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Softball goes 1-2 during midweek play

Cavaliers defeat Radford, lose two games to James Madison

The Virginia softball team took a break from conference play this week to take on Radford for a single game Tuesday and No. 7 James Madison for a doubleheader Wednesday.

Freshman pitcher Erika Osherow talked about the excitement of playing in Charlottesville, especially during the middle of the week. After the second game of the doubleheader against James Madison (27-2, 3-0 CAA), Osherow mentioned the atmosphere at The Park and how much it meant to her and her teammates.

“I think you definitely felt the energy of the crowd today, which is awesome,” Osherow said. “You have people coming out — girls from young ages to old people — and it’s just great to have the energy and the home field and, you know, play during the week and just keep everybody going on the same page and keep everybody rolling into the weekend is really great.”

The Cavaliers (12-25, 2-7 ACC) went 1-2 over this two-day stretch, beating the Highlanders (19-12, 3-3 Big South) 5-2, and then getting swept by the Dukes in two tightly contested contests, 1-0 and 2-0.

Osherow, who has been pitching very well recently, put together one of her best performances of the season Tuesday, striking out eight hitters in a complete-game effort against Radford. Osherow credited her recent success to the attacking mindset she and the team have been carrying.

“I think just going after teams and attacking them is our, like, main mindset now,” Osherow said. “You know I love having the team behind my back and really just going after teams. JMU is a great team, but you know, just try and step up and do the best I can is what I’m going to try to do.”

Virginia coach Blake Miller has noticed Osherow’s recent performances. He credits the freshman for putting in the work and improving as the season has gone on, especially after experiencing some early season struggles. Her last couple of starts have showcased the strides she has made in her game.

“Erika has done a great job just progressing, especially through her freshman year,” Miller said. “She was supposed to redshirt, and then she stepped up and rolled up, and she was going to play this year, and she took those early lumps of learning how to pitch in college, and now she’s really stepping up and becoming her own pitcher and deciding how she throws instead of letting the game decide what she does.”

Despite two strong pitching performances by their starters against James Madison Wednesday, the Cavaliers’ offense struggled. Virginia was shut out in both games Wednesday and could not get much going on offense. Miller thought the offense needed to perform better with runners in scoring position.

“Basically our hitters got to step up and just step up and get it done when there’s runners on base,” Miller said. “Big thing though is the pitching kept us there, and really those hitters are going to learn, and they’re going to get better.”

Not only focusing, but also relaxing, is critical at the plate. At times, Virginia’s hitters let the game speed up, and it caused the offense to become stagnant as a whole. It didn’t help that Virginia’s offense was going up against two elite pitchers.

“We just didn’t take the game, didn’t let the game slow down,” Miller said. “They have two, top-tier pitchers and we let the game speed up with them. We let the game speed up and it beat us.”

Despite Virginia’s offensive struggles, their pitching and energy were a bright stop this week, and have Miller feeling good about his team heading into the weekend.

“To come through these games like we did and to battle, I’m really happy going into this weekend and really excited about we can do against Boston College,” Miller said.

Virginia will travel to Boston this weekend to play Boston College for a three-game series. The first two games of the series will be played Saturday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively, and the third game will be held at 12 p.m. Sunday, and will finish off the series.