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Virginia downed in home opener against James Madison following losses to Clemson

The softball team was swept by the Tigers this past weekend during conference-play kick off and continued their skid losing their first game in Palmer Park

<p>Despite having a tough outing against Clemson, sophomore pitcher Aly Rayle has been an ace for Virginia this season, posting 55 strikeouts and a 2.86 ERA.&nbsp;</p>

Despite having a tough outing against Clemson, sophomore pitcher Aly Rayle has been an ace for Virginia this season, posting 55 strikeouts and a 2.86 ERA. 

Following a solid showing in their first three tournaments, the Cavaliers were halted by Clemson as the teams faced off in their first ACC matchups of the year.

The Cavaliers (8-9, 0-3 ACC) went 0-3 against the Tigers (14-7, 3-0 ACC) in the three-game series in Clemson, S.C. — an unwanted outcome in the lead up to their first home game at the new softball stadium Palmer Park. 

Virginia looked to rebound in the home opener, however the team’s losing streak extended to five after being dealt a loss by James Madison University. 

Game 1 — Virginia 7, Clemson 8

The first game Friday was the closest of the bouts between the two teams. Following a sluggish start with a scoreless opening two innings, it was the Cavaliers that struck first blood in the top of the third inning. 

Sophomore catcher Ashley Jennings opened the inning with a single and later stole third, subsequently scoring to put Virginia on the board 1-0. 

In the fourth inning, sophomore infielder Emma McBride stole second, putting the Cavaliers in a prime position to pile on more runs. Jennings did just that, hitting a home run to bring Virginia’s lead to 3-0. 

However, the Tigers came roaring back in the bottom of the fourth with four runs. Clemson freshman outfielder Alia Logoleo was the first to cross the plate, scoring off of a double from junior infielder Bailey Taylor, who later secured a run of her own. 

Another run from freshman infielder Arielle Oda tied things up at 3-3 as Clemson continued to close in. The Tigers managed to take the lead moments later with a run by junior infielder Cammy Pereira to go up 4-3. 

Virginia kept pace in the top of the fifth, with two runs from junior infielder Savana Avilla and sophomore outfielder Tori Gilbert. 

Junior outfielder Kate Covington kept the momentum going scoring a run and a double that resulted in a run by sophomore catcher Donna Friedman to go up 7-4. Clemson came away with one more run in the inning to make things closer at 7-5. 

After Virginia came away empty in the top of the sixth, the Tigers continued to close in. Freshman catcher Jojo Hyatt singled to center field, allowing a run from freshman utility Valerie Cagle. 

A reach by Taylor on a fielder’s choice to shortstop opened the door for Clemson to tie things up as senior infielder MK Bonamy delivered the run. 

The Tigers closed things out in the final inning with a single run to clinch the win the first game of the series, 8-7. 

Game 2 — Virginia 4, Clemson 8

The Tigers maintained their momentum going into the second game of the series Saturday with a scorching run in the bottom of the first inning. 

With the bases filling up, Logoleo singled to shortstop, opening the door for a run by Pereira. This was followed up by a single by Bonamy which grew the Tiger lead to 3-0 with the hot-streak being capped off with a run by Logoleo, bringing the score to 4-0. 

Virginia looked to tighten things up in the second inning as Covington lead the comeback with two runs, slashing Clemson’s lead in half. 

With solid pitching fending the Tigers off for the time being, the Cavaliers looked to be in trouble in the top of the third inning with two early outs. However, freshman infielder Katie Goldberg homered to left field, providing a shot of energy to the team. 

Friedman followed up with a home run of her own tying things up at 4-4. Clemson managed to retake the lead in the third inning to go back up 5-4 as a Bonamy single gave freshman infielder Hannah Goodwin the go-ahead run. 

The fourth inning proved to be a decisive one where the Tigers took advantage to grow their lead, scoring another three runs that were ultimately the final runs of the game. 

Cagle was the catalyst of the scoring run as her double to left center led to two runs from Pereira and junior catcher Grace Mattimore eventually swelling the  Tiger lead to 8-4. 

Despite solid pitching and holding off the Tigers on the scoring end, Virginia was unable to respond in the next two innings with three quick outs in the fifth inning and uneventful sixth inning. 

With the Cavaliers unable to manage a single hit in the fifth or sixth innings, things looked bleak with the team down four runs heading into the seventh and final inning where Clemson maintained their 8-4 lead to win the second game. 

Game 3 — Virginia 3, Clemson 12

The third game of the series taking place on Sunday was the most lopsided of the three as the Tigers kept their rhythm going to complete the sweep of Virginia. 

The Cavaliers had the upper-hand to start, going up 1-0 in the first inning courtesy of a run by Avilla. A single from Clemson’s Pereira in the second tied things up 1-1 with Taylor completing the run for the Tigers.

It was the third inning that was devastating for Virginia, as Clemson scored seven runs to put the game well out of reach. With Goodwin and Oda on base, Bonamy homered to right center resulting in three runs for the Tigers.

The onslaught did not stop there, as Cagle delivered the second knock-out blow with a home run of her own with the bases loaded to extend the lead 8-1.

After uneventful fourth and fifth innings, Virginia looked to make things closer in the sixth with Goldberg as the main contributor, advancing to third on a wild pitch and then scoring later on. 

McBride also scored courtesy of a Jennings single to pull the Cavaliers a bit closer, 8-3. 

However, that was the closest Virginia would get, as Clemson caught fire yet again in the bottom of the sixth. Taylor scored late to allow the Tigers to go up 9-3 followed by a three-run home run from Cagle, sealing the game with the final score being 12-3. 

James Madison

The Cavaliers battled it out with the Dukes (10-4, 0-0 CAA) Tuesday in what was a streaky match-up for both sides. 

The opening inning was a quiet one for James Madison. Despite getting two players on a base with a steal of second base by junior infielder Sara Jubas, the Dukes were stopped in their tracks as Virginia forced a ground out. 

In the bottom of the second, sophomore catcher Ashley Jennings sparked the team with a double to left field, opening the door for sophomore Arizona Ritchie to score, putting Virginia up 1-0.

The Dukes came close to tying it up in the third, as senior outfielder Kate Gordon appeared to have the opportunity to score, but was forced out at home plate.

The Cavaliers capitalized and expanded their lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the third. Sophomore outfielder Tori Gilbert singled to left field leading to a score from freshman infielder Katie Goldberg. 

With the bases loaded for the Dukes in the fifth, junior infielder Hannah File singled up the middle, allowing for runs to be scored by Jubas and Gordon. The Dukes took the lead 5-2 with three more runs, including one from junior outfielder Logan Newton. 

Another scoring run for James Madison in the top of the sixth inning proved to put things out of reach with the team’s momentum continuing to roll. The onslaught began with a single from Jubas who managed to score right away, extending the Dukes’ lead further to 6-2. 

With senior infielder Madison Naujokas up to bat, the infielder tripled to center field resulting in scores for File and Newton. Naujokas later scored on a wild pitch to push the lead further to 9-2. 

Yet again, the Cavaliers struggled to find a response, as three quick outs in the bottom of the sixth proved that the deficit was insurmountable.

The game concluded in a 10-3 victory for James Madison, a disappointing performance for the Cavaliers in their first-ever appearance at Palmer Park. 

Virginia will have its chance for redemption this upcoming weekend, as the Cavaliers face rival Virginia Tech in a three-game series at home. The game is set to begin at 4 p.m. Friday at Palmer Park. 

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