With one swing of the bat, the Cav softball team took the wind out of the Pirates' sails and swept both games of a doubleheader yesterday against East Carolina at The Park.
After being down 5-0 after two innings, the Cavaliers (24-34, 3-3 ACC) took matters into their own hands. Senior third baseman Karen Breshears provided the pop that shifted the momentum for Virginia with a third-inning grand slam.
Left fielder Kelly McCabe started off the inning with a single to centerfield. After a double by right fielder Meaghan Young, senior Amy Peay knocked a single to right to score McCabe. East Carolina pitcher Denise Reagan proceeded to load the bases by walking first baseman Kristen Dennis. Breshears then crushed a ball over the left-center field fence to tie the score at five.
"Karen has been swinging the bat really well lately," Virginia coach Cheryl Sprangel said. "That was perfect timing right there to get us back in the game."
Virginia's Johanna Kaiser scored the winning run in the fourth on a sacrifice bunt by Peay for a 6-5 win.
East Carolina (49-13) could not get anything going after Breshears' devastating home run and dazzling pitching by senior Chrissy Quinn.
Quinn (10-11), who came on in relief of Stacey Zagol in the second, gave up only three hits and struck out 11 batters in the first game. She then went on to pitch a complete game in the second half of the doubleheader, striking out nine more.
"The defense was solid and my catchers both called great games today," Quinn said. "When you're on the same page as your catcher, you can have games like today, where you feel like you're totally in control."
Quinn received all her run support for the second game in the first inning. Young scored on a double by freshman Ruby Rojas. Breshears then narrowly missed another home run, hitting a double to the leftfield fence to score Rojas. Breshears later would score on a wild pitch by Pirate pitcher Hillary Halpern to take a 3-0 lead.
Shortstop Eva Herron tried her best to keep East Carolina in the game, singling in a run in the third and doubling in Amekea McDougald in the fifth to bring the Pirates within one. But Quinn went on to strike out five of the next nine batters to secure the 3-2 win.
"I think Quinn threw an exceptional game in both the games she came in," Pirates coach Tracey Kee said. "We couldn't make adjustments at the plate against her."
The Cavaliers next face Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament Saturday at 1 p.m. in Tallahassee. For the third consecutive year, Virginia is the fourth seed, while the Yellow Jackets are seeded fifth.
"Right now I feel like we're playing the best ball we've played all year," Sprangel said. "To come back like we did from a five-run deficit, that gives you a lot of confidence as a team going into the tournament"