No. 13 Virginia Tech Softball Travels to Atlanta to Face Georgia Tech

Lyndsey Grein and Virginia Tech are back on the road in the ACC at Georgia Tech. (Jon Fleming)

No. 13 Virginia Tech (19-5, 5-1 ACC) travels to Atlanta on Friday to face Georgia Tech (15-9, 2-1). The Hokies and Yellow Jackets both won two out of three conference games on the road last weekend – VT at North Carolina, GT at Virginia.

The teams last met in 2021 when the Hokies won three out of four games in Blacksburg (4-3, 10-4 and 12-0). Georgia Tech took the first game of the weekend, 6-4.

Virginia Tech leads the all-time series by one, 28-27. Last season, the Yellow Jackets qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time in a decade. They were picked to finish sixth in the conference in 2023 by the ACC coaches in the preseason poll. To date, their best win of the season was a 2-1 victory over No. 18 Auburn on March 8.

“We’ve always had good games against Georgia Tech,” Hokies head coach Pete D’Amour told Tech Sideline. “They had a really good year last year and are playing well now.”

The weekend schedule is below. All games are scheduled to be shown on ACC Network Extra.

Friday, March 17: 6 p.m. ET
Saturday, March 18: 3 p.m. ET
Sunday, March 19: 1 p.m. ET

Georgia Tech is led by senior Emma Kauf (.379 average), one of the best catchers in the country. Kauf, who has played 146 games in her GT career, is a two-time All-ACC selection. She was ranked as the No. 8 catcher in the nation by D1 Softball and No. 10 catcher by Extra Innings Softball.

On top of that, she led the ACC in hits last season (71) and was second in D-I in doubles with 25. Kauf will typically bat leadoff and will occasionally play the outfield. She has a career batting average of .345 (162-470) and is six-for-six in stolen bases this season.

“Kauf is a good hitter and has been since she’s gotten to school,” D’Amour said. “She’s definitely a kid in the lineup that we circle on the scouting report.”

Sophomore infielder Grace Connelly (.329), who started 30 games for the Jackets last season, frequents the second position in the lineup. Junior first baseman Abby Hughes (.359) and sophomore outfielder Madison Dobbins (.344) are the only other Yellow Jackets regulars hitting over .270. They usually hit in the fifth and sixth spots.

Georgia Tech has 36 stolen bases in 44 attempts. However, its two leading base stealers, Jin Sileo (7-of-9) and Auburn Dupree (7-of-9), are.264 and .222 on the year, respectively.

In the circle, the Yellow Jackets are led by one of the most experienced pitchers in the conference, senior Blake Neleman. She has started 68 games in her career and is 40-22 with an ERA of 2.83. Neleman needs nine more strikeouts for her 500th.

She ranked second ACC last season in innings pitched (184) and strikeouts (220) behind VT’s Keely Rochard. In 2019 vs. Virginia Tech, she threw 14.2 innings and gave up 15 hits and 12 runs, 10 of them earned.

The second GT starter will likely be senior Chandler Dennis, who transferred to the Yellow Jackets last season from Michigan. Dennis (9-3, 2.87 ERA) has started 10 games for the Yellow Jackets in 2023 after starting 22 last year. She threw a one-hit shutout vs St. Francis (Pa.) on Feb. 12.

There is a strong likelihood that whichever GT pitcher starts will not finish the game. The Yellow Jackets only have four complete games this season. However, they’re second in the ACC in saves with six. Neleman and Dennis have three; sophomores Sophia Voyles (2-2, 2.42 ERA, 1 save) and Kinsey Norton (0-1, 3.43 ERA, 2 saves) have the others.

The Virginia Tech bats were as cool as the Chapel Hill weather last week, scoring only seven runs in the three-game series and hitting .207 as a team. However, the Hokies still lead the country in home runs (48) and home runs per game (2.00).

(Chip Grubb)

Sophomore Emma Lemley (12-1, 1.58 ERA) won her third consecutive ACC Pitcher of the Week award on Monday (sixth in her career). In her past 39 innings, Lemley has allowed just 20 hits and four runs (three earned) while striking out 65 batters. She leads the ACC in strikeouts and is second in the country with 125 Ks in 80 innings.

Freshman Lyndsay Grein (5-2, 3.74 ERA) continues to grow and gain experience in the number two role. She has 50 strikeouts in 54 innings.

“I hate to be repetitive,” D’Amour said, “but our gameplan won’t change based on who we’re playing. Clean defense, pitchers working ahead and getting back to having good at-bats. We looked good this week at practice and are well rested. We’re looking forward to getting on the field again.” 

Here’s the tale of the tape:

3 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Has anyone heard any talk of shifting the start time to avoid overlap with the women’s basketball game? Very unfortunate for those of us in Atlanta wanting to see them and likely a huge distraction for them.

  2. Chip, you do such a great job of covering VT softball. Sure wish I lived closer to Blacksburg; I’d be in the stands most every game. Thanks for keeping us up to date.

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