nice 6-2 start, owning a run-rule win over Virginia. The Camels are hitting the ball well, averaging 9.3 runs in their six wins. With a team batting average of .344, the Camels have numerous threats up and down the line-up. Among the regulars, five batters are hitting .318 or higher. Stephanie Jones (.478, 2 HR, 10 RBI) is the top hitter, but is followed closely by Ericka Nesbitt (.458), Courtney Klingler (.455, 3 HR) and Sarah Forgacs (.400, 2 HR, 10 RBI). Raven Lee, hitting .333, leads the team with four home runs and 14 RBIs.
The Camels have spread out their pitching with four hurlers all having eight or more innings of work under their belt. Olivia Scarborough has the lowest ERA at 0.75 and is 2-0, but has thrown just 9.1 innings. Courtney Roberts has thrown a team-high 15.1 innings, but has a 2-1 record and a 5.02 ERA after having a rough outing against nationally ranked Georgia. Julia Callicutt has tossed 13.0 innings and has a 6.46 ERA.
Tech is 7-2 against the Camels, last playing them in 2011 at a tournament in Tempe, Ariz. Campbell is scheduled to play at Elon Wednesday afternoon.
SCOUTING GEORGIA STATE
Georgia State is sitting at 4-4 after last weekend’s action. The Panthers have some big hitters in a lineup that is hitting .307 with 11 home runs and 19 stolen bases on as many attempts. The problem has been the pitching as GSU sports a staff ERA of 5.63 and has given up 51 runs in eight games, including 16 to Presbyterian, nine to Mississippi State and nine to SIU-Edwardsville.
At the plate, the Panthers are a dangerous squad with five regulars hitting .320 or higher. Lauren Coleman (.409) and Callie Alford (.407) lead the way while Paige Nowacki has already launched six home runs.
In the circle, Kaittlyn Medlam is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 30.0 innings pitched. Katie Worley is the other main pitcher. She has thrown 18.0 innings with an ERA of 6.61 and 19 strikeouts.
Tech is 5-4 all-time against the Panthers, last playing them in 2009 in Georgia. The Panthers are scheduled to play at Auburn Wednesday night.
The host Trojans sit at 3-5 after hosting Tech and two other teams last weekend in Alabama. Troy bear Evansville twice, but lost to North Florida twice and Tech. Caitlin Ortiz (.389) and Brittany Russ (.333) lead an offense that is hitting .255 on the season. In the circle, Rachel Rigney has seen the most action, going 3-1 in 34.0 innings with 23 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.85. The staff has an ERA of 2.95, but the defense has committed 22 errors in nine games for a fielding percentage of just .918.
Tech is 4-0 all-time against the Trojans, beating them 10-3 last weekend in Alabama.
SCOUTING YOUNGSTOWN STATE
Youngstown State will try to open its season once again this weekend after having all four games rained out in Charlotte last weekend. The Penguins will open the season with the Hokies, in what is scheduled to be Tech’s 12th game of the year. YSU went 29-21-1 last year and are picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League this season.
Jordan Ingalls is the leading hitter returning for an offense that put up big numbers last year (.313 BA, 36 HR, 69 2B, 55 SB). Ingalls hit .405 last season with four home runs and 35 RBIs with 12 stolen bases. Vicky Rumph (.340, 4 HR) also returns as one of YSU’s top hitters. State’s pitching staff had an ERA of 3.43 last year and top hurler Casey Crozier (13-8, 2.80 ERA, 127 K, 145.0 IP) returns to lead the way again. YSU’s top three pitchers from a year ago return.
Tech is 2-0 all-time against the Penguins, last playing them in 2003 at home.
GEORGIA ON THEIR MINDS
This weekend will be a homecoming of sorts for Hokies Kelsey Mericka and Amanda Ake as both are from Georgia. Mericka, a sophomore is from Kennesaw, which is about 10 miles from Tech will be playing this weekend. Ake, a junior transfer, is from Carrollton, a little over an hour away from Woodstock.
