The Virginia softball team will face George Washington for the second time this year as it attempts to avenge its loss to the Colonials earlier in the season.
The two teams first clashed Feb. 21 as part of the Citrus Classic in Orlando, in which the Cavaliers (7-25, 1-8 ACC) fell in heartbreaking fashion. The Colonials (13-11, 0-2 A-10) held a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs when sophomore infielder Kaitlin Fitzgerald stepped up to the plate and laced a bases clearing, game-tying double to force extra innings.
The Cavaliers matched George Washington’s scoring for the next two frames, with each team plating one and two runs in the eighth and ninth inning, respectively, but the Colonials broke loose in the top of the tenth as they scored eight runs. Though Virginia put up one run during its turn, it was not enough to prevent a 16-9 victory for George Washington.
When it comes time to take the field, however, Virginia is not too concerned about the past.
“[Seeing them earlier] really doesn’t factor into anything,” coach Blake Miller said. “We control everything we do.”
Junior pitcher Aimee Chapdelaine echoed her coach’s sentiments.
“I think that we’re strong and ready to play, and I think that the bats have been moving, and so I think whatever [team] we’re ready for,” Chapdelaine said. “We’re excited to play again and get that opportunity.”
Knowing that the team put up nine runs in its last contest against George Washington should help the Cavaliers’ confidence.
“We’re confident in everyone that’s in the lineup,” Chapdelaine said. “Everyone’s doing a great job and producing for the team. I think that [we’re] going to bring it out again, as we always do.”
Regardless of how many runs the Cavaliers scored, Miller remains assured of his team’s ability to take command of each game.
“I’m sure it’s good for the girls’ mentality, but really we just gotta get the mentality that we control each at bat and every bat,” Miller said. “When we do that, we crush the ball. If not, we just give things away.”
The Cavaliers are hoping to build off their previous weekend, in which they went 2-2 in the U.Va. Home Tournament. Virginia showed its offensive potential as well as its fighting spirit, rallying back to earn come-from-behind 8-7 and 9-8 wins against Delaware State and Marist Saturday.
Consistency, both offensively and defensively, remains paramount in order for Virginia to achieve success, as the team also committed 11 errors and saw its bats limited in its two losses over the weekend.
Miller iterated that playing clean defense lies strictly with one’s approach.
“It’s pure mental,” Miller said. “It’s just the decision to get everything done and the relentless ‘you will not, do not fail’. We’re going to make mistakes and it’s not a big deal. It’s just [about] having the psyche that you’re going to get it done.”
Chapdelaine said he shared the same belief in the power of one’s mindset in securing outs for the team.
“I think it’s mentally being confident in what we do everyday,” Chapdelaine said. “Coach gives us the tools and we’re out here enough that we are more than capable of doing all the things that we need to reduce the errors and make the plays that we should make.”
Offense has been an asset for the team so far this season, having launched 31 home runs already, three of which have been slugged by Chapdelaine. With this strength in mind, Chapdelaine said she feels finding the team’s swing depends on the right mental approach.
“I think we have to just work on doing us,” she said. “Doing the best to our ability. Doing what we do well and not giving up what the pitchers do well. We’re young, but I think the confidence will come.”
Miller expressed his faith in the team’s ability to continue its offensive prowess and win games.
“We have the talent we need, we just got to [get] there mentally and gotta get tougher.”
With conviction and consistency, the Cavaliers are looking to continue to build momentum as they take on George Washington Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled at 5 p.m.