ON THE DIAMOND
The Virginia Tech softball team at 15-2 and tied for 21st in the country by ESPN/USA Softball continues its west coast swing over Spring Break as it wraps up the back end of the trip at the Judi Garman Classic, hosted by Cal Fullerton. The Hokies are on the road for 13 days and nine games while out in California.
The 2013 Judi Garman Classic, named after the former Titan Hall of Fame Head Softball Coach and widely regarded as the premiere mid-season collegiate tournament in the country, will be held at the dual diamond Titan Softball Complex Wednesday-Sunday.
Former NCAA Champions Oklahoma (2000), Michigan (2005), Arizona (1991, 1993-94, 1996-97, 2001, 2006-07), Washington (2009), and Arizona State (2008, 2011) join host Cal State Fullerton (1986) in this year’s event as the field includes eight schools ranked or receiving votes in either the NFCA or ESPN.com/USA Softball national polls (as of Feb. 28).
The first two days, Tech plays on Field 2 before moving to Field 1 for Saturday’s action. The Hokies open the tournament on Thursday at 11 a.m. local time (2 p.m. Eastern) against No. 19 Arizona (Tech is home) and then play No. 14 Michigan (Tech is visitor) at 4 p.m. local time (7 p.m. Eastern). On Friday, the Hokies play at 3 p.m. local time (5 p.m. Eastern) against No. 2 Arizona State (Tech is home). On Saturday, the Hokies open at at 12:30 p.m. local (3:30 p.m. Eastern) against Pacific (Tech is visitor) and then wraps up action at 5:30 p.m. local (8:30 p.m. Eastern) against Cal State Fullerton (Tech is visitor).
The tournament web site is here.
Ticket prices for the tournament are as follows:
Adult All Session Pass: $40
Youth/Senior All Session Pass: $30
Adult All Day Pass: $10 each day
Youth/Senior All Day Pass: $8 each day
IN THE GOLDEN STATE
Virginia Tech has played four tournaments in California since its inception as a varsity sport in 1996, posting an 8-11 mark in the 15 games played. Tech went 2-4 at the 2001 N.I.S.T. in Sunnyvale, Calif., 0-4 at the 2003 N.I.S.T. and 3-2 at the 2008 Long Beach State Invitational in both Lakewood and Long Beach. Last weekend, Tech went 3-1 at the Long Beach State Invitational.
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 630-411. 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 is currently ranked first in school history in career on base percentage (.463), second in career home runs (27), second in career walks (111), first in career hit by pitch (24), second in career slugging percentage (.561), sixth in career batting average (.318), tied for ninth in career doubles (35) and seventh in career RBIs (112). 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.
BIG TIME WIN
The Hokies picked up a big win on March 8 when they upset No. 9 UCLA 2-1 at Mayfair Park in Lakewood, Calif., as part of the Long Beach State Invitational. Lauren Gaskill blasted a two-run home run in the fifth inning and Kelly Heinz wiggled out of a seventh-inning jam to pick up the three-hit win. It marked Tech’s first win over a top 10 team since beating No. 6 Michigan twice in 2008 in the Super Regionals to advance to the WCWS.
TAKING ON THE BEST
This Spring Break, the Hokies will face quite the schedule as they will take on UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State and Michigan over a 12-day stretch. All four of these teams are nationally ranked and have combined to win eight of the last 10 NCAA National Championships. Tech beat UCLA 2-1 last weekend at the Long Beach State Invitational and will face the Wildcats, Sun Devils and Wolverines this weekend. You can see Tech's all-time record against ranked teams here.
Arizona is 18-5 and ranked 19th in the ESPN/USA Softball Poll. Offensively, the Wildcats are hitting .322 as a team with 27 home runs, 31 doubles and 23 stolen bases. Hallie Wilson is leading the way with a .412 average while five other regular starters are hitting .300 or higher. Chelsea Goodacre (.394, 8 HRs) and Lauren Young (.373, 7 HRs) are also off to good starts.
In the circle, Arizona’s staff has an ERA of 3.01 against a tough schedule. Shelby Babcock (9-2, 2.39 ERA) has seen the most action, pitching 70.1 innings.
Tech is 0-1 against the Wildcats as the two faced off in an epic battle in 2008. Arizona came out on top of a 4-3, 12-inning game that featured an NCAA record 41 combined strikeouts from Angela Tincher (21) and Taryne Mowatt (20) in front of 2,718 fans at Hillenbrand Stadium in Tucson.
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE
Arizona State is 25-1 and ranked second in the ESPN/USA Softball Poll. The Sun Devils feature one of the top offenses in the country, one that is hitting .370 with 45 home runs, 52 doubles and 217 runs scored. Thirteen hitters are batting over .300, led by Cheyenne Coyle (.478, 10 HRs), Elizabeth Caporuscio (.423, 9 2B) and Amber Freeman (.389, 8 HRs).
In the circle, ASU has relied mostly on Mackenzie Popescue (11-0, 0.94 ERA, 59.2 IP, 51 Ks) and Dallas Escobedo (13-1, 1.63 ERA, 90.1 IP, 143 Ks). Arizona State plays No. 14 Michigan right before it takes on Tech.