PRESEASON ACC POLL
The ACC coaches voted the Hokies fourth in the 2013 Preseason Coaches’ Poll, released the week before the season began. North Carolina is the preseason favorite, according to the coaches, followed by Florida State, defending tournament champion Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Virginia, NC State, Maryland 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 over the years. Nearly 800 permanent seats have been added, along with lights, two more press boxes, a video board and a new sound system, making the facility a fine one for the Hokies to play. Currently, the capacity is 1,024 for games. Over the years, Tech has posted a 197-78 record at home.
ESPN announced in the preseason its lineup of college softball broadcasts for the upcoming season, a lineup that features two Virginia Tech games for the first time in program history. The first game of the doubleheader against Florida State at home on April 20 - also the day of the Spring Game for football - and the single game at Virginia on Monday, April 29 at 7 p.m. will be televised, both live by ESPNU.
While Tech has been on TV 15 previous times, these two games will mark the first regular season games shown nationally live in the program’s 18-year history.
ESPN’s returning line-up of college softball analysts includes Garland Cooper, Jennie Finch, Cheri Kempf, Jessica Mendoza, Michele Smith, and Amanda Scarborough with Beth Mowins, Pam Ward, Cara Capuano, Joe Davis, Holly Rowe and Adam Amin on deck bringing the play-by-play each week.
Below is Tech’s all-time television appearance list, plus its lone appearance on ESPN3, the network’s online broadcasting platform:
2005 ACC championship game on RSN vs. Georgia Tech
2007 ACC championship game on RSN vs. Florida State
2008 ACC championship game on RSN vs. NC State
2008 vs. USA on ESPN2 (tape delayed)
2008 vs. Tennessee on ESPN2 in NCAA Regionals
2008 all three Super Regional games on ESPN at Michigan
2008 both WCWS games on ESPN from Oklahoma City
2009 vs. USF on Bright House Network
2009 vs. Florida State on Sun Sports
2009 vs. Florida State on FSN
2012 vs. Maryland at ACC on ESPN3
2012 vs. UNC at ACC Tournament on RSN
2012 ACC championship game on ESPN vs. Georgia Tech
The Hokies will have a light week ahead of them, playing a single game at Elon on Thursday before having the weekend off. Tech will host UNCG on Tuesday, March 5 in its home opener before heading to California the following weekend for a 12-day, two-tournament Spring Break Trip at Fullerton and Long Beach State.
RANDOM STATS AND NOTES
Career Grand Slams (active)
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)
L. Gaskill vs. Liberty, 5/1/12
K. Banks vs. Maryland, 5/10/12
Career Walk-Off Home Runs (active)
B. Rose vs. Cornell, 3/20/12 - grand slam in B7 with 1 out to win 8-4
Career Games Started - by position (active)
B. Smith: 179 total - 118 2B; 60 SS; 1 LF
C. Liddle: 173 total - 109 1B; 57 C; 7 DP
B. Rose: 132 total - 117 C; 10 DP; 5 LF
D. Anderson: 113 total - 53 SS; 40 LF; 20 DP
K. Banks: 98 total - 48 CF; 26 RF; 24 LF
J. Harrell: 86 total - 86 P
L. Gaskill: 73 total - 73 CF
K. Mericka: 73 total - 64 3B; 5 C; 4 DP
K. McGoldrick: 68 total - 68 2B
L. Spaw: 46 total - 46 DP
B. Liddle: 22 total - 19 P; 3 RF
L. Wolff: 8 total - 6 RF; 2 CF
A. Ake: 9 total - 5 SS, 2 3B, 1 DP, 1 RF
K. Smith: 4 total - 3 DP, 1 1B
K. Heinz: 3 total - 3 P
M. Tyler: 2 total - 2 P
J. McNamara: 2 total - 2 3B
Consecutive Start Streak (10 or more games)
C. Liddle: 93 games
L. Gaskill: 73 games
K. Mericka: 73 games
B. Smith: 49 games
K. Banks: 43 games
D. Anderson: 15 games
Hokies by States (25)
North Carolina: 3
New Jersey: 3
Hokies by Class (25)
Juniors: 6 (1 redshirt)
Sophomores: 7 (1 redshirt)
Freshmen: 8 (3 redshirts)
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
Tech’s official record book, which includes game, season and career records, along with all of the no-hitters and perfect games in program history, can be found here.
For updates on Virginia Tech softball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Softball).