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Yellow Jacket Roundup: Waxes Poetic

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We get in the weeds on women’s basketball, club sports, and waxing poetically about non-revenue sports.

Diving from the 10m platform at the McAuley Aquatic Center (Senior Day vs. SCAD, Georgia Southern)
Georgia Tech Athletics/Danny Karnik

CLEMSON, SOUTH CAROLINA - Georgia Tech softball gets back in action in a soggy Atlanta, while tennis, women’s basketball, and golf are out and about making moves. But the real story is down in In the Club House, where Men’s Lacrosse managed to knock off no. 1 South Carolina 15-5 under the Friday Night Lights on Roe Stamps Field.


Monday Musings:

Idea Credit Chris Paschal, of course

It’s always kind of a bittersweet trip to the Fike Recreation Center up in Clemson. I’m sure it’s far harder for, say, the father of one of my friends, who swam for Clemson Swimming back in their heyday. I am but a swimmer-turned-writer nostalgic for a team I cannot remember ever seeing compete, before my time, for an athletic department that is, by all means, one of my school’s top rivals. To be frank, though, if you weren’t paying attention, you would hardly notice the Tigers were gone. They haven’t even been away all that long, though, is the thing. The women’s diving team held on for seven years after the women’s swimming program was cut along with men’s swimming and diving after the 2010 season. The team got two years to fade out into the wild blue yonder while women’s diving soldiered on, much like the Miami men, but, in the whole, far less successful. If you walked into the McHugh pool, completely renovated as recently as 2003, you wouldn’t think things were all that different. The platforms still stand, with Clemson emblazoned up the center column, the varsity scoreboard still hangs, permanently decommissioned after the team’s fold, and the varsity locker rooms are still there, tucked further underneath the stands. A new sauna sits on deck, but, really, not much has changed. Except the banners are gone. The canvases that painted the past successes of the program - which, sidenote, Tech should really have a set of their own hanging in McAuley - took what little active memory of the team remained with them when they were furled up and placed into storage. The NCAA top ten showings, the conference championships taken away as if they never even happened. In a lot of places, cuts like this mean the death and loss of a non-revenue sport. It means the school has no money. But that wasn’t really the case in Clemson. It’s extra bittersweet because, in turn, the Tigers added women’s golf, sure, but they finally got themselves a softball team. They sacrificed my second favorite sport to cover here for Tech for my third favorite. Despite a fresher pool than most other schools, and despite even having the resources to build a new one - which would clock in substantially less than what that football practice palace cost - Clemson said a newer pool was both necessary and not feasible and, in the present day, the administration hints periodically at taking even the one they have away from the student body in general and the club aquatics programs. I guess this is the danger of not seeing athletics as holistic. It’s the worry in not understanding why endowing the rest of the non-rev scholarships is such an important part of AI2020. It’s the shortcomings of not realizing college athletics is in the people, education, and values fields far more than money should matter. It is for reasons like that that I am thankful for Todd Stansbury and what he promotes at Georgia Tech. I wish Tech had varsity soccer, lacrosse, women’s golf, field hockey, hockey, beach volleyball, wrestling, gymnastics, or whatever your favorite sport we don’t have is. But adding things like that, without seeing the program as a whole, and what the value of athletics is to the modern American institution, would almost certainly require cuts to what we have, especially without seeing through the current effort to make GTAA the best, most efficient, well-funded organization it can be. So, yes, it is great to see Clemson softball finally coming down to Atlanta this weekend for their inaugural Tech series. And it’s great that Clemson is promoting and selling gear - even if it’s probably better than what we can buy for our team that’s existed for upwards of thirty four years - that matches what we have in sports like basketball and baseball. Georgia Tech softball has long needed a true rival, particularly in conference, and this is that. A rising tide lifts all ships. But it’s unfortunate that it comes at the expense of a program that competed for 94 years, coming into existence on the back of soldiers returning from Argonne.

I could, would, and want to say more, so feel free to ask, but, after 700 words, it’s time to get to the news.


