The season-long struggles of Virginia softball continued Thursday evening with a two-game series against George Mason. The Cavalier bats managed to produce runs, but ineffective pitching and shaky defense created insurmountable deficits.
The Patriots (10-13, 0-2 A-10) rode to a 17-6 victory in the first game of the doubleheader on the back of junior third baseman Brooke Blankenship. Blankenship drove in five runs, including a three-run shot in the seventh inning.
Big innings torpedoed any hope for a Virginia (4-24, 1-10 ACC) victory. In the top of the third, George Mason exploded for nine runs on seven hits. Chapdelaine’s night ended after recording a single out in the third. She was charged with all nine runs in the inning, although only five were earned.
Errors persistently hindered the Cavaliers Thursday. Between the two games, the team committed eight errors, leading to seven unearned runs.
“We weren’t sharp at all in the field” coach Blake Miller said. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot, and you’re not going to win many games when you do that.”
Virginia countered with a five-run fourth. Consecutive errors to start the inning and a passed ball placed freshman infielder Lindsay Mayer and freshman catcher Katie Park in scoring position with no outs. Following two harmless infield popups, sophomore outfielder Taylor Sarcone walked to load the bases for junior first baseman Megan Harris. Harris responded with a two-run single.
Senior second baseman Marcy Bowdren followed Harris with a three-run jack to right-centerfield. Bowdren said she has been working hard in the past week to fine-tune her swing.
“I’ve been working on my consistency at the plate” Bowdren said. “Seeing the ball leave the park made me proud for all of my hard work.”
However, Harris and Bowdren’s contributions were for naught as the Patriots scored eight runs in the final frame to sink the dagger. The Cavaliers went down in order to close out the first game.
Game two would result in more of the same frustration for Virginia. Chapdelaine left the game after facing only four batters and recording zero outs. She allowed four earned runs, including a three-run home run by Blankenship.
Bowdren relieved Chapdelaine and would finish the game in the circle allowing 11 runs — eight earned — on seven hits and ten walks.
“I try to have fun with it since I’m not really a pitcher” Bowdren said. “I haven’t pitched since mid-February, so I try to keep it simple and throw strikes.”
The Cavaliers scored one run apiece in the first and third innings.
In the first, Mayer reached on an error that allowed freshman outfielder Iyana Hughes to score from third. Two innings later it would be Mayer that came around to score; following a single, she reached third on two wild pitches and scored on a groundout by freshman second baseman Madison Labshere.
Virginia’s bats would then fall silent until the sixth inning. Trailing 10-2, junior outfielder Heidi Velk smashed a three-run homer, driving in Bowdren and Harris.
But the Cavaliers ceded any momentum earned in the sixth by allowing five George Mason runs to score in the top of the seventh. Once again, a pair of Virginia errors directly contributed to the damage.
The Patriots scored eight runs in the game’s final three innings to blow the score open, eventually winning 15-5. Miller said he wants to see better late-game execution when the score is tight.
“We have to close out better” Miller said. “The big thing was walks and errors. Those led to every big inning. Without those we can finish.”
Virginia will hit the road for a three game series this weekend at Pittsburgh.