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​Virginia takes on ACC rival Syracuse

Softball begins extended homestand in Charlottesville

<p>Junior catcher Katie Parks currently leads Virginia's offense, hitting .283 with six home runs, 28 RBI and 13 runs.</p>

Junior catcher Katie Parks currently leads Virginia's offense, hitting .283 with six home runs, 28 RBI and 13 runs.

The Virginia women’s softball team had been playing some of their best ball heading into last weekend’s series against Boston College. However, inclement weather forced the series to be cancelled, giving the Cavaliers (12-25, 2-7 ACC) an unusual, extended break. Virginia will resume play this weekend in Charlottesville, as they take on ACC rival Syracuse for a three-game series.

The extended break the Cavaliers received could be instrumental to their success this weekend, especially when it pertains to Virginia’s pitchers. Coach Blake Miller pointed out both the mental and physical benefits the break provided.

“Nice thing is it gets our pitching some rest, as they’re still working out, but game rest and mentally lets you recharge,” Miller said. “So really it’s a matter of the girls staying up and just getting ready to go.”

The Orange (17-16, 4-7 ACC) have put together a solid season so far and are playing some of their best ball as of late. They recently won two out of three games against No. 19 Notre Dame. The Cavaliers know playing Syracuse will be a tough task. Miller talked about how their pitching and plate discipline will be imperative during the series.

“Really we’re just going to come out and we got to pitch and play some defense,” Miller said. “Have our pitchers put us in position, and really we just got to be disciplined at the plate.”

In last year’s series against Syracuse, Virginia struggled at the plate. The Cavaliers’ hitters did not take what Syracuse’s pitchers were giving them, and as a result, the offense was stagnant at times.

“We got to drive the ball where they pitch us and so really that’s where we had a problem with last year,” Miller said. “We didn’t get the ball. We didn’t drive the ball where they pitched us. We tried to do to much with it.”

Virginia will use that knowledge and experience this time around to help them prepare for this weekend’s series, as they try to turn things around against the Orange.

“So really coming into this we know exactly what they’re going to do, where the pitchers are going to go at us,” Miller said. “We got to stay within what we do.”

Game one of the series against Syracuse will kick off an eight-game home stand for Virginia, as they will not play on the road for another two weeks. The time spent at home will be beneficial for the team, and Virginia hopes it can use it to reload as the season starts to wind down.

“That’ll be nice, not to be in a hotel, not to be on the road. It’ll help a lot,” Miller said. “It’ll help recharge things, really just keeps momentum going and just recharges the batteries even more when we’re here at home.”

The first contest of the three-game series will be held Saturday at 3 p.m., followed by the second game at 5 p.m., and the series finale Sunday at 12 p.m. All three games will be played at The Park in Charlottesville.