ATLANTA, GEORGIA — There’s a certain chill in the air this week, but that didn’t stop men’s tennis or softball from braving it for several matches and games outside. For most of the week, it looked like we were getting the true winter it seems like we’ve been putting off most of the year so far, and, frankly, I’m not all that sad about it. I like the variety. Lacking a suitable “big picture” intro this week, I’ll hamfistedly march straight on to talking about the variety we saw this week in sports, because there was quite a bit of it. Whether it was frustrating, heartbreaking basketball, or just “playing a better team and not being able to match them” basketball, we got all the emotions on the hardwood. On the court, the women’s tennis team saw some of that latter feeling, too. On the diamond, though? Things were great, and we’ll talk about what that could mean for the rest of the season as their page turns to ACC play coming up this week. All that and more in this week’s edition of Yellow Jacket Roundup.
Last Week on the Flats
Overall: 11-5 / Last Week: 0-1
Polls - AP: RV / Coaches: RV
Nerd Stuff - NET: #25 / RPI: #16
There’s only one game to talk about this week, but, man, was it a big one. The Jackets headed up to the Yum! Center in Louisville to take on quite a formidable opponent this week in the form of the Louisville Cardinals. Long a thorn in the Jackets’ side, Tech wasn’t really as outmatched this week as they’ve been at times against top teams, but it was still a tall order to go into the fullest home atmosphere this year on the road and try to find a way to win. Suffice it to say, they didn’t. Not that it wasn’t close at times, though. Tech trailed by single digits essentially the whole first half, but it is hard to play catch-up against a team that is just purely better. Once Tech was in a decent hole, there wasn’t much opportunity to come back, though the lead did close back into the single digits for a while in the fourth. In the end, though they certainly gave a good effort, the Cardinals were just too much. The final margin was 85-70 in favor of the home team.
Overall: 5-0 / Last Week: 5-0
Polls - NFCA Coaches: NR / D1 Softball: NR / ESPN USAS: NR / SA: NR
Nerd Stuff - RPI: N/A
I’m writing this blurb last, since I both saw the most of them this week, and they also played the most games, so I could probably write 2,000 words if time wasn’t an issue. Anyways, let’s get down to brass tacks.
Tech hosted the Buzz Classic this weekend, where Radford and Boise State came to play State and Tech. Tech started the weekend with a doubleheader against Boise State, with Blake Neleman in the circle for game one of both doubleheaders and the Sunday tilt. She would throw three complete games on the weekend, giving up a total of 1 run, which came at the very end of the first game on a solo home run. Her weekend (and season) ERA sits at just 0.41. Madison McPherson and Lexi Ray got the other two starts, with McPherson having the shakier of the two, giving up two runs in three innings, before Morgan Bruce followed with three innings of scoreless relief. Ray and Bruce are yet to allow a run on the year, and the team’s ERA is just 0.50.
Of course, this comes spread across just 28 innings in five games, as the offense was busy holding up their end of the bargain, too. The team hit .421, with second year freshman Emma Kauf at the top of the list with a .692 average. She has an OPS north of 2.000 and ripped two home runs and four doubles - notably having twice as many extra base hits as singles. The revelation of the weekend has to be Kennedy Cowden, who, as a transfer from Kentucky didn’t see a top of playing time last year and was mostly a pinch runner for the Wildcats, but hit her first career home run this weekend, as well as her second and third, too. Her home runs all came with at least two runners on, so she was responsible for hoarding lots of the RBIs. Tech was also rather aggressive on the basepaths, particularly with Jin Sileo. In one sequence in Sunday’s game, she was able to steal second, third, and home in quick succession. Tech was not afraid to stretch singles into doubles and take care of business to put the games out of reach early. All but the first game, in which Tech was quiet at the plate until the sixth inning, ended due to run rule in the fifth or sixth innings.
All of this is to say, Tech had an excellent weekend. With few non-conference games on the schedule this year, it was vital to take expected wins against non-ACC opponents, and to hit the ground running. Akshay and I hedged a bit over at Scions last week, saying that 4-1 or 5-0 would be considered a success. Well, consider the bar raised. Four run rule wins in five tries just bumped it up about three notches. Tech might be building something nicely here. Keep your eye out for action on the Mewborn diamond.