No. 8 Golf

Not a great showing for the Jackets this week, as they slid out of the top five after finishing tenth at Southern Highlands earlier in the week. Though the last time out, they collected hardware, Tech wasn’t as sharp in the opening two rounds of the outing, putting them in an insurmountable hole. Bartley Forrester, redshirt freshman, was the best overall for Tech, finishing just 16th, a solid enough follow up to his breakthrough performance in Puerto Rico. Andy Ogletree also played notably well, with a 68 on his last showing.

This week: Tech takes their annual trip to the Valspar Collegiate Invitational, where they have seen much past success.

No. 8 Women’s Tennis

No. 8 Tech gets smacked by no. 1 North Carolina, 6-1
No. 8 Tech gets a singles sweep against Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 6-1

I’ll lead with the good news from Friday: Kenya Jones took a mighty impressive win from the no. 3-ranked player in the country 3-6, 6-3, 1-0. The rest, well, wasn’t so great. North Carolina got started with a win in doubles, though Tech led when play was suspended on court 1 over the no. 4 team in the country. North Carolina’s entire starting lineup is ranked in the top 90, with three of them in the top 10, and Victoria Flores, Gia Cohen, Nami Otsuka, Rosie Garcia Gross, and Nadia Gizdova wound up on the losing end of that daunting slate this weekend.

It was narratively the opposite story on Sunday, though, as Tech did again losing the doubles point, but the singles side of things looked much stronger. Tech’s doubles pairing of Jones and Flores is up to the sixth best spot in the country, and they did their part, but Tech’s only two court losses of the day came on two and three in the doubles phase. The Hokies didn’t really have much going on in singles - none are ranked, per the ITA, and all of their regulars are in the bottom three in the conference - and Jones, Flores, Otsuka, Garcia Gross, Gizdova, and Sophia Sassoli got things done efficiently, with just two going to a third set that was little more than a short tiebreaker. Cohen, apparently, got the day off.

This week: Tech gets Syracuse and Florida State on the road this week as they get a first half of spring break trip to the cold and warm in the same weekend.

Women’s Basketball

Tech (20 - 10) vanquishes Pittsburgh (5 - 26), 68-58
Tech (20 - 11) slips against no. 10 North Carolina State (26 - 4), 57-48

The Jackets were led into the ACC Tournament by their senior, Francesca Pan, with a gaudy 26 point display against the lowly Pittsburgh Panthers. She went just 1-5 from three point territory, Tech’s only make in ten attempts, but set the standard at the free throw line, as Tech again both drew fouls well and made good on their opportunities from the charity stripe. As for the actual timeline of the game, it was a close, back and forth affair in the first half, and Tech only led by five at the halftime break. It was fortunate that Tech was able to consistently apply pressure, since their opponents were the dregs of the ACC. A ten point led might be less impressive than cruising to victory earlier in the season, but that was all Tech needed to survive and advance.

The Jackets were back in action Friday in a quick turnaround. Their opponents, the NC State Wolfpack, have had a fine season this year, and a win over them would’ve been a vital piece for a Tech team looking to seal a trip to the NCAA tournament. The Jackets looked poised to do it, too, in the first half, running up a pretty sizable lead, as many as fourteen points, over the course of the first and second quarters, although the Wolfpack were able to turn a 21-7 deficit into a 23-23 tie at the midpoint. They kept pouring in points in the second half, but Tech was able to claw back into a tie game, before their opponents pulled away for good. Tech came up a little short, despite playing a good game on the glass, and playing to the high skill level of their opponents. It does, however, sting a bit to see what could’ve been, with how large that lead was.

This week: Tech awaits their fate.

Softball

Tech vs. Athens - POSTPONED (Weather)
Tech (10 - 10) blanks Boston College (8 - 11), 6-0
Tech (10 - 11) gets...blanked by Boston College (9 - 11), 6-0
Tech (11 - 11) gets the rubber match versus Boston College (9 - 12), 3-1

The Jackets came into the weekend a hair under a .500 record, and were able to at least get to that mark as the mediocre Boston College Eagles swooped back into Atlanta for three games. The last time their guests were at Mewborn was for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, but the two teams didn’t face off that weekend. In Tech’s quest to equalize after a slow start to the season, it was Boston College that was kind of the team Tech needed to see to take a confident first step into their conference schedule.

