The Virginia softball team again demonstrated its ability to rebound after a tough loss, as it dropped the first game of a doubleheader against Virginia Tech before rallying to claim the second game.
Although both teams are part of the ACC, the games will not be marked as conference games, as the Cavaliers (12-31, 3-12 ACC) and Hokies (29-10, 6-8 ACC) were not originally scheduled to compete. Nevertheless, the Cavaliers’ victory in this year’s iteration of the Commonwealth Clash should serve as a confidence booster as they edge closer to the postseason.
Early in the first game, the Hokies’ sturdy pitching stifled the Virginia bats. Virginia Tech was able to take a 4-0 lead in the third frame when freshman outfielder Breanna Davenport launched a two-run homer and junior infielder Kelsey Mericka followed through with a two-run double. Tech extended the lead to seven runs in the fifth when the Hokies strung together three hits and took advantage of a Cavalier error to plate three more.
The Cavaliers came charging back in the bottom of the inning. Freshman catcher Brittany McNulla and her classmate third baseman Lauren Heintzelman drew consecutive walks, followed by a fielding error by the Hokies that allowed freshman shortstop Allison Davis to reach safely. With the bases loaded, sophomore outfielder Iyana Hughes stepped to the plate and sent the ball soaring over the left-center fence to cut the Hokies’ lead to three. However, this marked the end of the Cavaliers’ scoring, as they were only able to follow Hughes’ grand slam with one hit in the bottom of the seventh and fell, 7-4.
The game was interrupted in the midst of the second inning by a one-hour, 46-minute rain delay.
In the second game, Tech again pounced on the lead in the first inning, drawing three consecutive walks and scoring two on a sacrifice fly and a Virginia error. However, the Cavaliers were able to knot things up when Davis laced a two-run shot over the left-center fence, her seventh home run of the season.
The game remained even until the Cavaliers broke away with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Davis and Hughes each notched singles before sophomore first baseman Kaitlin Fitzgerald placed the ball through the middle to plate Davis. Freshman designated player/infielder Danni Ingraham contributed with an RBI groundout before sophomore catcher Katie Park roped a single to right center to score junior outfielder Taylor Sarcone, pinch running for Fitzgerald, and push Virginia’s advantage to 5-2.
Freshman pitcher Andie Formby also settled down and took control of the game before being relieved by her classmate and sister Alex Formby after the third inning. Alex Formby then shut down the Hokies to seal the 5-2 win for Virginia. The Formby sisters combined to throw a no-hitter, the first for the Cavaliers since 2009.
The Cavaliers will return to conference play this weekend, when they will host a three-game series against North Carolina State. As the season nears its end, the Cavaliers hope to collect some ACC victories and slide into postseason eligibility.