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Virginia sweeps Pittsburgh to open ACC play at The Park

The Cavaliers open up conference play with dominance

<p>The softball team had two walk-off victories in the series against Pittsburgh.</p>

The softball team had two walk-off victories in the series against Pittsburgh.

The Cavaliers faced Pittsburgh this weekend in Charlottesville, Va., winning all three matchups to start off with a 3-0 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Two games were tied in the final inning, ending in walk-off victories. 

Game 1: Virginia 7, Pittsburgh 4

Virginia (11-9, 3-0 ACC) defeated Pittsburgh (3-18, 0-3 ACC) Saturday to open ACC play at The Park. A five run rally in the fifth put the Cavaliers on top and broke the game open. 

Senior pitcher Allyson Frei allowed a leadoff walk in the first inning and a run later scored on a throwing error, giving Pitt an early lead. Virginia answered in the bottom of the inning when senior pitcher Lacy Smith doubled to right center and advanced to third on a single by senior catcher Olivia Gott. Freshman catcher Donna Friedman came up with an RBI with a fly ball to center that allowed Smith to cross home. 

In the fourth inning Gott hit her third home run of the season to put the Cavaliers ahead. However, Pitt tied things up in the fifth, scoring on a double to left field.

Virginia set things in motion in the bottom of the fifth, scoring five runs on four hits to take a substantial lead. The inning started with two walks, and Smith loaded the bases with a single to left field. Friedman hit a double down the third base line, racking up two more RBIs for the day. Freshman infielder Arizona Ritchie followed with her first career triple, hitting a ball to right center that allowed two more runs to score. Ritchie was driven in by senior pitcher Erika Osherow with a single to third base. 

Pitt scored two in the final inning on a double and single but couldn’t match Virginia’s seven runs, and the Cavaliers came up with their first win in an ACC opener since 2012. 

Standing Out

Three freshmen stood out in the matchup. Pitcher Aly Rayle earned the win on the mound, replacing Frei and allowing just one earned run in two and a third innings. At the plate, Friedman and Ritchie each produced a pair of RBIs in the fifth inning.  

Game 2: Virginia 7, Pittsburgh 6

Virginia won their second game against Pittsburgh with a walk-off single by freshman outfielder Tori Gilbert in the bottom of the seventh. Both teams battled it out offensively and the Cavaliers ended the game with 13 hits. 

Taking the lead in the first, Smith hit her eighth home run of the season. The following inning, however, Pittsburgh put three runs on the board. Frei retired the first two hitters, but Pitt rallied with two outs, taking advantage of two walks and producing a pair of singles and a double to put them ahead 3-1. 

Sophomore Kate Covington led off the second with a home run to left center, her third of the season. In the third, Ritchie also came up with a home run to make it an even score. 

Osherow came in to pitch in the fourth and allowed two runs to score before being replaced by freshman pitcher Clare Zureich. Pittsburgh freshman outfielder Katlyn Pavlick homered to center field and a walk and a hit by pitch put runners in scoring position. A single up the middle scored one and a ground out allowed another to cross home, unearned.

In the bottom of the fourth, Gilbert singled up the middle with two outs. Sophomore infielder Hayley Busby followed with a single to right field, taking second on the throw and allowing Gilbert to advance to third. Smith singled to score Busby and Gilbert.

Busby homered in the sixth to tie the game up, and the Cavaliers held Pitt in the top of the seventh. In the final inning, junior infielder Ashlee Davis reached on a fielder’s choice. Gilbert singled to right field and the Panthers lost control of the ball, allowing Davis to score the winning run. 

Game 3: Virginia 5, Pittsburgh 4

Two home runs in the first few innings allowed Pitt to take an early lead over Virginia. The Cavaliers responded in the bottom of the third and tied the game at two. Gilbert singled and was later driven in by Smith. Gott followed with the third single of the inning, allowing Smith to score on a fielding error.

In the sixth Pitt scored again, starting the inning with two singles and a walk to load the bases. An error by Frei on the mound allowed one run to cross the plate. A single up the middle followed to give the Panthers a 4-2 lead. 

Osherow and Covington hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game. With runners on first and second, Busby laid down a bunt single, and a poor throw by the second baseman allowed freshman pinch-runner Emma McBride to score the deciding run in the second walk-off victory of the day. 

Rayle pitched four and two-thirds innings and was relieved by Frei, who closed out the final two innings and earned the win.

Virginia plays Charlotte next in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, March 12 at 4 p.m. before traveling to Greenville, S.C., to play Furman at 7 p.m.