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Softball struggles to get wins in past two series on the road

Virginia split its series with North Carolina but was swept the following weekend by Notre Dame

<p>With a limited number of games and series remaining in the season, the Virginia softball team will be looking to string together multiple wins.</p>

With a limited number of games and series remaining in the season, the Virginia softball team will be looking to string together multiple wins.

North Carolina

Game One – Friday, April 9 at 4 p.m.

Virginia was able to get the first win of the series against North Carolina at Williams Field Friday afternoon. The Cavaliers (13-25, 9-20 ACC) got to work early in the first inning. Freshman right fielder Abby Weaver was in the leadoff spot for Virginia and was walked. After a fly-out, sophomore shortstop Katie Goldberg homered to center field, giving the Cavaliers the early lead 2-0.

The Cavaliers were able to score again in the second inning thanks to an RBI by junior infielder Emma McBride. North Carolina (12-19, 8-13 ACC) was able to answer. Leadoff hitter junior first baseman Kiersten Licea got a single. The Tar Heels were able to score two runs off of Virginia errors – a fielding error followed by a throwing error.

Going into the sixth inning the score was 4-3 Virginia – the Tar Heels had struggled offensively for a couple of innings. With two outs, freshman pitcher Mikayla Houge hit a Tar Heel batter. Licea was back up to bat and got a double out to right field, which allowed the hit batter to score. North Carolina tied the game going into the seventh inning.

Virginia wasted no time getting back the lead. Weaver reached first on a fielding error and was able to advance to second on a wild pitch. Weaver then moved to third on a bunt. The Cavaliers had a runner 60 feet from home plate with Goldberg up to bat. Goldberg was able to get a single, which allowed the runner to advance home, scoring what would be the winning run.

Virginia went on to win game one 5-4.

Game Two – Saturday, April 10 at 12 p.m.

The second game of the series was dominated by North Carolina’s offense. Virginia was unable to score until the fifth inning, but the Tar Heels got things started in the first inning with a triple from freshman infielder Kiannah Pierce. A deep pop up allowed her to run home, giving North Carolina the early lead.

In the second inning, the score went to 2-0 after sophomore second baseman Dominique Monteon went yard. It was her first home run of the season. The Tar Heels continued their hot streak into the third inning. A throwing error got a Tar Heel runner in scoring position with Pierce up to bat. She got a double that brought the run home.

Virginia decided to make a pitching change to sophomore Mackenzie Wooten, hoping to slow the Tar Heel offense. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, the change did not cool off their bats. Wooten walked the first batter. Fifth-year first baseman Campbell Hutcherson singled up the middle allowing the runner to score. North Carolina was winning 4-0 after the third inning.

The Cavaliers were able to get some points on the board in the fifth inning. Junior center fielder Bailey Winscott got a single with two outs. Next, Weaver was able to reach first on a fielding error, moving Winscott into scoring position. A single to left field allowed Winscott to score.

The Tar Heels blew the game wide open in the sixth inning. With two outs, North Carolina was able to score three runs. Monteon got things rolling with a single. Then, freshman middle infielder Kayla Baptista pinch ran home for Monteon after a double from junior catcher Taylor Puetz. Fifth-year pinch hitter Brittany Pickett hit an absolute bomb over the right field fence, taking the score to 7-1.

The Cavaliers scored two runs late in the seventh inning thanks to a two-run home run from Weaver. However, it was not enough to win the game. North Carolina took the second game of the series 7-3.

Game Three – Sunday, April 11 at 12 p.m.

On a breezy Sunday afternoon, Virginia and North Carolina met for the final two games of the weekend series. Both games were full of impressive offense from both teams.

In the first game, the Tar Heels dominated in the batter’s box. Just like in game two, North Carolina scored in the first inning. With two outs, the Tar Heels managed three runs. Senior center fielder Kristina Burkhardt got things started with a single and was able to advance to second on a passed ball. 

After the next batter was walked, Hutcherson doubled, bringing in one run. A throwing error allowed two more runs.

Virginia fought back in the third inning. Freshman catcher Leah Boggs and Weaver both got singles. A bunt brought one run home with runners at second and third. Goldberg singled but was able to advance to third, and McBride and Weaver brought two runs home. A groundout allowed Goldberg to score, taking the score to 4-5 North Carolina.

While the Cavaliers had an impressive early game comeback, North Carolina blew the game open in the sixth inning. Going into the inning the Tar Heels were winning 8-4. Pierce started North Carolina at bat with a double, advancing to third on a flyout. A batter was hit, which put a runner on the bases with Hutcherson up to bat. Hutcherson went yard, scoring two three for the Tar Heels and taking the score to 11-5.

Virginia was able to score one run in the seventh inning, but it was not enough to defeat the Tar Heels. North Carolina took game three 11-6.

Game Four – Sunday, April 11 at 3 p.m.

The final game of the series was just as action-packed as the previous three games.

The Tar Heels got off to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but that lead did not last long. The Virginia offense came alive in the second inning. Junior designated player Rachel Keshin and junior second baseman Arizona Ritchie both got singles to start the inning. They were able to advance bases on a throwing error. Boggs reached base on a fielder’s choice, which allowed two runners to go home as she was later able to score on a groundout by Weaver. 

