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Softball hosts Georgia Tech in ACC matchup

Cavaliers look to rebound after two midweek losses

<p>Coach Joanna Hardin will try to&nbsp;lead Virginia to&nbsp;its first conference series win.&nbsp;</p>

Coach Joanna Hardin will try to lead Virginia to its first conference series win. 

After dropping two-consecutive games to Liberty, the Virginia softball team is gearing up to host ACC opponent Georgia Tech for a three-game series.

Liberty (28-16, 10-2 Big South) kept the Cavaliers (14-28, 3-12 ACC) off the scoreboard over the course of two games with a 4-0 and 3-0 win — giving the Flames five-straight shutouts.

In the latter matchup of the two, the Cavaliers were held to only two hits in the entire game, with senior catcher Katie Park and senior first baseman Danni Ingraham recording them.

“Offensively, we’re a better team than we showed in the last two weeks,” Coach Joanna Hardin said. “But, I think we have to keep plugging away, and we have to do a better [job] getting a hit on a good pitch … We’re not doing that consistently.”

Junior pitcher and outfielder Allison Davis, who is leading the team with a .336 batting average, has been crucial in setting the offensive tone for the Cavaliers. In Virginia’s most recent victory — 7-2 over George Mason — Davis led the way with two hits and two RBIs. Park has also been key in generating runs for Virginia, with her team-high 21 RBIs.

Despite the current offensive struggles, Virginia has seen improvements on the other end of play recently, Hardin said.

“Between [the last two games], our pitchers threw well,” Hardin said. “We had been struggling in the circle with being consistent, but our pitchers are starting to get in their groove and get a little rhythm. Defensively, it has been a struggle early on in the season, but I think we’ve cleaned that up a little bit.”

Some of these struggles have led to challenges for the Cavaliers thus far in the season, such as a couple of very tight losses and a six-game losing streak at one point. Nevertheless, the Cavaliers haven’t given up their resolve.

“The team is grinding [and] fighting,” Hardin said. “It’s been tough ... We’ve had some close games that we felt like we could’ve come through and got the [win], but we also have some good wins ... We know we’re capable [of more wins].”

Meanwhile, Georgia Tech (12-28, 5-10 ACC) comes into the match after losing 7-2 to No. 19 Georgia. Although the Yellow Jackets got on the scoreboard first, they were unable to stop the Bulldogs’ (28-13, 2-10 SEC) offense. Sophomore infielder Katie Krzus went two-for-three and got a run to lead Georgia Tech’s offense for the night. Krzus currently boasts the second-best batting average for the Yellow Jackets — sitting just behind senior infielder Jessica Kowalewicz, who leads the way for the team with a .328 batting average.

“Georgia Tech can swing it, and they score a lot of runs,” Hardin said. “We’re going to have to be disciplined and swing at balls in the zone … And pitchers will have to keep [Georgia Tech’s] offense in check.”

In the clash between the two teams, Virginia will look to win its first conference series. Even if it will be difficult, the Cavaliers are prepared for the upcoming battle.

“They’re ready to go, and I think [they’re] a little anxious to get back on the field at this point,” Hardin said.

The first game of the series is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday night. After the series, Virginia will host Georgetown for a midweek, non-conference matchup. Then, the team will head on the road to take on Notre Dame for more ACC play.  


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