The Virginia softball team took both games of their doubleheader Wednesday afternoon against Liberty. The Cavaliers (8-40, 1-22 ACC) put forward a tremendous effort in all facets of the game to douse the Flames (7-42, 2-19 Big South) by a combined score of 16-4.
“I’m always happy after a win,” coach Blake Miller said. “The girls keep on getting better, and we saw that again today.”
Virginia rode the brilliant effort of sophomore pitcher Aimee Chapdelaine to a 3-1 victory in game one. Chapdelaine carried the momentum from yesterday to a complete game victory. She allowed the lone run on five hits, walked one and recorded two strikeouts for her seventh win.
“Aimee pitched another great game,” Miller said. “When she works ahead of batters and makes them swing it boosts everyone’s confidence.”
The Cavaliers jumped on the board in the bottom of the third. Senior Karli Johnson, the designated player, opened the inning with a single. Senior second baseman Marcy Bowdren hit a bloop single over the shortstop’s glove, advancing Johnson to second.
Johnson then came around to score on a throwing error by senior pitcher Alyssa DiMartino, while Bowdren moved to third. A ground out by freshman outfielder Iyana Hughes drove in Bowdren for the first run.
Virginia added on another run in the next inning. Freshman third baseman Lindsay Mayer led off the inning with a walk and reached third on a double by junior first baseman Megan Harris. Johnson knocked a single to bring home Mayer, but was tagged out at second trying to stretch the play.
Liberty did not touch Chapdelaine until the fifth inning when junior designated player Hannah Nichols knocked a crisp single into right field. This hit snapped Chapdelaine’s streak of 10 2/3 innings without a hit.
A Virginia error set up the Flames for their only run in the sixth inning. Senior outfielder Katie Zavodny laid down a bunt single and reached second on a throwing error by Mayer. Zavodny advanced to third following a single by junior second baseman Megan Robinson.
Robinson attempted to steal second. On a heady play, she placed herself in a rundown which allowed Zavodny to cross the plate.
Six uneventful outs later, the Cavaliers picked up their seventh win of the season.
Virginia’s bats exploded in the latter game — putting up 13 runs in a five inning slaughter rule victory.
“Today was a complete team effort,” Mayer said. “This is what we’ve been working towards all season, and it finally came together.”
Virginia jumped out to a four-run lead in the opening frame. Mayer walked following singles by Hughes and freshman catcher Katie Park to load the bases. Another walk by DiMartino would force home Hughes. In the next at-bat, Harris drove in two by ripping a double into straightaway center. Finally, Labshere came home on a fielder’s choice by Johnson.
“They stuck to their plans,” Miller said. “We’ve had some good at-bats in the past couple of games, but we were missing the pitches. We weren’t missing pitches today, and we hit them.”
The Flames cut the deficit with two runs in the third and one more in the fourth — Nichols doubled home two in the third and Zavodny added an RBI single in the next frame.
The Cavaliers promptly fired off nine unanswered runs in the final two innings.
In the bottom of the fourth, Hughes singled home Chapdelaine and a hard-hit double by Mayer would bring around junior outfielder Heidi Velk and Hughes.
Mayer would put the icing on the cake in the next inning. Having already scored three runs, the Cavaliers only needed one more to end the game. Mayer smashed the ball into left field for a three-run home run — her first career shot.
“It was a good feeling,” Mayer said. “I had been walked twice earlier in the game and was kind of upset. I was waiting for my pitch, and I got it.”
This sweep energized a team mired in a bad season, and perhaps provided a shot in the arm necessary to improve on their conference mark this weekend.
The Cavaliers close out the regular season with a three game series at Boston College, starting with a doubleheader Saturday afternoon before the season finale Sunday.