After a disappointing opening weekend in Florida, the Virginia softball team headed to Elon, N.C., to compete in the Elon Softball February Classic this past weekend at Hunt Softball Park. The Cavaliers (4-5, 0-0 ACC) impressed with four wins in four games, with a fifth game being cancelled due to inclement weather.
Game 1: Virginia 4, Northern Kentucky 2
Virginia and Northern Kentucky (1-3, 0-0 Horizon League) both remained scoreless until the third inning. The Cavaliers scored in the third when sophomore infielder Hayley Busby doubled to left field and was driven in by senior pitcher and outfielder Lacy Smith with an RBI-single. Northern Kentucky responded in the bottom of the third, scoring two unearned runs and taking the lead.
Senior pitcher Erika Osherow held Northern Kentucky to two runs, facing 27 batters and giving up just four hits before Virginia tied it up in the sixth with a homer to left center by Smith. Still tied in the seventh, the game went into extra innings.
In a tiebreaker, Virginia started the eighth inning with a sacrifice bunt. Smith followed with her second homer of the game, a shot down the left field line, to score two runs and give the Cavaliers the lead. Freshman pitcher and outfielder Aly Rayle pitched a perfect eighth inning to finish the game and clinch Virginia’s first win of the season.
Smith went 4-for-4 against Northern Kentucky with two singles and two home runs. Leading offensively, Smith delivered all four runs of the game. Her home run in the eighth scored two to give Virginia their first win of the season.
Game 2: Virginia 2, Hampton 0
Virginia beat Hampton (1-2, 0-0 Big South), scoring two runs and shutting out the Pirates in seven innings.
Busby led off the fourth with a double and was driven in to score the first run of the game. In the bottom of the inning, redshirt senior pitcher Allyson Frei delivered against Hampton, and with the bases loaded and no outs, she managed an infield fly and two strikeouts to save the inning.
In the sixth, Busby singled on a ground ball –– taking second on a bad throw and crossing home on a ground ball by Smith. Busby finished the game scoring both runs for Virginia with two hits in three at-bats.
Both the Cavaliers and the Pirates had five hits and two errors in seven innings.
Pitching a complete game shutout against Hampton, Frei led Virginia to their second win of the season. Frei held the Pirates to just five hits in 28 at-bats, striking out 10. Frei transferred from Boston College, where she pitched 152 innings, striking out 141 and shutting out national state champion Florida State in a 1-0 victory. As a freshman she appeared in 40 games, starting in 34 and led the league in strikeouts (222) in 199 innings pitched. Her 10 strikeouts against Hampton are the most by any Virginia pitcher since 2013.
Game 3: Virginia 7, Elon 3
Virginia came up with their third-straight win Saturday against Elon.
Despite Elon scoring two runs early in the bottom of the first, the Cavaliers responded at the plate. Senior catcher Olivia Gott hit a shot to left field in the third to drive in sophomore infielder and outfielder Savana Avilla. Later in the inning, freshman catcher and infielder Donna Friedman singled to left center, allowing Gott to score and tying it up.
In the fourth, the Cavaliers drove in two more runs with a double by Busby that allowed junior infielder Ashlee Davis to score followed by a sac fly to drive in one more.
Friedman delivered a major home run to left center in the fifth, driving in Gott and giving the Cavaliers insurance going into the final innings. She produced another RBI in the seventh with a ground-out that gave the Cavaliers a five-run lead.
Frei started on the hill again, walking two in the first and giving up a single that gave Elon the lead. She was replaced by Smith, who came in and pitched 1 ⅔ innings, holding the Phoenix and allowing no hits. Freshman pitcher and outfielder Clare Zureich relieved Smith and threw the final two innings, closing out the game but giving up one run on a passed ball in the seventh, producing a final score of 7-3.
Davis went 3-3 against the Phoenix with two doubles. Sophomore outfielder Kate Covington and Busby also produced two hits each.
Friedman came up with her first collegiate home run and went 2-for-4 with four RBIs to put Virginia on top and extend the lead.
Game 4: Virginia 11, Northern Kentucky 1
Virginia beat Northern Kentucky again Sunday, thanks to clutch hitting throughout the lineup. In the top of the first, leadoff Busby worked the count to 3-2 and hit a solo home run over the left field fence, putting the Cavaliers on top early. The Norse answered back in the bottom of the inning, scoring one run off of two walks and extra bases on wild pitches.
In the top of the third, Gott homered to right center, bringing in two runs to take the lead 3-1.
Virginia scored four more runs in the fifth thanks to Friedman with a leadoff double into left field and Davis, who singled up the middle to score two. Freshman infielder Abigail Barber brought in another couple of runs with a shot over the right field fence.
In the final inning, the Cavaliers continued to dominate offensively, bringing in another four runs and widening the score gap to produce a final 11-1. Frei came in to pitch the final two innings in the rain, allowing a bunt but striking out three. Virginia allowed just two hits in the game.
Barber went 3-3 against Northern Kentucky, knocking her first collegiate home run over the right field fence and driving in two runs. Busby also hit her first collegiate home run.
Rayle came in in the second inning and held the Norse to one run until being taken out and replaced by Frei in the sixth. Rayle allowed just one hit in four innings with one walk and six strikeouts.
The game against N.C. Central was cancelled due to rain.
Player to Watch
Smith currently leads the team with a .419 batting average and .429 on-base percentage. She has three home runs this season and a .769 slugging percentage. This weekend she went 7-14 with two home runs.
Virginia sits at a record of 4-5 heading to Knoxville, Tenn., this coming weekend for the Tennessee Classic. The Cavaliers are set to play Louisville Friday at 9:30 a.m.