The Virginia softball team competed in the Purple and Gold Challenge this weekend in Baton Rouge, La., winning its first and last games but dropping three in between.
The Cavaliers (4-4, 0-0 ACC) opened Friday afternoon against the Memphis Tigers (2-8, 0-0 C-USA). Senior Melanie Mitchell threw a complete game shutout, leading the team to a 2-0 win. Sophomore third baseman Megan Harris tallied two hits and scored both runs for the team off RBIs from senior catcher Kristen Hawkins and freshman center fielder Shannon McGinley.
Later that evening, Virginia played the first of two games against host No. 10 Louisiana State. Despite leading 2-1 in the third inning, the Cavaliers fell 7-2 against the Tigers (10-1, 0-0 SEC), suffering their second loss of the season.
The team returned to action the next day with a game against North Dakota State (4-6, 0-0 Summit). Sophomore right fielder Heidi Velk scored the only Virginia run in the 5-1 loss when she stole home in the third inning.
In their fourth game of the tournament, the Cavaliers played a rematch against LSU but failed to avenge their earlier defeat. Mitchell pitched a complete game, striking out six and giving up two earned runs, but a pair of unearned runs and a lacking offense led to the team’s second loss of the day by a 4-0 margin.
The weekend came to a close for Virginia on a positive note Sunday afternoon against Nicholls State (4-4, 0-0 Southland). The Cavaliers prevailed 4-3 in eight innings, with McGinley knocking in Harris for the winning run on a one-out walk-off double to left-center field. After the Colonels scored three unearned runs in the first, Mitchell held them scoreless the rest of the way in her third complete game in as many days. With the performance, Mitchell moved into sole possession of No. 2 all-time in Virginia history for career complete games with 94, just eight away from tying Lisa Palmer’s record.
The Cavaliers will next travel to Palm Springs, Calif. for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Feb. 21-23.
—compiled by Peter Nance