Virginia softball traveled to Greensboro, N.C. Thursday, where they beat UNC Greensboro by a score of 6-2. The Cavaliers (5-2, 0-0 ACC) broke the game open early with a three-run home run by freshman utility player Mary Caroline Eaton to set the pace in the first inning.
Freshman infielder Jade Hylton got the game started in the top of the first with a leadoff single and stolen base. Senior infielder Katie Goldberg followed up Hylton with a walk. After a strikeout, Eaton stepped to the plate and launched a 3-1 pitch to score herself and her two teammates.
Next, graduate student utility player Tori Gilbert reached on an error and subsequently stole a base. Gilbert advanced to third on a single from senior infielder Gabby Baylog. Junior catcher Leah Boggs was hit by a pitch to load the bases with just one out. A sacrifice fly from sophomore outfielder Kailyn Jones plated Gilbert, but a strikeout ended the inning before any further damage to the Spartans (3-3, 0-0 SoCon) could be done.
From there, it was senior pitcher Molly Grube’s game. Grube tossed four no-hit innings, cruising through the Spartans’ lineup with ease until the fifth inning. UNC Greensboro finally picked up a run with a home run from freshman pitcher Salem Ward to break up the no-hitter. Graduate student pitcher Jenny Bressler came in to relieve Grube after 4.2 innings and retired the side.
No more action occurred until the Cavaliers brought two more runners in to score in the seventh inning. Sophomore utility player Sarah Coon knocked a single that scored junior outfielder Lauren Vanassche and Hylton.
The Cavaliers held a 6-1 advantage heading into the bottom of the seventh. Bressler nearly closed out the game without yielding a run. However, an out away from a Virginia victory, Spartan senior infielder Maycin Brown added a solo home run for the Spartans to make it 6-2. Bressler walked two more batters, adding intrigue to an otherwise comfortable game for the Cavaliers. However, she recovered by striking out the final batter in four pitchers to secure the victory.
Grube earned the win, allowing only one run on two hits and two strikeouts with three walks in 4.2 innings pitched. Bressler was credited with her first save of the season allowing one run on two hits with four walks and four strikeouts in 2.1 innings of play.
Eaton’s home run was her team-leading fourth of the season. She also has an impressive 10 RBIs. Hylton continues to impress as a freshman addition to the team, scoring five times in six games. Along with her speed and base-stealing abilities, she has certainly shown she deserves the leadoff spot in a talented lineup. Eaton and Hylton have been key contributors to this 5-2 start, the best to the start of a Cavaliers season since 2002.
“The four-spot in the first inning really set us off and put us in a good spot,” Coach Joanna Hardin said. “Our pitchers are doing a great job, we’re scoring some runs and that’s good going into a weekend when we are going to be challenged.”
Virginia continues on the road with four games at the ACC/Big Ten challenge in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Cavaliers will face off against both Maryland and Minnesota twice Friday to Saturday.