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Virginia softball wins three games, loses two at Tennessee Invitational

The Cavaliers were unable to take down the Volunteers either chance they got

<p>The Cavaliers put together a solid weekend as they prepare for ACC play.</p>

The Cavaliers put together a solid weekend as they prepare for ACC play.

Virginia traveled to Knoxville, Tenn. this past weekend to play in the Tennessee Invitational against South Alabama, Tennessee and Dartmouth.

On Friday, the Cavaliers (12-9, 0-0 ACC) had plenty of exciting action. Their first game of the day was a 6-4 win over South Alabama.

Virginia jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning after redshirt freshman left fielder Lauren VanAssche scored on a throwing error, while freshman third baseman Sarah Coon and sophomore right fielder Leah Boggs both got home on groundout RBIs.  

Through three innings Virginia held South Alabama to zero runs. However, the Jaguars broke sophomore right-hander Mikayla Houge’s shutout bid in the top of the 4th inning with a solo shot coming from sophomore utility player Abby Allen, making it 3-1 Cavaliers. 

Houge got the start on the mound again, pitching 5.1 innings, giving up four hits and four earned runs.

After a scoreless fifth inning, South Alabama took the lead in a wild sixth inning, which saw junior catcher Kassidy Wilcox walk for the Jaguars with the bases loaded. In the very next at-bat, freshman second baseman Stephanie Gonzalez doubled to drive in two more runs, giving South Alabama a 4-3 lead.

The Cavaliers showed a great deal of fight, tying the game in the bottom of the sixth with a Boggs solo home run. And after keeping the Jaguars at bay in the top of the seventh, senior outfielder Tori Gilbert came in to pinch hit. Gilbert proceeded to launch a two-run walk-off home run to give the Cavaliers the win, 6-4.

Savannah Henley got the win in relief for Houge, improving to 3-4 on the season after throwing 1.2 scoreless innings and giving up just two hits.

Later on Friday, Virginia faced off against No. 18 Tennessee, the host of the tournament. In a tight game, the Cavaliers fell by a score of 5-7. Historically, the Cavaliers were 2-9 against Tennessee before this game, but this matchup was much closer and more well-fought than previous ones. 

The Cavaliers grabbed an early 1-0 lead off of another Boggs home run in the top of the first, only to see the Volunteers put up two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. 

However, Virginia fought right back, scoring three times in the top of the second to make it 4-2. Senior outfielder Bailey Winscott hit an RBI single, Coon was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and Boggs grounded out but drove Winscott in for the fourth run.

Yet Tennessee had responses of their own, scoring two runs and then three runs in the third and fourth innings, respectively. Sophomore infielder Zaida Puni hit a two-run home run in the third, while graduate student outfielder Amanda Ayala hit an RBI double and sophomore catcher Rylie West tripled to bring Ayala home in the fourth, making the lead 7-4 for Tennessee. 

After being held scoreless through the third, fourth and fifth innings, the Cavaliers got a run back after a solo home run from junior infielder Gabby Baylog to cut the deficit to 5-7. Unfortunately for Virginia, that would be the end of the scoring.

Henley suffered the loss, after throwing 2.2 innings and giving up five earned runs on seven hits. Graduate left-hander Erin Edmoundson threw 4.1 innings, surrendering just one earned run on four hits and got the win for the Volunteers, improving to 7-1 on the year.

On Saturday, Virginia won both games, beating Dartmouth 3-0 and taking down South Alabama 5-3.

In their first game against Dartmouth, it was a battle of pitching, as only one run was scored until the seventh inning. Senior catcher Donna Friedman hit an RBI flyout in the second to give Virginia a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the seventh, VanAssche hit a two-run shot to seal the win for the Cavaliers, putting the score at 3-0.

Senior right-hander Aly Rayle was on fire on the mound. Rayle threw six shutout innings, including nine strikeouts, only giving up one hit and walking just two batters. She got the win for Virginia, improving to 2-1 on the season.

In their second matchup against South Alabama, the Cavaliers were victorious yet again. And this one may have been the most explosive win all tournament long. Every run the Cavaliers scored came from a home run.

Boggs got the home run party going in the first inning, scoring Coon and herself to make it 2-0. In the third inning, Virginia was on fire. Junior infielder Katie Goldberg, Gilbert and Baylog hit back-to-back-to-back solo home runs, extending the lead 5-0 Virginia. That was the first time the Cavaliers had hit three straight home runs since 2015 against Longwood.

The Jaguars hit a couple home runs of their own in the sixth and seventh innings to cut the lead to 5-3, but Virginia ultimately held on for the win. 

Houge got the win to get to 6-2 this season, while sophomore right-hander Olivia Lackie suffered the loss for South Alabama after pitching just 2.2 innings but giving up four earned runs.

The tournament finale for the Cavaliers came against Tennessee on Sunday afternoon. It was a tough loss as the Cavaliers were looking for revenge, but were blanked by the Volunteers 5-0. 

Virginia was able to put up six hits compared to Tennessee’s 10, but the Volunteers used a four run fourth inning to win the game while Virginia couldn’t bring any of those runners home. 

Graduate infielder Ivy Davis hit an RBI single to make it 1-0 after the second inning. Then in the fourth, a pair of homers from freshman infielder Lair Beautae and junior outfielder Kiki Milloy made it 4-0 and 5-0 respectively. That was more than enough to secure the win for Tennessee.

Senior infielder Arizona Ritchie went 2-for-3 for Virginia on the day, but that was the lone offensive high note. 

Edmoundson got her ninth win of the year for Tennessee, pitching a complete shutout game with seven strikeouts. Houge threw 3.2 innings but was pulled in the fourth after Milloy’s solo home run. She had five earned runs and seven hits, while also throwing a pair of strikeouts. Houge fell to 6-3 on the year for the Cavaliers.

This was overall a good tournament showing for Virginia. Despite two losses, both at the hands of Tennessee, they competed well with the Volunteers and proved they can hang with top-25 teams. The Cavaliers will continue to look for consistent play as the ACC slate of their season begins soon.

The Cavaliers face Maryland in Charlottesville on Tuesday before their opening home series against Notre Dame this weekend, featuring games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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