The Virginia softball (11-30, 3-12 ACC) team earned its first ACC series victory of the season as it took two of three from Boston College over the weekend.
The Cavaliers split Friday’s doubleheader before rallying back in Sunday’s rubber game to take the series. Virginia has now won four of its last five games.
In the first game, Boston College struck with four runs in the first two innings to take an early lead and continued to score in every inning but the third and seventh. The Cavaliers’ offense fell quiet for the first five innings, and the Eagles looked to be heading to an easy victory after accumulating a 9-1 lead entering the bottom of the sixth frame.
However, thanks to moon shots by sophomore outfielder Iyana Hughes and freshman designated player/infielder Danni Ingraham, Virginia came charging back with five runs in the bottom of the sixth to cut Boston College’s lead to three. Virginia was able to add another run in the bottom of the seventh, but the Cavaliers were unable to complete the comeback as Boston College survived 9-7.
Despite trailing by eight runs, the Cavaliers demonstrated their fighting spirit as they battled back to score seven runs, falling just short of the rally.
“We fight back. We’re not going go out without a swing, without a fight. I don’t know why we just seem to wait till too late, but hey, if we’re gonna win the game that way why not?” Hughes said. “We’re fighters, that’s what we are.”
Virginia was able to carry its momentum in the second game, as the Cavaliers pounced on the lead with two runs in the second inning. Freshman third baseman Lauren Heintzelman reached base after being hit by a pitch, and junior outfielder/pitcher Aimee Chapdelaine followed through by lacing a single into left field. After freshman shortstop Allison Davis knocked a ball to the Eagles’ third baseman, a throwing error allowed Heintzelman and Chapdelaine to score to give Virginia a 2-0 lead.
The Eagles could not crack freshman pitcher Alex Formby’s code as she remained in tight control throughout the entire game, only allowing one run in the top of the fourth inning. Heintzelman scored her second run of the game as she smacked a solo shot over the centerfield fence in the fourth to cushion Virginia’s lead to two runs, and the Cavaliers shut down Boston College to run away with a 3-1 victory to split the doubleheader. Formby totaled five strikeouts as she earned the complete game win.
A recurrent theme this season has been the Cavaliers demonstrating their ability to bounce back and win games after losses.
“Right now we have confidence in everybody. Everybody can hit. We believe in each other and we put it together,” Hughes said.
In Sunday’s series finale the Cavaliers again rallied back and came out on top. A Cavalier error allowed the Eagles to take an early 3-0 lead. Boston College capitalized upon another error by Virginia to add another run to their lead. However, the game would soon start shifting the Cavaliers’ way as their offense exploded to plate seven runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Sophomore second baseman McKall Miller and freshman catcher Brittany McNulla started the inning by drawing consecutive walks, before Heintzelman singled through the middle to score Miller and put Virginia on the board. Sophomore catcher Katie Park and Davis drew two more walks to plate McNulla, and with the bases loaded Hughes hit her second double of the game to plate two more and knot the game at 4-4. Fitzgerald gave the Cavaliers the lead with an RBI groundout, before Ingraham lasered an opposite-field home run over the right field fence to give Virginia a three run advantage.
Despite committing five errors in the game, the Cavaliers were able to work around their miscues and ride their offensive eruption to a 7-4 victory. Chapdelaine earned the complete game win as she and the Cavaliers prohibited the Eagles from scoring another run after the fifth frame.
Sunday’s victory marked the first series finale victory of the season for the Cavaliers as they claimed their first conference series win.
“It’s absolutely huge, because since I’ve been here, we haven’t been able to get one,” coach Blake Miller said. “To get that first series win, all wins build confidence in what’s going on. They’re believing in little pieces of what we do. It’s just those series wins and stuff like that help a lot.”
In addition to its offensive ability, Virginia’s pitching also contributed greatly to the two wins.
“In the first game, Aimee came in and kept us there so we could battle back. We just didn’t close it out. And then Alex did a great job yesterday, going on to win a pretty close one, and then today Aimee did a great job battling around five errors and we were still able to overcome it,” Miller said. “That’s really big, that we had errors and we overcame each time.”
The Cavaliers will next look to continue their successful homestand with a doubleheader against Virginia Tech on Wednesday beginning at 5:00 p.m.