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Softball opens season in stride at Charlotte Invitational

The Cavaliers finished the weekend 3-1 against Charlotte and Appalachian State

<p>Sophomore Donna Friedman launched her first home run of the season to give Virginia the lead in the 11th inning against Charlotte Friday night.&nbsp;</p>

Sophomore Donna Friedman launched her first home run of the season to give Virginia the lead in the 11th inning against Charlotte Friday night. 

Virginia softball opened its 2020 season against Charlotte and Appalachian State in the Charlotte Invitational over the weekend. The tournament kicked off Friday when the Cavaliers (3-1, 0-0 ACC) rallied in extra innings to knock down the 49ers (1-3, 0-0 C-USA) in an exciting season-opener. Virginia went on to beat Charlotte a second time Saturday but split its games against the Mountaineers (2-2, 0-0 SBC) to round out play. 

Game 1: Virginia 10, Charlotte 5

The Cavaliers faced off against the 49ers in the first matchup of the four-game invitational. Both teams got off to slow starts, as there was just one run recorded in the first three innings. Virginia’s sophomore catcher Ashley Jennings opened the scoring when she took advantage of a wild pitch at the top of the second inning. 

The Cavaliers came out hot in the third inning, and junior right fielder Savana Avilla scored off a triple by sophomore outfielder Tori Gilbert, who crossed home later in the inning to give Virginia a 3-0 lead. 

Charlotte rallied back, however, scoring three runs in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at 3-3. The 49ers continued their hot streak with two more runs in the bottom of the fifth after a scoreless inning from the Cavaliers. Sophomore left fielder Imani Rochelle was a key contributor for Charlotte, giving the 49ers a 5-3 lead with a home run to right field. 

Down 5-3, it was Virginia’s turn to respond as it tied the game 5-5 in the top of the sixth inning. Gilbert scored on a passed ball before junior outfielder Kate Covington crossed home off a single by sophomore second baseman Arizona Ritchie. 

The game extended into extras following a scoreless seventh inning, but the Cavaliers caught fire in the 11th and final inning with five runs that sealed the victory by a score of 10-5. Sophomore designated player Donna Friedman initiated the rally with a two-run homer at the top of the inning, while Covington and sophomore left fielder Bailey Winscott added to the damage with a triple and single, respectively.

Virginia continued play with two games Saturday, taking on Appalachian State before facing off against Charlotte once again. 

Game 2: Virginia 0, Appalachian State 1

Both teams struggled as the game remained scoreless until the seventh inning. The Cavaliers were unable to get anything going until the sixth inning when Virginia found its best chance of the game. With back-to-back singles, Ritchie and freshman shortstop Katie Goldberg were stranded as Virginia was unable to convert. 

The only score came in the top of the seventh inning by the Mountaineers. Following a single by junior catcher Baylee Morton, freshman outfielder Delaney Smith advanced to third base and scored via a Virginia fielding error. 

Appalachian State went on to secure the 1-0 win. 

Game 3: Virginia 7, Charlotte 6

The Cavaliers matched up with the 49ers later in the day, as they completed a sweep of Charlotte, winning the second game 7-6 in eight innings. 

Virginia got off to a swift start in the opening inning, jumping to an early 3-0 lead with scores from Gilbert and Friedman. 

The 49ers gradually cut into the Cavalier lead and managed to come within a single run in the fourth inning to put the score at 6-5. Charlotte continued its comeback in the sixth inning with a homer from sophomore catcher Bailey Vannoy to tie the score 6-6. 

Once again, the game extended into extra innings after a scoreless seventh. Virginia remained persistent and junior pinch-runner Molly Keshin scored off a double by Jennings. 

Game 4: Virginia 9, Appalachian State 7

The final game of the invitational took place Sunday when the Cavaliers looked to redeem their first loss against Appalachian State. 

Virginia opened the game with two runs, but the Mountaineers responded with five runs in the bottom of the first inning. Morton tripled down the right field line to score two runs and came back the next inning with a two-run homer to give Appalachian State a 7-2 lead.

After a scoreless third inning, the Cavaliers began to work their way back into the game with two runs from Ritchie and Goldberg. 

Virginia completed its comeback in the sixth inning with five runs sparked by singles from Winscott, Avilla and Goldberg, as well as a two-run double by Friedman. The Cavaliers closed out the inning 9-7 and held the lead through the final inning. 

Virginia travels to Rock Hill, S.C. to compete in the Winthrop Tournament at Terry Field Friday. The Cavaliers will face off against UNCG at 12:30 p.m. before taking on Winthrop, Holy Cross, Georgetown and Boston through the rest of the three-day tournament. 

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