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Squad sweeps homestand

Pitchers earn five-game romp; team achieves strongest record in 19 years

Thirteen games into the season, the Virginia softball team is off to its best start since 1993.

In its first home stand of the season this weekend, Virginia (11-2, 0-0 ACC) won all five of its games at the round-robin style Cavalier Invitational. Though the team experienced some bumps along the way, many resulting from poor playing conditions, the Cavaliers put together five strong performances. The squad now holds the second-best record in the ACC.

"It was a pretty good weekend," junior pitcher Melanie Mitchell said. "We had a lot of energy. Personally it's not as good as I feel like I could have performed, but it's still very solid, getting your feet wet for the season."

The Cavaliers opened the weekend with a double-header against Ohio. In the first game Virginia trailed 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning when rain forced play to stop. Just before the delay, however, the Cavaliers loaded the bases, setting up a grand slam for junior catcher Kristen Hawkins just as play resumed. Hawkins' stellar play gave the team a lead it never lost.

"It's always hard coming out after a rain delay," senior outfielder Giannina Cipolloni said. "We really wanted to play because it was our first home game. Hawkins did a great job leading us off with the grand slam, and then we just kept the energy rolling, and it was great."

In the second game of the double-header, the Bobcats (6-6, 0-0 MAC) out-hit Virginia 14-4 and led 6-4 in the final inning. The Cavaliers, though, worked their way out of the deficit to win 7-6.

Giannina Cipolloni and senior shortstop Kennedy Byxbee both hit runners home in the seventh to spark Virginia's triumph. Senior pitcher Stephanie Coates earned the win after she came in for the bottom of the sixth and allowed no runs in two innings of work.

"It was definitely a clutch [win]," coach Eileen Schmidt said. "Even though we weren't playing up to our A-game, we