Virginia’s softball team is gearing up for its season, which will kick off Feb. 10 away against Charlotte.
As Coach Joanna Hardin enters her sixth season leading the Cavaliers, her staff will be getting a boost from the likes of Mike Roberts, who has experience taking both Oregon in 2014 and Washington in 2017 to the Women’s College World Series semifinals.
Announced last July, Roberts will serve as associate head coach for Virginia. Roberts previously coached at Louisiana for three years as the pitching and infield coach.
Another key addition to the Cavaliers’ squad will be sophomore transfer Savannah Henley from Purdue. Henley is a left-handed pitcher who posted a 3.18 ERA her freshman year for the Boilermakers, while pitching a total of 72.2 innings from 22 total games, including 11 starts.
In terms of the returning roster, junior infielder Katie Goldberg will lead the Virginia offense after leading the team with 40 hits and 21 runs last season. Sophomore infielder Abby Weaver also looks to get more playing time in the batting order, as she hit .328 and slugged .433 last season, first and second on the team respectively.
On the pitching side of things, sophomore pitcher Mikayla Houge and senior pitcher Aly Rayle will look to have season performances similar to those of last year. Houge pitched a 3.42 ERA while Rayle led the team with a 3.16 ERA.
In the field, senior infielder Donna Friedman and graduate student catcher Ashley Jennings led the Cavaliers last season with a combined 360 putouts. Both will hope to bring the same defensive prowess in what may be their last season with Virginia.
The Cavaliers will appear in various tournaments before ACC play gets underway, featuring the South Carolina Softball Tournament starting Feb. 11, the Charleston Southern Softball Tournament starting Feb. 18, the UNCG Softball Tournament starting Feb. 25 and the Tennessee Softball Tournament starting March 4.
When Virginia reaches the ACC portion of their schedule, they’ll be up against many of the country’s best teams. Virginia has series at home versus Florida State and Duke, and a key series on the road against rival Virginia Tech. Preseason rankings for those teams include Florida State at No. 5, Duke at No. 15 and Virginia Tech at No. 12.
The Cavaliers’ first home game will be March 8 against Maryland. Streaming and first pitch time are yet to be announced.