Virginia softball traveled to Greensboro, N.C. to compete in the UNCG Invitational this past weekend. The Cavaliers (9-6, 0-0 ACC) got wins against Towson, Bucknell and Loyola Chicago but were unable to defeat North Carolina Greensboro despite hitting three home runs.
Friday against Towson (1-11, 0-0 CAA) Virginia put up an impressive performance. The Cavaliers started out strong with three runs in the first inning, with hits by redshirt freshman outfielder Lauren VanAssche and freshman utility player Sarah Coon followed by a home run by sophomore catcher Leah Boggs. They put up three more runs over the course of the second and third innings.
The Tigers were able to score two runs in the fourth inning to make the score 6-2, but Virginia responded in the fifth inning with four runs after a double by freshman utility player Kelly Ayer. The Cavaliers won 10-2 after just five innings. Sophomore pitcher Mikayla Houge had five strikeouts and gave up two runs.
For its second game Friday, Virginia faced off against Bucknell (2-10, 0-0 Patriot League), winning against the Bison 5-1. The Cavaliers again started the game strong with three runs in the first inning. Junior infielder Katie Goldberg had a two-run homer and Coon scored off a single by Boggs. Junior utility player Chase Knapp had a home run for Bucknell in the third inning, but Virginia scored in both the third and fourth innings to solidify its lead.
The Cavaliers defeated the Tigers again Saturday, coming away with a 12-4 victory after five innings. After two innings Virginia had the lead 3-2. Towson got two runs in the fifth inning from a single by sophomore shortstop Mackenzie Lake to take the lead 4-2. However, Virginia countered with nine runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take command of the game. The Cavaliers were powered by two doubles from Coon, singles by Ayer and freshman infielder Reece Holbrook and walks by VanAssche and senior outfielder Tori Gilbert. Coon finished with four RBI.
Virginia closed out the second day of the tournament with a decisive 8-0 win over Loyola Chicago. The Ramblers (4-5, 0-0 MVC) had just two hits and were unable to generate offense against the strong Cavalier defense and pitching by Houge, who finished with five strikeouts.
Virginia scored one run in the first inning off singles by Coon and Boggs, followed by two runs in the third and one in the sixth. In the seventh inning, the Cavaliers put up four runs to solidify their victory. Sophomore infielder Abby Weaver doubled and Ayer singled to drive in two runs, while a fielding error and wild pitch led to two other unearned runs. The strong seventh inning for Virginia sealed the win.
The Cavaliers closed the weekend Sunday against UNCG. Virginia took an early lead, but the Spartans (9-4, 0-0 SoCon) scored five runs in the third inning and the Cavaliers were never able to overcome the deficit.
Virginia opened the game with home runs by VanAssche and Coon to take the lead 2-0 in the first inning. However, the UNCG offense exploded in the third inning to give the Spartans a 5-2 lead. A single by senior catcher Delaney Cumbie and doubles by junior outfielder Blayke Batten and freshman outfielder Grace Loftin put UNCG on top. Graduate student outfielder Makenna Matthijs hit a home run in the bottom of the fourth inning to increase the Spartan lead. The Cavaliers fought back in the fifth inning with a single by Coons and a home run by Goldberg, but it ultimately wasn’t enough to come out on top.
UNCG junior pitcher Morgan Scott pitched a complete game, giving up five hits and finishing with five strikeouts to get the win. Houge took the loss for Virginia at the mound, her first of the season, after giving up three runs and four hits.
“This game really came down to a few key moments,” Coach Joanna Hardin said. “We had multiple opportunities to put the game out of reach and we didn’t execute … There were a lot of positives in the game – getting four runs on three home runs is huge. As we continue to mature and grow, our at bats will be of higher quality in key moments.”
Coon leads the team with a .455 batting average, a .841 slugging percentage and 20 hits. On the pitching side, Houge is 5-1 and has an ERA of 2.37.
Virginia will next play Liberty in Lynchburg Tuesday, followed by a trip to Knoxville this upcoming weekend for the Tennessee Softball Tournament.