Tech is 1-3 all-time against the Sun Devils, who have been ranked in the top 20 each time Tech has faced them. The two last met in 2011 in Tempe, Ariz., with ASU pulling away late for a 10-3 win. In 2006, Tech beat the No. 12 Sun Devils 2-1 in 8 innings in Las Vegas, but lost to ASU 5-2 in 2004 in Columbus, Ga., and 8-3 in 2003 in Sunnyvale, Calif.
SCOUTING CAL STATE FULLERTON
CSUF enters this weekend with a 11-13 overall record, but owns wins against Missouri and UCLA. The Titans have struggled at the plate with a .245 average, but have four starters batting .300 or higher. Ariel Tsuchiyama is leading the way with a .328 average. In the circle, Desiree Ybarra (3-4, 51.0 IP, 2.61 ERA, 28 Ks) and Jasmine Antunez (6-8, 78.0 IP, 2.87 ERA, 91 Ks) split the inning against the Hokies in last weekend’s game.
Tech is 1-0 all-time against the Titans after beating them 3-2 on a walk-off single by Courtney Liddle last weekend in Lakewood.
Michigan is 17-6 and ranked 14th in the ESPN/USA Softball Poll. Offensively, the Wolverines are hitting .317 as a team with 16 home runs, 23 doubles and 32 stolen bases. Amy Knapp (.375), Ashley Lane (.358) and Sierra Lawrence (.355, 5 HRs) lead the UM offense.
Sara Driesenga (13-5, 1.52 ERA, 113 Ks) has thrown 110.1 of Michigan’s 149.0 innings thus far. Haylie Wagner (3-0, 0.93 ERA), 15.0 IP), Stephanie Speierman (1-0, 4.20 ERA, 13.1 IP) and Alice Fitzpatrick (0-1, 6.77 ERA, 10.1 IP) have seen limited action in the circle. Michigan takes on No. 2 Arizona State before it plays the Hokies.
Tech is 3-5 against the Wolverines, last playing in 2009. Michigan beat Tech 6-0 at a tournament in Columbus, Ga. Two of Tech’s wins came against the Wolverines in 2008 on the same day when the Hokies rallied to advance to the WCWS. Tech’s other win came in 1999 when Michigan was ranked No. 4 in the country. It still remains the highest-ranked team Tech has ever beaten.
Pacific is 14-11 on the year and features an offense hitting .275 with nine home runs, 25 doubles and 112 runs scored. Megan Hom is the top-hitting regular player, hitting .333, while Amy Moore is hitting .319.
Nikki Armagost has seen the most action this season, pitching 69.1 innings. She is 8-3 with a 1.51 ERA and 62 strikeouts. Tori Shepherd (3-2, 3.33 ERA, 33.2 IP), Dani Bonnet (2-5, 5.53 ERA, 31.2 IP) and Carly Mortensen (1-1, 2.39, 26.1 ERA) have also seen significant action for the Tigers. Pacific takes on No. 2 Arizona State before playing the Hokies on Saturday.
Tech and Pacific have never met on the softball diamond.
This weekend will be a homecoming of sorts for three Hokies as they continue to play in their home state. Senior Jasmin Harrell and freshman Kiara Ota are both from Irvine, which is a short drive down the 405 from where Tech is staying in Long Beach while junior Dani Anderson is from Rio Linda (near Sacramento), a six-hour jaunt north of Long Beach.
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
Tech will also have a game against Georgia Tech broadcast on the ACC Digital Network on YouTube.
The Hokies will open ACC play with a three-game series against NC State at home on Saturday and Sunday.
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
K. McGoldrick vs. Long Beach State, 3/7/12 (8th inning)
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: 187 total - 121 2B; 65 SS; 1 LF
C. Liddle: 180 total - 116 1B; 57 C; 7 DP
B. Rose: 143 total - 128 C; 10 DP; 5 LF
D. Anderson: 121 total - 54 SS; 47 LF; 20 DP
K. Banks: 108 total - 49 CF; 33 RF; 26 LF
J. Harrell: 89 total - 89 P
L. Gaskill: 80 total - 80 CF
K. Mericka: 80 total - 67 3B; 8 C; 5 DP
K. McGoldrick: 72 total - 72 2B
L. Spaw: 50 total - 50 DP
B. Liddle: 24 total - 19 P; 3 RF; 2 DP
A. Ake: 12 total - 7 SS, 2 3B, 2 RF, 1 DP
L. Wolff: 10 total - 7 RF; 2 CF; 1 LF
J. McNamara: 6 total - 6 3B
K. Smith: 4 total - 3 DP, 1 1B
K. Heinz: 6 total - 6 P
M. Tyler: 3 total - 3 P
Consecutive Start Streak (10 or more games)
C. Liddle: 100 games
L. Gaskill: 80 games
K. Mericka: 80 games
B. Smith: 56 games
D. Anderson: 22 games
Hokies by States (24)
New Jersey: 3
North Carolina: 2
Hokies by Class (24)
Juniors: 6 (1 redshirt)
Sophomores: 7 (1 redshirt)
Freshmen: 7 (2 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).