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Virginia softball splits opening two games

The Cavaliers were able able to bounce back from a season-opening loss Saturday against Georgia and secure their first win against South Alabama

The Cavaliers (1-1, 0-0 ACC) opened up their season Feb. 13 in Athens, Ga. as they faced off against Georgia (2-1, 0-0 SEC) and South Alabama (1-2, 0-0 SUN). Though Virginia was originally scheduled to play each team twice in the Red & Black Showcase, the final two games were canceled due to severe weather.

Game 1 - Virginia 2, Georgia 5

The Cavaliers faceoff against Georgia was the team’s first competitive match since March 2020. Virginia started strong and got on the board in the first inning.

With two outs already on the board, junior catcher Donna Friedman was able to blast a homerun into left field. As the RBI and batting average leader last season, it was no surprise to see her secure the first run of the Cavaliers’ season. 

The game was then scoreless until the fourth inning, when the Bulldogs came out firing. Sophomore infielder Sara Mosley was able to land her pinch runner, freshman outfielder Hayley Eaton, onto second base. Georgia was able to get onto the scoreboard right after, courtesy of a triple from freshman outfielder Sydney Chambley.

While the Bulldogs were in good position to score again, Virginia’s defense held on for the rest of the inning without giving up another run. The next inning, however, would be very different.

After failing to record a hit on the offensive end, the Cavaliers began their defensive possession by replacing sophomore pitcher Molly Grube with freshman pitcher Madison Harris. The Bulldogs responded by netting four runs on the back of two Virginia errors. Chambley was able to secure two more RBIs this inning, giving her three total on the day. Two of the four runs scored by Georgia were unearned, highlighting the frustrating errors suffered by the Cavaliers in a close game.

Playing from behind, Virginia came out of the sixth inning swinging, immediately getting offense from senior outfielder Kate Covington as she was able to secure her pinch runner, freshman catcher Leah Boggs, onto second base. Boggs took advantage of her time on base, managing to get to third on a passed ball and eventually adding points to the scoreboard, following a wild pitch by Bulldog graduate pitcher Mary Wilson Avant. 

It seemed as if the Cavaliers were mounting a potential comeback, as they were able to secure a runner on each base. However, Avant was able to squash the hopes of Virginia, striking out their final two hitters and leaving three runners on base as the inning came to a close.

The game would finish without a further score from either team, and Georgia was able to hold on and hand Virginia its first loss of the season 5-2.

Game 2 - Virginia 9, South Alabama 4

The Cavaliers were able to get on the scoreboard quickly again, producing two runs in the first inning. Sophomore infielder Katie Goldberg hit a homerun early with junior outfielder Bailey Winscott already on base after she was walked.

The Jaguars fired right back, with sophomore catcher Kassidy Wilcox getting her pinch runner, junior outfielder Caroline Nichols, onto first base. Nichols was then able to steal to second. Sophomore outfielder Shelby Sloan got South Alabama onto the scoreboard with a double, as Nichols was able to get to home. Right after, senior outfielder Amanda Flynn was able to repeat Sloan’s success and hit a double as well, sending Sloan to home plate and tying up the game. 

Virginia was able to escape the inning without giving up another run.

The Cavaliers broke the deadlock and regained the lead in the fourth inning. Junior catcher Ashley Jennings was able to send her pinch runner, junior infielder Emma McBride, to second base. McBride was then able to advance to third on a passed ball and was able to add points onto the scoreboard following a wild pitch.

South Alabama, again, came roaring right back. Junior infielder Meredith Keel started the inning off with a triple. Following a Virginia pitching change, which brought on sophomore Mackenzie Wooten, Jaguar junior infielder Belle Wolfenden hit a single, securing the RBI as Keel got back to home plate. After three singles, Calderon found herself on home plate as well, giving South Alabama back the lead. 

The sixth inning would see the most productive offensive inning for the Cavaliers this season. After getting on base with a single, junior outfielder Tori Gilbert was able to tie the game up after junior infielder Arizona Ritchie hit a single. The bases were then loaded up, with Covington at bat. Covington did the unthinkable, sending the ball into the stands and securing a grand slam for Virgina, completely changing the tide of the game. Adding even more scoring, Goldberg was also able to secure a run later in the inning. Even with six runs scored this inning, the Cavaliers still left three runners on base.

Virginia would hold on after an explosive sixth inning to win the game 9-4.

The Cavaliers will look to add to their last offensive showing as they travel to Raleigh, N.C. to face off against Louisville Feb. 18 at 1:30 p.m.