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Virginia softball sweeps its series at Boston College behind three close wins

The Cavaliers swept consecutive three-game ACC series for the first time in their history

<p>Virginia stayed hot in conference play this weekend, sweeping the Eagles over three games it controlled all the way through.</p>

Virginia stayed hot in conference play this weekend, sweeping the Eagles over three games it controlled all the way through.

Virginia softball played Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. this past weekend, winning all three games. Despite all three being close matchups, the Cavaliers (21-12, 8-1 ACC) were able to prevail over the Eagles (14-14, 2-7 ACC) and rise to second place in the conference standings.

Virginia won the first game Friday 5-3. The Cavaliers put up two runs in the first two innings. Senior outfielder Tori Gilbert hit a home run in the first, and a single by sophomore infielder Abby Weaver in the second inning brought home junior infielder Katie Goldberg, who reached base on an error.

Boston College was able to counter with runs of its own in the second and fourth innings to tie the game 2-2. Virginia scored three more runs in the seventh inning to take the lead and would ultimately hold on for the rest of the game. Junior infielder Gabby Baylog hit a two-RBI double to drive home redshirt freshman outfielder Lauren VanAssche and senior infielder Emma McBride. A sacrifice fly by sophomore catcher Leah Boggs then brought home the third and final score for Virginia, making the slate 5-2.

Although the Eagles had a home run in the bottom of the seventh inning, Virginia was able to hold on to win.

Sophomore pitcher Mikayla Houge came in relief for senior right-hander Aly Rayle, throwing two strikeouts and allowing five hits and two runs through six innings of work. 

Saturday, Virginia once again bested Boston College, coming away with a 5-2 victory. This time, the Cavaliers led the whole game, opening with two runs in the first inning off a two-RBI single by Goldberg. Gilbert singled in the fourth inning to bring another run in what would be a strong weekend for her, with three RBI on the series. The Eagles scored two runs over the course of the fourth and fifth innings to bring the score to 3-2, but Virginia scored two more runs in the seventh inning to extend their lead and bring the final tally to 5-2 in the second match.

In relief of starter junior pitcher Mackenzie Wooten, sophomore left-hander Savanah Henley got the win, pitching 3.2 innings and allowing four hits and two runs. Sophomore right-hander Madison Harris was credited with a save after striking out two batters and allowing no hits through the final 1.1 innings.

Virginia closed out the series Sunday with a close 6-5 win. Gilbert hit a home run in the first inning to put the Cavaliers on the board, but the Eagles responded in the bottom of the first to tie the game 1-1.

Virginia then took the lead back in the third inning, exploding for four runs. Freshman utility player Sarah Coon had an RBI double, and Goldberg hit a three-run home run to bring the score to 5-1. The Cavaliers extended their lead in the fourth inning with a double by Weaver to drive home VanAssche.

Boston College scored four runs in the sixth inning to put the pressure on Virginia, powered by a two-RBI single by senior infielder Kennedy Labshere and a home run by senior catcher Gianna Boccagno. The Cavalier defense and pitching held on in the bottom of the seventh inning, though, allowing Virginia to sweep the series.

Houge was credited with the win, giving up nine hits and four runs and striking out three in five innings. Harris picked up her second save of the series, striking out one batter and allowing two hits and one run through two innings pitched in relief.

The Cavaliers have earned their best conference start in program history after going 8-1 in ACC play so far, surpassing their 7-2 start in 2010. They have also made history by sweeping two three-game ACC series in a row, which the team had not accomplished before.

“That’s a tough Boston College team and I’m proud we stayed poised and persistent to grind it out,” Coach Joanna Hardin said. “[Senior infielder] Arizona Ritchie came up with a huge play at the end … We put a lot of pride and effort in our defense and made some great plays today. The wins are the result of a lot of work and diligence.”

Virginia will next face Longwood at home Tuesday. The game will start at 5 p.m. and be broadcast on ACCNX.