ATLANTA, GEORGIA — Though it has been a busy few weeks here in Atlanta, Yellow Jacket Roundup returns to recap last week’s action on the Flats. There are plenty of things that have happened since we last looked in at the various sports that fill Tech’s fields, but we’ll focus on those that have happened in the last week. As I put this introduction together, I usually try to ruminate on some sort of thoughtful sports- or local-interest, but today, all that is running through my mind is this. Tech may not have any entries in either March Madness bracket this year, but I hope that you will find at least some joy in watching this year’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, which start this week.
Tech played four games this week, but the first one was certainly the most important on the week. Depending on who you ask, the midweek opponent’s national rank would likely vary, so we’ll go with FTRS’ in-house metrics. We only had Auburn sitting at 52, with Tech further down in the 90s, but most national polls had the Tigers in the top 25, which makes it an upset, and Tech’s first Quality Win™ of the year.
Coming into the game, Auburn’s Maddie Penta had a 0.00 ERA in 59 innings pitched and was striking out 20 batters for every one she walked. To that end, she struck out another 8 during the game, but also allowed five hits and her first run of the year. Shelby Lowe, who had a sub-2.00 ERA herself, came in in relief, though she ultimately yielded the game winning walk off home run to Reese Hunter in the bottom of the seventh. Blake Neleman got the start for Tech in the circle, pitching 6.2 innings of one-run softball, before Chandler Dennis cleaned up a jam in the top of the seventh to keep the game tied ahead of the walk-off.
Tech kept the momentum rolling in Charlottesville, taking home a series win in their first head-to-head with an ACC opponent. Virginia is a team on the rise this year, with their solid record coming against admittedly lesser competition in the non-conference slate, but certainly reflecting improved stature relative to past performance. Tech took home wins in Friday’s opener, as well as the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. Tech, much like baseball, had been scheduled to play a traditional weekend series, but preemptive scheduling moved the Sunday game to Saturday evening. Though both Saturday games were close, it was a scoreless performance from the offense that kept Tech from a sweep.
Both Tech wins were 5-2 margins, and pushed their win streak to six games before the late loss on Saturday. Tech now sits at 14-9 on the season and are trending in the right direction. That said, the next three weekend series see Tech squaring off with Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Florida State, who currently sit at 20, 3, and 11, respectively, in FTRS’ Universal Selection Index. Tech gets the former pair at home, while the latter is on the road in Tallahassee.
I’ll keep the tennis talk short this week, as Tech lost a pair of home contests to top-10 teams this weekend, falling 6-1 to no. 1 North Carolina and 4-3 at the hands of no. 9 Duke. In Friday’s match, Alejandra Cruz was Tech’s one winner, though that was particularly notable, seeing as it came against the Tar Heels’ Abbey Forbes, who is currently ranked no. 16 in the country, and was a straight set, 6-2, 6-3, victory.
In the second event of the weekend, Tech nearly managed an upset against Duke. The doubles point would ultimately prove the difference in the match, as Tech dropped two of the three courts, which was also followed by two singles losses. Tech got on the board with two singles victories in quick succession, first with no. 99 Mahak Jain upsetting Emma Jackson, currently ranked no. 24, in another straight set victory, 6-2, 6-2, while Kylie Bilchev also notched a straight set win over a ranked opponent. Another singles loss would decide the match for Duke, but Rosie Garcia Gross gutted out the finish in a three set marathon to make it a one point margin.
Swimming and Diving:
Tech diving headed up the road to Knoxville this past week for the Zone B Diving Championships. On the week, Tech was relatively successful, with three divers each qualifying for their respective NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. Starting the week, Tech veteran diver Ruben Lechuga punched his ticket on the men’s side in the 1 Meter, while he was later joined on Wednesday by freshman Elijah Klier thanks to his performance on the platforms. On the women’s side, Tech’s Anna Bradescu also qualified on the platforms, earning her third appearance at NCAAs.
