After being swept by No. 25 North Carolina in a three-game series this past weekend, Virginia is hoping to rebound Wednesday when Delaware State visits for an out-of-conference doubleheader.
The Cavaliers (16-19, 3-9 ACC) lost 5-1 to open the series in Chapel Hill, followed by a pair of 2-1 games. The team entered the weekend coming off a midweek doubleheader sweep of George Mason and an ACC-series win against Boston College the weekend before, but could not sustain its momentum. The Cavaliers were without starting senior second baseman Lauren Didlake and starting junior designated player Karli Johnson, making the series an uphill battle from the start.
Senior Melanie Mitchell, sophomores Peyton Larus and Megan Harris and freshman Taylor Sarcone each shared responsibility for filling in the vacant infield and designated player spots for Didlake and Johnson throughout the series. Harris contributed an RBI in the opening game to give Virginia a first-inning lead. Freshman pitcher Aimee Chapdelaine stepped in to play first base.
“We had some people really step up and do some great things,” Virginia coach Eileen Schmidt said. “Taylor Sarcone filled in really well at second for us. Aimee Chapdelaine played a really great first base, did a good job. [She] hasn’t played a normal position probably in a little while, but she was pretty good.”
Delaware State (10-21, 4-2 MEAC) enters Wednesday riding a five-game win streak. The Hornets won both games in a doubleheader at Lafayette and then swept a three-game home series against Morgan State. The stretch marks only the second time this season the Hornets have won consecutive games.
“[The Hornets] always run well,” Schmidt said. “They usually have the speed game. If they connect it usually goes a long way, so what you’re trying to do is make sure you … don’t let them get any momentum.”
The Cavaliers may find themselves short-handed again for this doubleheader. In the third game of the North Carolina series, senior catcher Kristen Hawkins was hit by a foul ball and is currently listed as day-to-day. Earlier in the game, Hawkins scored the team’s only run off a home run.
“Once again we’ll be in different positions than we’re used to,” Chapdelaine said. “But we’re a team full of athletes and … I trust everyone at any position, and I know we all trust each other.”
Despite being swept by North Carolina, Virginia walked away feeling comfortable with its short-handed performance against a ranked opponent on the road. Despite the team’s obstacles, Chapdelaine was able to hold the Tar Heels to one earned run in 6.2 innings
during the second game.
“[Chapdelaine] threw fantastic,” Schmidt said. “She got herself into some jams and did a really good job of getting herself out of jams with ground balls and easy popups. It’s great to see in a first-year really coming around.”
“We definitely fought hard down at UNC this weekend,” senior shortstop Alex Skinkis said. “They were close games, we looked good, just sometimes they don’t go your way.”
The Cavaliers are no strangers to close games. Ten of their games have been decided by one run this season and after the last two losses, the team is now 3-7 in one-run games.
“We competed really hard, we just didn’t get the timely hit we needed to get that one run in to tie those games,” Schmidt said. “But it felt like we were in a really good position to get all three of those games, to win any single one of them. We didn’t quite get the execution we wanted, but it wasn’t from lack of effort.”
To turn their effort into victories, the team will need increased production out of its offense. The Cavaliers can use the match against the Hornets to embolden its performance ahead of a trip to Tallahassee to take on ACC-leader Florida State scheduled for Sunday and Monday.
“We’re going to change our luck, get a little bit more momentum this week,” Skinkis said. “If we play as well as we did against UNC, we’ll be okay. I think we’ll be in a good position for Delaware State on Wednesday.”