  • Blake Neleman does it again, as she threw seven innings of two hit, no run ball on Friday night to open the series. Tech’s pitching, in a general change of tone, especially when the talented freshman is on the mound, is one of its strong spots.
  • The bats were enough on Friday, as Emma Kauf and Crosby Huckabay each put one over the fence. It was, importantly, a very balanced look for the Jackets at the plate, who have been a little inconsistent at finding that necessary consistency.
  • The opposite was true on Saturday, as the Jackets were completely silent at the plate, yielding just three hits, two of which were to Breanna Roper. This is good, as she was one of their most consistent hitters last year, though her move down the lineup has seemingly given her a little more protection in the batting order.
  • Kauf played in the infield in the final game of the series, adding to her success behind the dish and in the outfield with a spell at third base. Tricia Awald and the freshman phenom got the Jackets on top early, while Huckabay was able to be the spark the rest of the lineup needed to put three runs on the board, thanks most critically to her huge triple.
  • Neleman got into a little trouble on Sunday, and yielded a run in four and a third. However, the damage wasn’t irreversable, Tech didn’t blow any leads, and, also good news, Madison McPherson was able to work out of the jam to the tune of a scoreless two and two thirds innings.

This week: Tech gets their first-ever series in versus a presumable future rival in the form of the inaugural Clemson Tigers.


In the Club House:

This Week’s Results:

Men’s Lacrosse - Men’s Lacrosse got a season defining win on Friday against #1 South Carolina at home under the Friday Night Lights, defeating the Gamecocks 15-5 in a game that was almost certainly iced by the end of the third quarter. Their recap uses the brilliant phrase South Carolina “would not go quietly into the dark night,” which is some excellent prose, but, the devil is in the details - Tech shut down an elite goal-scoring machine on Friday, and they were able to overcome early adversity to make a loud statement of a win.

Hockey - Tech Hockey was in the distant suburbs of Tampa this weekend for their regional tournament opener against Embry-Riddle. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much doing for the Jackets, who fell silent between the pipes, to the tune of a 5-0 shutout loss. This was the final game of the 2019-2020 season, so, well, that’s all until next year for the Yellow Jackets on Ice.

Swimming - Tech swimming headed up to longtime rival Clemson this weekend for the spring edition of the Clemson Invite. Conveniently for them, it looks like they also turned out well to see the men’s basketball team close out the year with a nice road win at Littlejohn Coliseum before their meet. Anyhow, they looked strong, with a few dozen event winners, second and third place finishers, and notable relays. Key swimmers like Jonathan Shaheen, Maxim Geller, Ally Nastasi, Ellie Ridgeway, Allie Riddell, Andrew Rohweder, and Carson Fregosi look primed for a great taper and the relays looked very strong. The final scores were 1st place for the men at 695, women at 742.5, and overall at 1437.5 over Clemson and eight other teams. They’ll next be in action next month at the CCS National Championships.

Last Week’s Results:

Sailing - Sailing headed to the Eckerd Intersectional in St. Petersburg, Florida, last week, where they placed in eighth out of eleven teams.

Women’s Lacrosse - It was a crosstown trip that was in the cards for women’s lacrosse over at Emory, where they played two local teams. The first game, against the school in Athens, wasn’t so pretty, a 21-3 loss, but the second game, against their hosts, was a solid 19-4 victory.

Equestrian - Equestrian headed up to Berry College in Rome, and, well, I don’t really know what any of these events mean, so I’ll leave them here to decipher. Results that are confusing are better than none at all, though.
Day 1:
Logan Hintz - 3rd, Limit Flat
Grace Saad - 1st, Open Flat, 2nd, Open Over Fences, High Point
Diana Sweeney - 4th, Intermediate Flat
Casey Barton - 6th, Limit Over Fences
Amanda Worden - 6th, Limit Over Fences
Day 2, Regionals:
Logan Hintz and Casey Barton - Novice Flat
Kinsey Kotscher - Limit Flat
Grace Saad - High Point, 1st, Open Flat, 2nd, Open Over Fences

Fencing - Fencing found themselves in beautiful Auburn with a Lake for the Tiger Open at Clemson before hosting this past weekend at Tech.