Tech next plays Florida State on Thursday (DH) and Friday, and Clemson on Saturday and Sunday (DH). The Florida State games are all on ACC Network, starting at 11AM both days.
Swimming and Diving
Polls - CSCAA Coaches M: #22 / W: NR, SwimSwam M: #16 / W: NR
Nerd Stuff - CAP M: #15 / W: #38
I love talking about this team, but, frankly, there wasn’t much to see here. While the usual Georgia Tech Invitational is a fantastic stacked lineup around Thanksgiving time, this looked more akin to the Yellow Jacket Invite from last spring. The only guests Tech played host to this week was Emmanuel College, a Division II school, and most of Tech’s biggest names didn’t swim all their events. Thus, the meet was more of a last chance meet for the swimmers who may not go to ACCs in the next two weeks. The best result of the meet was probably Brooke Switzer’s B cut for NCAAs in the 100 Freestyle. Other than that, hopefully there will be more fortuitous news from the diving and women’s swimming half of ACCs coming up this week.
Overall: 7-4 / Last Week: 0-2
Polls - ITA/Oracle Coaches: #9
It was certainly a tough week for the lady racquet Jackets. After a 1-2 showing against three of the top teams in the country last week, they came back to Atlanta only to...keep playing top-ranked teams. The absence of Ava Hrastar was still felt this week, as well as not seeing much of Mahak Jain, either. As expected, Tech is at its best when it has a full lineup, so that they struggled with Vanderbilt and the school in Athens was rather unsurprising. I didn’t see much of the Athens match, other than the final score, so I can’t comment too much about the ebbs and flows of gameplay, but I did catch some of the Vanderbilt match, and it is worth noting that Tech had rallied strong late in that match. Though they were edged out in doubles - they won one of three there - and quickly spotted Vanderbilt a 3-0 lead by falling in two sets on two courts, including an unfortunate 6-2, 6-1 affair on court five. However, the other four courts all went to a third set, where Tech was able to win back two points. In the end, though, Carol Lee fell before Vicky Flores could tie the match on court two, thus ending it at 4-2.
Overall: 5-2 / Last Week: 2-0
Polls - ITA/Oracle Coaches: NR
The men continued to clean up their local foes this weekend, as they faced Georgia State and the Citadel. Tech swept both teams 7-0, though the Georgia State match in particular looked a little precarious in the beginning. As noted in this space before, that match is always Georgia State’s Super Bowl, so, like last year, they were incredibly motivated. However, Tech stuck it out, won the doubles, and didn’t look back at all on the singles. Later, on Sunday, they hosted the Citadel and started things off right again in winning the doubles point. The performances of the match came on courts 1 and 2, where Marcus McDaniel and Andres Martin made light work of their opponents, as McDaniel won 6-1, 6-0 and Martin cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 decision. Easy money. Tech starts conference play this week, and will be back in action in Miami and Tallahassee this weekend.
Track and Field
Nerd Stuff: USTFCCCA Index M: NR / W: #26
Tech split their team this weekend, as they tend to do in the spring, to head to Nashville and Clemson. The distance team went to the former, where both Nicole Fegans and Andrew Kent again turned in banner weeks - Fegans broke her own school indoor mile record and Kent now slots into the top 10 nationally with his 5k time, which broke the facility record and narrowly missed topping the Tech mark. In the Clemson field and sprint squad, Olivia Moore led the way with an excellent showing in the pole vault.
Tech is next up at the ACC Indoor Championships in Clemson. The ladies have a very long shot at a title, but things would need to really break their way to get close. We will have to wait and see how it shakes out.
Best of the Week
This Week on the Flats
Obviously, the baseball season opener is a huge return to the schedule and I would recommend checking that out, but you have three opportunities to catch softball on ACCN against one of the best teams in the country midday Thursday and Friday. Other than that, WBB against Florida State is probably your best bet.
Poll of the Week
Favorite angle at a sporting event?
This poll is closed
Front row seats (behind the plate, down the foul line/center court/50 yard line)
Up a bit, still lower bowl
First row of the upper deck
Further back upper deck
Way the heck out there (bleachers, upper north at BDS, behind the baseline in basketball)
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