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Softball gets big series win against North Carolina

Strong performances from freshmen Osherow, Arneson propel Cavaliers

<p>Freshman pitcher&nbsp;Erika Osherow impressed,&nbsp;throwing two complete games in Virginia's series win against North Carolina.</p>

Freshman pitcher Erika Osherow impressed, throwing two complete games in Virginia's series win against North Carolina.

Everything seemed to click for the Virginia softball team this weekend. It had arguably its best series performance of the season, taking two of three against the Tar Heels. The Cavaliers (15-28, 5-10 ACC) used strong pitching and timely hitting to take down a quality opponent in North Carolina (24-21, 8-10 ACC).

A pair of freshman — pitcher Erika Osherow and shortstop Allie Arneson — stole the show in this weekend’s series.

Osherow allowed only one run in the first game of the series, turning in a complete-game effort that helped Virginia win 7-1. She then followed the it up with another strong performance in the series finale.

In the rubber match, Osherow threw a two run complete-game effort that helped Virginia win, 3-2, and clinch the series against the Tar Heels. Virginia coach Blake Miller came away impressed with Osherow’s performance this weekend.

“That was a big thing,” Miller said. “Even in some tough spots when, you know, we had a couple errors behind, we stepped up behind her and she really went after the batters and stayed on top, and in control.”

However, it wasn’t only Virginia’s pitching that dominated in their two wins. The Cavaliers’ offense had a big weekend, led by Arneson. The Aledo, Texas native had a huge performance in the first game of the series, hitting a solo home run and a two-run single that helped lift Virginia over North Carolina.

In Sunday’s win, Arneson’s triple got things going for the Virginia offense. She ended up scoring and helped the Cavaliers jump out to an early lead — something the team had talked about improving after they had allowed Syracuse to take early advantages in last weekend’s series.

The rest of Virginia’s offense followed Arneson’s lead and had a big series, scoring seven, eight and three runs in each game, respectively. Miller pointed out how the team’s improved plate discipline had a lot to do with that.

“The biggest thing is our plate discipline,” Miller said. “We sat in and looked for pitches that we wanted to hit instead of worrying about pitcher’s pitches.”

Miller credits Virginia’s strong offensive performance in game one to allowing the offense to have a huge weekend. The first game of the series set the tone for the rest of the weekend, helping Virginia’s offense gain momentum.

“That was really the big key in this whole weekend, is finding that plate discipline again; we just started smoking it,” Miller said. “That first game was huge in how they started hitting the ball and it just carried through the rest of the weekend.”

In the second game of the series, Virginia’s pitching struggled, with freshman Lacy Smith surrendering nine runs in a 10-8 loss. However, it wasn’t long before Virginia bounced back in the series finale, winning a tight contest that went down to the very end. The Cavaliers hope this series can help the team gain momentum heading into the week.

“UNC’s a great team; I think it’s awesome to have those wins behind us going in for a week — it just will accelerate us and keep us moving forward,” Osherow said. “And then I also just think, you know we got to take what we have today, not overanalyze it, but then use that energy we have and go forward with it and really use that as momentum.”

The Cavaliers will have a quick turnaround, as Liberty comes to town for a two-game series that will be played Wednesday at the Park. The first game of the series will be played at 4 p.m. and the second game at 6 p.m., closing out Virginia’s eight-game home stand.