Tech faces tall task in NCAA softball regional

Georgia Tech's softball team received an unintended and undesired benefit from being the host team of last week's ACC tournament and losing in the opening round.

Yellow Jackets players ended up attending the remaining games and watched Florida State celebrate winning the championship on their diamond.

"I think it was good for them to see the energy of the other teams," Tech coach Sharon Perkins said.

While the Jackets won their third consecutive regular-season ACC title and will open their 10th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance Friday in the Knoxville regional, Perkins said her team can be pretty quiet. It was evidently a takeaway from the Jackets' 6-0 loss to No. 8 seed Virginia in the quarterfinal last Friday. It was the first time in the six years that the ACC has fielded eight softball teams that a No. 8 beat a No. 1.

"I think we need to fight more," Perkins said. "We need to be all about it."

The Jackets, 44-10 and ranked 18th in the country, are nonetheless a formidable bunch. They placed seven players on the All-ACC first or second teams. Perkins was named coach of the year for the third year in a row. Shortstop Kelsi Weseman won player of the year honors. Tech is 11th in the country in batting average and first in slugging percentage.

But they'll need to be all about it in order to knock out No. 14 seed Tennessee and advance to their second super regional in school history. The Volunteers, ranked seventh in the country with a 47-10 record, beat Georgia for the SEC title and have offensive numbers to rival Tech's. They've been in the Women's College World Series four times in the past six years.

Oklahoma State (37-17), whom Tech opens with Friday, and Liberty (30-28) round out the pool.

"I'm excited to be in the tournament," Perkins said. "I think we all are. Hopefully, we used this past weekend as a learning tool and just go out and play hard."