ATLANTA, GEORGIA — I would bike 18 miles, and I would bike 18 more, just to be the man who biked a bunch of miles to fall down at the gates of Mewborn Field. This makes the second time I’ve been passing through campus realizing that I had timed the start of a softball game well enough to stick around and watch live, rather than crashing on the couch in the apartment.
It wound up being a terrific decision, since this is probably the fullest and most lively atmosphere I’ve had the privilege of catching live this year. Akshay and I have made a habit of drawing parallels between the development of volleyball, women’s basketball, and softball, but the large crowds the year are perhaps the most obvious fan-facing side effect of the team having its most success in the better part of a decade.
Yours truly also finally made it to a men’s tennis match this season, which shows not only how hectic of a spring it has been, but also a bummer since the matches are rather lively and also nearly done for the year. In related Atlanta news, the impending poor weather did not quite materialize over the holiday weekend, making Saturday in particular a nice day to be out and about on the Flats, or the city at large, before the summer heat gets dialed up.
Overall: 31-12 | Last Week: 4-0
Alabama-Birmingham - [W] 5-3 (8): Tech’s Blake Neleman started the game in the circle, as she often does, and put together more than six solid innings of three run softball for Tech. Two of those runs came in the first inning, as the hosts were able to vault out to a two run lead. As the game got late, though, the Jackets were finally able to start stringing productive plate appearances together, with the pivotal second and third runs coming off an Emma Kauf double when Tech was down to its last out. That third UAB run came in the bottom of the seventh, but that was where they were halted by Tech, who was able to push two runs across in the top of the eighth when Bailee Zeitler rocketed around the bases for an in the park home run with Caroline Davis on first. That, in the end, was all they wrote for the midweek.
NC State - [W] 3-0: Tech once again split time in the circle between Neleman and Chandler Dennis, the latter of whom got the start in Friday’s first game. At the plate, Auburn Dupree was a perfect 3 for 3, while Kauf went 2 for 2 with a double and a triple as Tech spread three runs across a pair of innings. The pitching staff put up a valiant effort keeping the Wolfpack offense off the board, and it was a quick win for the Jackets in game one of the doubleheader.
NC State - [W] 9-1 (6): In Friday’s second game, Tech had their best performance of the weekend at the plate. Kauf continued her hot streak, going 3 for 3 and capping a perfect day on the offensive side of the ball. Oddly enough for a game that ended in a run rule, NC State struck first with an early run. On the day, Neleman wound up yielding just that lone run on two hits, as Tech steadily added runs until a walkoff run rule decision in the sixth inning came on a Bailey Chapin pinch hit.
NC State - [W] 5-1: This was a solid game to watch, from a fan perspective. Solid run scoring options, good defense and pitching, and a steadily building lead made for a boisterous afternoon at the ballpark. Tech got on the board first with an impressive showing of bold base running since Dupree had loaded the bases after a textbook bunt planted itself a few inches in front of the place. The following force out at the plate turned into an error, allowing the first run to score with the ball at the backstop. Tech tacked on two more on another Kauf double following one from Mallorie Black. NC State got one back after Dupree just missed what would have been a web gem of a catch, with the runner narrowly beating the throw into a second. Tech would add two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, before Dennis polished off the Wolfpack quietly in the top of the seventh. The ball that Dupree valiantly went for at the wall would be the only hit surrendered by Dennis on the day.
Tech gave up two runs on the weekend and, as one could probably notice over the past few weeks, is playing their most impressive softball in years this season. This team deserves to be ranked, and is doing great work putting together a heck of a resume heading into the last two weeks of the regular season.
Overall: 8-13 | Last Week: 0-2
Rankings - ITA: 58
It was a tough weekend for the Jackets, who lost another 4-3 heartbreaker to Miami on Thursday before following that up with another tough four point loss against Florida State to close out the regular season. Tech’s first match against the #30 Hurricanes would ultimately turn on their doubles point loss, despite a hard fight in singles play. Tech’s Marcus McDaniel would quickly win on the second court, with Keshav Chopra and Chen Dong also coming up winners on the day. In the second match of the weekend, things started similarly, with Tech falling in doubles and immediately following that with a McDaniel win. However, despite 5 set one wins in singles, Tech would come up short on all other courts, ending their regular season.
Overall: 13-9 | Last Week: 1-1
Rankings - ITA: 31
Tech hosted the Virginia schools this weekend for what was their final home stand of the season, as well. In the first match, Tech took care of business early and often against the Hokies, ultimately going on to win the match in decisive 7-0 fashion. The more interesting matchup of the weekend was the #8 Cavaliers rolling into town for Senior Day on Sunday. Though Tech would ultimately fall to another well-regarded ACC foe, the Jackets did get a win on the third court in doubles (Gia Cohen and Ruth Marsh), as well as two singles point wins from Ava Hrastar and Mahak Jain on courts three and four on the way to a 5-2 loss.
Track and Field
Tech headed west this weekend for the Auburn War Eagle Invitational. They were there for two days, and the second day on Saturday definitely led the way in terms of top finishes. A number of athletes finished on the podium if only counting attached entries - a weird quirk of collegiate track and field. However, among all athletes, Tech’s Olivia Moore and John Watkins finished in third in the pole vault and triple jump, respectively, while Shanty Papakosta and Carla du Plessis went for second and third in the high jump. Tech’s event winners on the weekend came in a 1500 meter sweep from Mary Kathryn Knott and Charlie Smith, while Taylor Grimes won the 100 hurdles.
In the Club House:
Georgia Tech Men’s and Women’s Volleyball headed to Phoenix for the NCVF Nationals tournament. The men tied for 21st, while the women tied for fifth in their competition level. The results for both teams can be seen below:
Pool Play: 3-0
W: Nevada - 17-25, 25-23, 15-13
W: Kentucky - 14-25, 25-18, 15-10
W: Rochester Institute of Technology - 25-19, 19-25, 19-17
Championship Pool: 0-2
L: Kansas - 23-25, 25-19, 15-12
L: West Virginia - 19-25, 25-23, 15-12
Consolation Draw: 1-1
W: Western Michigan - 26-24, 25-16
L: George Washington - 22-25, 25-22, 15-11
Pool Play: 3-0
W: Cornell - 20-25, 25-17, 15-8
W: N Colorado - 26-24, 25-13
W: Texas B - 25-14, 25-15
Championship Pool: 1-1
L: N Colorado - 16-25, 25-20, 18-16
W: Ohio U - 25-20, 25-23
Championship Draw: 0-1
L: James Madison - 25-22, 29-27
Meanwhile, across the country, Georgia Tech Club Tennis finished 21st in their nationals, as well.
4/20: at Georgia State
4/21-24: ACC Championships (Rome, GA)
4/21-24: ACC Championships (Rome, GA)
4/22-25: ACC Championships (Shark’s Tooth - Panama City Beach, FL)
Track and Field:
4/22-23: GT Invitational (Atlanta, GA)