The NCAA has also released the field for the swimming events, and Tech will send four swimmers to join the three divers at their respective meets. Deniz Ertan, a freshman, will join Bradescu in returning to Knoxville this week, and will be swimming the 1650 Freestyle, 500 Freestyle, and 400 Individual Medley at the meet. Ertan holds the school record in all three events, plus the 1000 freestyle, which is not contested in the postseason, and was the sole or co-ACC champion in both freestyle events, which she currently holds seed times which would place her in the A final, putting her within a reasonable shot to notch a national championship title in each event.
The men joining Klier and Lechuga in the pool are Batur Ünlü, Berke Saka, and Mert Kilavuz, and the five will travel to Minneapolis, which is a phenomenal pool to catch a meet at, should you happen to be in the area next week. Between the three, they will swim five events, with Kilavuz swimming the 1650 Freestyle, joined by Ünlü in the 200 and 500 Freestyle and Saka in the 100 and 200 Backstroke. Kilavuz enters the meet with the top time among the men, seeded in seventh coming into NCAAs.
Track and Field:
Shanty Papakosta and her high jump were Tech’s sole entry in the NCAA Indoor Track and Field National Championships, and the event was a relative success, all things considered. Papakosta’s 1.82 meters earned her a ninth place finish overall, good for second team All-American honors.
The Hot Corner:
Baseball took their first ACC series this weekend in a condensed 24 or so hours of play Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, hosting Notre Dame. Despite coming off of a College World Series appearance, they lost a number of key pieces, as well as their head man, who is now taking residence in Tallahassee. The Friday night game was thrilling, in which Tech won 7-4 thanks to an odd solo home run-balk with the classic bases loaded-infield single-wild pitch to take a lead they would not relinquish thanks to a save bu Terry Busse, surely exactly as we all predicted. With weather forecasted for the area on Sunday, Saturday’s contests were played as a doubleheader. On Saturday, the two teams each decided to clobber one other, Tech open with a 15-2 blow, clinching the series, before Notre Dame answered with a 17-4 win in the late game. Tech also won the midweek contest, a 10-5 win over Lipscomb.
In the Club House:
Despite an under-.500 record, the Jackets headed up to West Chester, Pennsylvania for their second straight entry into the CHF National Championships. In the first two games, Tech fell to Farmingdale 10-0 and Delaware 7-2 before bouncing back with a 6-3 win over Kutztown to close out the weekend.
#1 Tech met #4 Liberty at a neutral site in North Carolina this weekend for a major showdown in the world of club lacrosse. The Jackets never led in the game, trailing 9-4 at the half, and despite a strong push in the second half, they ultimately fell 12-9 to the Flames. Tech’s next game will take place at Kennesaw State.
Over the Airwaves:
Scions of the Southland episodes in February and March are basically scoreboard reading and results analysis. It is both a blessing and a curse to have so many sports in action. Check out the latest from the feed by clicking here.
3/14 — at Auburn [7:00 PM, SEC Network]
3/17 — at Louisville [6:00 PM, ACCNX]
3/18 — at Louisville [1:00 PM, ACCNX]
3/19 — at Louisville [1:00 PM, ACCNX]
3/14 — Georgia Southern [2:00 PM, ACC Network]
3/17 — Virginia Tech [6:00 PM, ACCNX]
3/18 — Virginia Tech [3:00 PM, ACCNX]
3/19 — Virginia Tech [1:00 PM, ACCNX]
3/19-3/21 — Linger Longer Invitational (Great Waters at Reynolds Lake Oconee, Greensboro, GA) [All Day]
Track and Field:
3/17-3/18 — Yellow Jacket Invite [All Day]
Swimming and Diving:
3/15-3/18 — Women’s NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships (Knoxville, TN) [All Day, ESPN+, Tape Delayed on ESPNU]
3/15 — at Clemson [5:00 PM]
3/19 — at Boston College [10:00 AM]