For the second straight weekend, Virginia softball traveled to the state of South Carolina to compete in tournament play. This past weekend, the Cavaliers (5-5, 0-0 ACC) faced off against Sacred Heart and Charleston Southern at the CSU Buc Up Tournament.
On Friday, the Cavaliers split games, losing their first matchup against Sacred Heart 4-5 and winning their second game against Charleston Southern 4-1.
The Cavaliers went down two runs early against the Pioneers (2-3, 0-0 NEC), but after a four-run second inning, Virginia was back up 4-2. Powered by senior second baseman Arizona Ritchie’s two-run single, the Cavaliers seemed set up to continue their offensive success and win the first game.
But Sacred Heart fought back with a three-run third inning, taking a 5-4 lead over Virginia. Graduate student right-hander Sarah Lawton pitched a complete game for the Pioneers, recovering after the rocky second inning and throwing a shutout for the rest of the contest.
Later on Friday, the Cavaliers faced off against Charleston Southern, defeating the Buccaneers (3-6, 0-0 Big South) by a score of 4-1.
Again the Cavaliers went down early, giving up a run in the first inning to the Buccaneers. But sophomore right-hander Mikayla Houge hung tough for Virginia, only allowing one more hit for Charleston Southern for the rest of the game to secure the win for Virginia.
The Cavaliers got one run in the fourth inning, two in the sixth, and a final run in the seventh to close the game. Junior shortstop Katie Goldberg led the Cavaliers with two hits, while freshman utility player Sarah Coon continued to prove herself valuable to Virginia, driving in two runs.
On Saturday, Virginia split its pair of games again, this time beating Sacred Heart 9-4 but falling to Charleston Southern 2-5.
In their game against the Pioneers, the Cavaliers were led by Coon, who drove in four runs on two hits. Houge got her second start of the tournament but junior right-hander Mackenzie Wooten got the win in relief of Houge, allowing no earned runs and just three hits in 3.2 innings pitched.
Sacred Heart had five errors, which proved to be costly — the Pioneers gave up three runs to the Cavaliers on those errors alone. The other six runs came from three Pioneer pitchers who were used to try and slow Virginia down.
In their second game Saturday, the Cavaliers fell to Charleston Southern 2-5. While outhitting the Buccaneers eight to five, the Cavaliers couldn’t string together enough timely plays to put more than two runs on the board.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers hit a two-run home run and got an early 3-0 lead after the first inning.
After getting a run back in the third inning off of a Goldberg RBI single, the Cavaliers cut the deficit to two runs. But Charleston Southern fought right back with two runs in the fourth inning to make it a 5-1 ball game. Coon homered for Virginia in the sixth inning, marking her second collegiate home run, making it 2-5, but that was it for a very limited Cavalier rally.
After their doubleheader and second consecutive split of games on Saturday, Coach Joanna Hardin commented on the progress of this young Cavalier team.
“Our team is learning a lot about who we are as a team,” Hardin said. “As we become more consistent, we give ourselves a better opportunity to sustain desirable outcomes.”
In their finale on Sunday, the Cavaliers beat Sacred Heart 8-0 in five innings in a run-rule victory.
Houge improved to 3-0 on the season for the Cavaliers, coming in for relief of junior right-hander Molly Grube. Houge allowed no hits or walks through 2.1 innings pitched.
For the offense, Goldberg hit three RBI on two hits, also scoring two runs of her own. Five runs in the second inning, one in the third, and two in the fourth made it 8-0 for Virginia. After getting the final three outs in the top of the fifth, Virginia won on mercy rule and did not hit in the bottom of the fifth.
Goldberg and Coon are becoming clear offensive leaders for the Cavaliers. Meanwhile, Houge hasn’t lost yet after going 3-0 in her decisions. The Cavaliers will resume play next weekend at the UNCG Invitational at University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Their first games are on Friday, first against Towson at noon, then Bucknell at 5 p.m.