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May 12, 2012
CHAPEL HILL N.C. (theACC.com) - Powered by a seven-run fourth inning and another strong pitching performance from Hope Rush, the third-seeded Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defeated No. 4 Virginia Tech, 9-1, in the title game of the 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference Softball Championship Saturday at Anderson Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Rush (25-12), a junior from Stockbridge, Ga., was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player for her performance. She won all three games in the circle and held opponents to four earned runs and nine hits in 18.0 innings pitched. At the plate, Rush was 5-for-9 with one home run, three RBIs, and scored two runs.
"At the beginning of the year we said the ACC championship is one of our goals," said Rush. "Our overall goal is to get to the World Series and this is one of our goals along the way."
The championship is Georgia Tech's fifth overall and the third in the last four years.
"I'm super proud of them," said Yellow Jackets head coach Sharon Perkins. "I'm very comfortable with where we are. I think we're peaking at the right time, and that was one of our goals."
With the victory, Georgia Tech improves to 36-21 on the season and earns the league's automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Division I Softball Championship.
The Yellow Jackets were making their eighth appearance in the championship game. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech have now met in the title game three times, with the Yellow Jackets holding a 2-1 advantage.
Virginia Tech falls to 40-19 and will wait to find out their postseason fate when the tournament field is announced on Sunday night at 10 p.m. on ESPNU.
Jasmin Harrell suffered the loss for the Hokies, moving to 29-14 on the season. She surrendered six runs in 4.2 innings pitched in the championship game and finished the tournament with a 2-1 mark.
Seven different Yellow Jackets scored at least one run in the win, and five players had two hits. Kelsi Weseman led all batters with three RBIs.
Georgia Tech threatened to grab the lead early, loading the bases with no outs in the first inning. Harrell induced a flyout, struck out a batter, and ended the threat with a groundout to the shortstop Bkaye Smith.
Weseman, the ACC Player of the Year, hit her conference-leading 13th home run of the season in the third inning to give Georgia Tech the 1-0 lead.
After failing to score off of Hope Rush in 14 innings during the regular season and the first three in the ACC Championship, the Virginia Tech offense tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth inning with two doubles from Lauren Gaskill and Courtney Liddle.
Georgia Tech put the game out of the reach with seven runs in the fourth inning. The Jackets sent 12 batters to the plate and tallied seven hits in the offensive outburst.
"It was great having a bunch of runs in the fourth inning," said Rush. "You just become comfortable. It was awesome."
Kate Kuzma, who was named to the All-Tournament Team, singled in Ashley Thomas in the bottom of the sixth inning to clinch the ACC title for the Jackets.
|2012 ACC All-Tournament Team|
|Hope Rush (Most Valuable Player)||Georgia Tech|
|Chelsie Thomas||Georgia Tech|
|Kate Kuzma||Georgia Tech|
|Jasmin Harrell||Virginia Tech|
|Kelsey Mericka||Virginia Tech|
|Kylie McGoldrick||Virginia Tech|
|Lauren Gaskill||Virginia Tech|
|Haleigh Dickey||North Carolina|
|Kelli Wheeler||North Carolina|
|Maddie O'Brien||Florida State|