Overall Record: 38-18 (.679) CAA Record: 13-7 (.650) Home: 15-8, Away: 13-8, Neutral: 10-2 CAA Tournament: No. 3 seed; W 7-4 vs. James Madison; L, 0-1 vs. Hofstra; W, 9-1 vs. James Madison; L, 1-9 vs. Hofstra Final RPI: 75th out of 289 (Top 25% of Division I teams) Final national team rankings: W/L Percentage (44th; .679), Team ERA (46th; 2.26), Fielding Percentage (61st; .967), Double Plays Per Game (61st; .340) Final national individual rankings: Kaitlyn Medlam (15th saves - 4; 85th ERA - 1.99)
ATLANTA — Georgia State softball’s second season under head coach Roger Kincaid continued the consistency of success established by his predecessors and extended that success with a number of landmark victories by the Panthers.
The 2012 season marked the seventh consecutive winning season by GSU, highlighted by the team’s seventh straight appearance in the CAA tournament. The winning percentage of .679 reached in 2012 now stands as the second best in school history behind only the 1993 season, where the team went 39-16 (.709).
On April 17, Georgia State softball beat No. 2 Alabama 5-1 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. That represented the highest ranked team GSU had beaten in any sport in school history. The Panthers scored five runs in the fifth inning to hand the Crimson Tide only their third loss of 2012. McCall Langford and Kaitlyn Medlam combined to limit a potent Alabama offense to only one run on four hits.
Georgia State got another win against a ranked opponent by beating No. 25 Georgia Tech in Panthersville on Feb. 29. The victory marked the first time the Panthers beat their in-state rival since 2008. Brenna Morrissey’s sixth inning home run proved to be the difference in the closely fought contest.
All told, the Panthers won games over the 2012 SEC champion (Alabama), ACC champion (Georgia Tech), SoCon champion (Georgia Southern) and OVC runner-up (Tennessee Tech). Six of GSU’s opponents earned trips to the NCAA Tournament, including Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech and Hofstra.
Morrissey only hit three more home runs on the season, but the former-walk-on made them all count as two resulted in walk-off wins for the Panthers. The first came with two outs in the seventh inning against Central Arkansas, while the next delivered a 3-2 win over CAA foe Drexel in the eighth inning.
GSU entered the season as defending CAA champions and tied with Hofstra for first in the preseason coaches’ poll. However, the Pride proved too much for the Panthers, winning all five games between the two teams and taking the conference title on their home field.
In the CAA tournament, the third-seeded Panthers earned two wins over No. 2 James Madison, but lost twice to host Hofstra who finished the season undefeated in CAA play. Georgia State has now finished as the CAA runner-up four times.
Paige Nowacki’s 10 home runs tied her for fourth highest in the record books, one of only six GSU players to hit double-digit homers in one season. With 20 home runs during her three-year career, Nowacki sits at No. 7 on the all-time list, just two behind Catharine Lee at No. 6.
Callie Alford registered 43 RBI, giving her the fifth highest total in school history and the second most for a freshman. In addition to RBI, Alford lead the team in doubles (13), total bases (80) and slugging (.494).
Nowacki and Alford were both named to NFCA All-Mid-Atlantic Region teams. Nowacki was the second ever Panther to pick up first team honors, while Alford was the third ever on the second team.
Alford, Lauren Coleman and Ashley Christy were a trio of freshmen to make a significant impact in their first year in a Panther uniform. All three were named to the CAA All-Rookie team and each played in over 40 games. Coleman was named to the All-CAA first team, while Alford and Christy earned second team honors.
Coleman led the team in batting average (.326) and on-base percentage (.436) and tied with Alford for the team lead in walks with 27 apiece. These three are part of a talent seven-member class of 2015, which bodes well for the future of the program.
Boese finished her career as one of the most decorated academic players in program history. The second baseman was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District first team for the second time. The accounting major will graduate from GSU with a 4.1 GPA after being named to the President’s List six semesters.
Thomas ended her GSU career sixth in wins (44), sixth in innings pitched (472.0) and tenth in ERA (2.37). Her conference honors included being named the CAA Rookie of the Year in 2009 and the 2011 conference tournament Most Outstanding Performer.
Georgia State was fairly unique among college softball teams in that the Panthers utilized a staff of pitchers rather than relying on a single ‘ace.’ Thomas, Langford and Medlam each logged at least 100 innings pitched and 10 wins in over 24 appearances.
All three pitchers picked up at least one CAA Pitcher of the Week honors, recorded over 50 strikeouts and registered a sub-2.40 ERA. Along with relievers Erin Collins and Emily Clay, this bevy of arms gave the Panthers stability, balance and depth in the circle over a long season.
Overall, 11 CAA weekly honors were awarded to Panthers over the season, a new single season high for the team. Those awards included five conference Players of the Week, four Pitchers of the Week and three Rookies of the Week.
From March 31 to April 7, GSU reeled off an eight-game winning streak, which is tied for the third longest in the record books. After that streak was broken in a 3-2 loss at Georgia Tech, the Panthers extended their CAA win-streak to 10 games, which included three straight sweeps over Towson, UNCW and Drexel.
The 2012 squad broke into several categories in the program record books, including walks (174, 2nd), double plays turned (19, 4th), fielding percentage (.967, 4th), home runs (38, 5th), shutouts (16, 5th), ERA (2.26, 6th), runs scored (232, 6th), slugging percentage (.387, 6th), batting average (.263, 7th), stolen bases (52, 9th), hits (390, 10th) and doubles (58, 10th).
GSU battled often with teams in the top 100 in the RPI including Alabama (2), Georgia (15), Georgia Tech (21), Auburn (31), Georgia Southern (48), Hofstra (49), Chattanooga (61), Kennesaw State (73) and Western Kentucky (79). The Panthers themselves ended 2012 at No. 75 in the RPI and climbed to as high as 61 during the course of the season.
Despite losing eight seniors to graduation, the team will still return 16 letterwinners for next year. The Panthers will look to capitalize on a combination of talent and experience to continue their winning ways well into the future.