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Virginia softball’s Tuesday struggles continue in 5-2 loss to Longwood

The Cavaliers fell behind early and could not muster enough offense to make a comeback.

<p>Virginia simply could not find any offense for the first four innings, and its normally stout defense made a critical error to help put the game out of reach.</p>

Virginia simply could not find any offense for the first four innings, and its normally stout defense made a critical error to help put the game out of reach.

Virginia hosted Longwood on Tuesday at Palmer Park, looking to build on their season which has featured the best ACC start in program history, 8-1 through nine ACC games.

The Lancers (13-18, 6-13 Big South) had other ideas, however, and sprung an upset on the Cavaliers (21-13, 8-1 ACC), despite the home team being fresh off of their second consecutive ACC sweep this weekend.

Virginia has now lost four of their five Tuesday contests, beating Maryland earlier this season by a score of 10-2, but falling twice to Liberty and once each to Longwood and North Dakota State.

Longwood dominated the offensive side of the game, as they bested Virginia in the hit column by a nine to three margin. 

The Lancers immediately jumped on the Cavaliers at the start of the game, as sophomore utility player Kayley Devivi hit a two-run home run to make it 2-0. 

The score would hold at 2-0 throughout the second, third and fourth innings until Longwood built on their lead in the fifth. First, sophomore center-fielder Lauren Fox knocked an RBI single up the middle to bring senior second-baseman Mason Basdikis home and extend the Lancers’ lead to three.

Shortly after in the same inning, the Cavaliers — who came into the game with a .982 fielding percentage, good for fourth in the country — committed an error on which two Longwood baserunners scored, making the score 5-0. The Lancers’ senior catcher Alexis Wayland hit a single up the middle, but an overthrow saw Wayland advance to second base while also bringing Fox and freshman left-fielder Jaden Pone home.

Virginia tried to fight back, scoring on a Longwood error in the fifth to make it 5-1. The Cavaliers also scored in the seventh inning, as sophomore catcher Leah Boggs hit a sacrifice fly to bring in freshman utility-player Sarah Coon. 

Virginia loaded the bases after Coon scored, but Longwood graduate right-hander Sydney Backstrom escaped the last-ditch effort by the Cavaliers, pitching a complete game win for the Lancers and improving to 10-9 on the season. Backstrom gave up three hits and one earned run while striking out eight and walking four. 

For the Cavaliers, sophomore left-hander Savanah Henley suffered a loss after pitching the first two innings and giving up two earned runs. Henley also gave up two hits, throwing one strikeout and walking none. She falls to 6-6 on the season for Virginia.

Virginia will hopefully put this game in the past, as they have a monumental weekend series coming up. The Cavaliers will host No. 2 Florida State for a three-game series at Palmer Park, looking to continue their stellar ACC play.

This game will be a huge test for Virginia, facing by far their toughest foe yet. The Cavaliers are off to their strongest start in years, but they have not faced an opponent whose ranking on game day was higher than No. 18 — although some earlier opponents now rank higher than when they played the Cavaliers. The Seminoles boast the best overall record in the ACC, so the series will certainly be a pivotal point in the season for Virginia.

Friday’s game is set for 6 p.m., Saturday's game is set for 1 p.m. and the series finale will be at 12 p.m. on Sunday. Saturday’s game is the Strike Out Cancer game — where the first 150 UVA Cancer Center staff will receive a free concession voucher and spectators are encouraged to wear purple — and Sunday’s finale will be the Ticket Holder Appreciation Game. All three games will be streamed on ACCNX.