The Virginia softball team earned two comeback, walk-off wins against Longwood Wednesday in its last games at The Park this season. The Cavaliers improved to 15-33 (4-14 ACC), while the Lancers fell to 20-23 (14-4 Big South).
In the first contest, Longwood relied heavily on the long ball, beginning the game by launching a two-run shot over the left-field fence to give the Lancers a 2-0 lead with no outs in the top of the first frame. Longwood widened the lead to 5-0 in the third, this time on a three-run homer by senior Megan Baltzell.
However, the Cavaliers came roaring back in the bottom of the third to score four runs, followed by two more in the fourth frame to take the lead. Sophomore second baseman McKall Miller and freshman shortstop Allison Davis singled to start the rally for Virginia, and sophomore outfielder Iyana Hughes followed with a double to score Miller.
Sophomore first baseman Kaitlin Fitzgerald then stepped to the plate and launched the ball down the left-field line and over the fence for a three-run homer to put the Cavaliers within one. In the fourth inning, senior outfielder Heidi Velk singled with two outs, and Davis followed through with a two-run shot to put Virginia on top.
The Lancers managed to knot the game up in the sixth, loading the bases on an error, a hit-by-pitch and a walk as the Cavaliers nearly let the game get away. Baltzell squeaked into home after a wild pitch by junior pitcher Aimee Chapdelaine, who relieved freshman pitcher Alex Formby earlier in the inning, but Chapdelaine then induced a ground out right back to herself and threw to first to end the inning and limit the damage to one run.
However, the Cavaliers would end the game in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the seventh. With the contest tied at 6-6, freshman designated player Danni Ingraham singled and was pinch-run for by freshman Lauren Heintzelman.
Senior outfielder Megan Harris laid down a bunt, but the Lancers managed to throw out Heintzelman at second. Freshman third baseman Brittany McNulla singled through the right side to move Harris to second before sophomore catcher Katie Park knocked the ball to the shortstop, who committed a costly throwing error that allowed Harris to slide safely into home and give Virginia the 7-6 walkoff win.
Virginia completed its sweep of Longwood with another comeback, walk-off win in the second contest. Longwood again got off to an early lead, hitting two home runs and scoring in the first three innings to lead 3-0 entering the bottom of the third. However, the Cavaliers responded by showing how tremendous of a home-run threat they truly are, mashing back-to-back-to-back home runs by Miller, Velk and Davis in third to even the score at 3-3.
After flexing its muscles, Virginia’s offense remained mostly quiet for the remainder of the game. Longwood struck for one run in the top of the fifth, when the Lancers orchestrated a double steal that allowed Baltzell to steal home and score her third run of the night, giving Longwood the 4-3 lead. Heading into the bottom of the seventh, it looked like the Lancers might run away with the victory. However, the Cavaliers, as they have done all season, would not go down quietly.
McNulla led off the inning by drawing a walk to bring the winning run to the plate. Miller immediately laid down a textbook bunt for a single. With no outs and runners on first and second, Velk drove a 3-2 pitch over the right-center fence for the walk-off 6-4 win. It was Velk’s second shot of the game.
Chapdelaine, who was also the winning pitcher for the first game, earned the win for her complete-game effort.
The two comeback, walk-off wins should serve as a satisfying ending to Virginia’s home schedule. Virginia will next take on the Florida State Seminoles as the team travels to Tallahassee to compete in a three-game series this weekend. Returning to conference play, the Cavaliers will look to earn some ACC wins and qualify for the upcoming conference tournament.