Cycling - Cycling took the trip to Raleigh and three of their guys showed out well, securing 1st place in the B Criterium, 3rd and 4th places in the B Road Race, and 7th place in the A Road Race

Women’s Rugby - The ladies took home two wins, against Kennesaw State and the school in Athens. The former, a shoutout, wound up 25-0, while the latter was not, as Tech beat the Athenians 29-24.

Gymnastics - Gymnastics went over to Decatur, where their women’s Level 8 team took 3rd place, their Men’s Developmental team took 2nd place, and standout individuals included Olivia Schailey, who placed 1st on vault and 3rd on beam, as well as Erick Phung, who took a 2nd on floor in his own right.

The Hot Corner:

I made it back into town for most of the final game of the VPISU series on Sunday, and there was one thing in particular I needed to check out, bar none. Sure, Jadyn Jackson looked like beast in his ground run double, and it was great to see Baron Radcliff barrel the ball with a double and a triple, but I made sure to take a trip to the two concessionaires inside the right hand side of the third base gate. When I asked them how business was, they replied, “BOOMING!” which I have to take as a good thing. The Sunday crowd for the ACC crowd looked more full than usual - a fact that almost certainly had more to do with the absolutely perfect baseball weather after seemingly interminable rain and notable conference opponent than alcohol - but it was extremely noticeable how many adults in the stands had a beer or a seltzer in their hands, especially considering anecdotally the amount of concessions don’t usually perk up my attention. The pricing, too, was pretty reasonable, all things considered. It’s not cheap, but not all that far off of Mercedes-Benz’ vaunted pricing scheme. The Jackets, of course, as we know, weren’t able to take the win in extras, but they certainly seem to have cracked a winning formula here with their new items available for purchase.


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For baseball coverage:

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This Week on the Flats:

BOLD for home, REGULAR for away, ITALIC for time and location

Monday:
Diving at NCAA Zone B Diving Championships
All day, Athens, GA

Tuesday:
Diving at NCAA Zone B Diving Championships
All day, Athens, GA

Baseball at Auburn
7:00 PM, Auburn, AL, SEC Network+ and WREK 91.1 FM

Wednesday:
Diving at NCAA Zone B Diving Championships
All day, Athens, GA

Softball at Mercer
6:00 PM, Macon, GA

Thursday: OFF

Friday:
Track and Field at NCAA Indoor National Championships
10:00 AM, Albuquerque, NM

Women’s Tennis at Syracuse
3:00 PM, Syracuse, NY

Men’s Tennis vs. Notre Dame
5:00 PM, Ken Byers Tennis Complex

Softball vs. Clemson
6:00 PM, Mewborn Field, ACC Network Extra and WREK 91.1 FM

Baseball at Florida State
6:00 PM, Tallahassee, FL, ACC Network Extra and WREK 91.1 FM

Saturday:
Track and Field at NCAA Indoor National Championships
10:00 AM, Albuquerque, NM

Softball vs. Clemson
2:00 PM, Mewborn Field, ACC Network Extra and WREK 91.1 FM

Baseball at Florida State
6:00 PM, Tallahassee, FL, ACC Network Extra and WREK 91.1 FM

Sunday:
Men’s Golf is at the Valspar Collegiate Invitational
TBA, Florida National Golf Club, Palm City, FL

Men’s Tennis at Louisville
12:00 PM, Louisville, KY

Softball vs. Clemson
1:00 PM, Mewborn Field, ACC Network Extra and WREK 91.1 FM

Women’s Tennis at Florida State
1:00 PM, Tallahassee, FL

Baseball at Florida State
1:00 PM, Tallahassee, FL, ACC Network Extra and WREK 91.1 FM