With only one out, McBride got to second base with Goldberg up to bat. Goldberg hit a home run over the left field fence, scoring two runs. With two outs on the board, senior infielder Katie Covington earned a solo home run. The score at the end of the inning was 6-1.

Over the next several innings, the Tar Heels were able to make a comeback, getting the score back to within three after the sixth inning. However, the Cavaliers switched pitchers, putting in freshman Madison Harrison. She was able to shut down the North Carolina offense, holding the score to 8-5.

Virginia had a great offensive showing this weekend. The Cavaliers had a total of 29 hits, with many different players thriving at the plate. Virginia’s pitching struggled to find footing at certain points during the series.

Notre Dame

Game One – Friday, April 16 at 5 p.m.

On a chilly Friday afternoon in South Bend, Ind., Virginia lost the first game of the weekend series to Notre Dame 7-1.

The Fighting Irish (22-12, 13-10 ACC) took an early lead in the first inning. Senior outfielder Abby Sweet got things started for Notre Dame with a single, later stealing second base. Graduate student second baseman Katie Marino was able to bring Sweet home with an RBI double.

Virginia’s only score came in the third inning, thanks to multiple errors from the Fighting Irish. Ritchie reached second base on a throwing error and was able to advance to third on a groundout. Weaver got a single that allowed Ritchie to score.

The Cavaliers struggled offensively because of Notre Dame’s pitching. Junior Payton Tidd had a great day in the pitching circle. She held Virginia to the one run, had five strikeouts and only allowed three hits.

Notre Dame blew the game wide open in the fifth inning. After the top of the fifth, the Fighting Irish were only winning 2-1. Virginia decided to make a pitching change, switching from sophomore Molly Grube to Harris. She was not in the game long – she hit the first batter, walked the next and then allowed an RBI double. 

Coach Joanna Hardin opted to go back to Grube. She walked the first batter, making the bases loaded. Over the course of the inning, Grube allowed three RBIs. The Fighting Irish were winning 6-1.

Notre Dame scored another run in the sixth inning, which was the final run of the game. The Fighting Irish took the first game of the series 7-1.

Game Two – Saturday April 17 at 1 p.m.

Virginia lost the first game of the Saturday doubleheader 3-6 despite having a decent offensive showing.

The Cavaliers did not have big run innings, rather they scored their three runs in three different innings. They got their first run at the top of the first inning. Weaver and Goldberg got things rolling with a pair of singles. A walked batter got the bases loaded. Covington grounded out, but it allowed Weaver to score.

The fourth inning was a turning point in the game. Virginia scored another run at the top of the inning. Keshin reached first on a fielding error. Junior Tori Gilbert came in to pinch run for Keshin. Gilbert advanced to second on a wild pitch then advanced to third on an SAC bunt. Boggs had an RBI pop-up. Virginia was winning 2-0.

The Fighting Irish fought back in the bottom of the inning. Marino started the run off with a home run. Freshman designated player Karina Gaskins got on base with a single. A well-placed ball up the right side by sophomore left fielder Leea Hanks got runners at first and third. 

Freshman third baseman Cassidy Grimm reached on a fielder’s choice, allowing a runner to score and another to advance to third base. A groundout allowed another runner to score. The fourth and final run of the inning came from an RBI double from graduate student shortstop Chelsea Purcell. Notre Dame took the lead 4-2.

Virginia would score another run in the following inning, but once again the Fighting Irish answered at the bottom of the inning with two more runs. Notre Dame won the game 6-3.

Game Three – Saturday, April 17 at 3 p.m.

The second game of the day was a pitching showdown. There were no points on the board until the fifth inning. Tidd was pitching again for the Fighting Irish. She was able to hold Virginia to only five hits, four of which came from Weaver and sophomore first baseman Gabby Baylog. Junior Aly Rayle pitched for the Cavaliers and was dominant until the seventh inning.

Virginia got a run across the place first. In the fifth inning Bogg and Weaver both had singles. An SAC bunt allowed them both to advance bases. A high fly-out allowed Bogg to score. The Cavaliers scored their final score in the sixth inning from a solo home run from Baylog.

The Fighting Irish also had a solo home run in the sixth inning by Marino. However, Notre Dame really came alive in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs. Junior pinch hitter Quinn Biggio and Sweet both got singles. 

Both were able to advance bases on a throwing error. Another single allowed one run to score tying the game. Sweet advanced to third. Rayle walked the next batter, loading the bases. A wild pitch allowed Sweet to score. The Fighting Irish won 3-2.

Game Four – Sunday, April 18 at 12 p.m.

In their final day in South Bend, the Cavaliers were looking to avoid the sweep.

Virginia got points on the board first in the first inning. Goldberg was up to bat first and was walked. She advanced to second on an SAC bunt from Ritchie. Goldberg was able to score off of an RBI triple from Baylog that was hit deep to center field. It was the only run scored by the Cavaliers all day.

Notre Dame had a decent day offensively, finishing the game with seven hits. Going into the third inning, the game was tied 1-1. With two outs, Marino was walked. She advanced to second on a wild pitch. Gaskins then hit a bomb over the right field wall, making the score 3-1.

The Fighting Irish scored two more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning with an RBI double from Marino and an RBI single from Hanks. The final score was 5-1. Notre Dame swept the series.

Virginia returns to Charlottesville after two weekends away to face Radford Tuesday evening at 6 p.m.