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Virginia softball takes two of three games over Boston College to start ACC play

The Cavaliers made necessary changes and came out on top for their first conference series of the season

<p>Sophomore pitcher Eden Bigham hurled two complete games for the Cavaliers this weekend, allowing just five hits and one run between them.</p>

Sophomore pitcher Eden Bigham hurled two complete games for the Cavaliers this weekend, allowing just five hits and one run between them.

Following a home sweep in the Rawlings Classic last weekend, Virginia softball faced Boston College at Palmer Park for the team’s first ACC gameplay of the season. The Cavaliers (13-5, 2-1 ACC) came back with a fire under them after being defeated by the Eagles (10-7, 1-2 ACC) in the opener Friday afternoon, walking away with a series victory after winning their games both Saturday and Sunday. 

Game 1 — Virginia 0, Boston College 1

Both the Cavaliers and the Eagles fought hard Friday, neither of them giving the other much ground. Virginia had a chance to score in the first inning — junior first baseman Sarah Coon had made it to third — however none of the following hits gave her a chance to run home, ending the first inning 0-0. 

In the top of the second inning, Boston College was able to make a move with a run scored by junior outfielder Jordan Stephens after freshman infielder Emma Jackson hit a single up the middle. The Cavaliers did not let the Eagles’ early run affect their defense though, as that was the only run Boston College was able to score for the entire game. 

Both team’s pitchers — Virginia’s sophomore Eden Bigham and Boston College’s junior Abby Dunning — hardly allowed their opponents to get a hit. The two pitchers only allowed one hit and each throughout the game, combining to strike out 15 batters.

The game was therefore extremely low-scoring, with both the fourth and seventh innings resulting in no players from either team getting onto the bases. Neither team was able to get a chance to score again — no player got past second base after the second inning, and the Cavaliers fell 1-0 to begin the series. Coach Joanna Hardin was critical of her team’s approach at the plate following the shutout defeat.

“The name of the game is execution,” Hardin said. “Boston College did their part and we didn’t. We have to come back tomorrow and ensure we’re swinging with confidence in the box.”

Game 2 — Virginia 8, Boston College 2

The Cavaliers didn’t begin their game Saturday as strongly as they had hoped — by the end of the third inning the Eagles were ahead 2-0. Boston College acted quickly and confidently from the beginning, scoring their first run early on in the first inning. With players on first and second bases, the Eagles were able to score when graduate outfielder Jules Shields singled up the middle, with the Cavaliers unable to get it under control quickly. Virginia’s fielding error allowed Boston College’s senior third baseman Nicole Giery to make it home, scoring the first run of the game. 

The Eagles were able to score again in the top of the third inning, and after that the Cavaliers started making their move. Senior center fielder Leah Boggs stole third in the bottom of the third inning, and while she was not able to score a run before the inning ended, Virginia clearly gained confidence.

The following inning saw a complete change in energy from the Cavaliers as they scored a whopping eight runs. This fast-paced scoring was initiated by a run batted in by sophomore first baseman Mary Caroline Eaton, which allowed freshman infielder Bella Cabral to run from second base to score Virginia’s first run of the weekend. Speaking about the fourth inning, Hardin highlighted Cabral’s energy as the key to her team’s display.

“Bella Cabral, what a spark plug,” Hardin said. “She got that leadoff double and her energy and fight lit up the whole dugout. That was the spark we needed, and it was great to see.”

Right after the initial run, the Cavaliers quickly loaded the bases and set themselves up to score seven more times in the fourth inning. This inning was the highest scoring inning Virginia has had this season, allowing them to walk away with an 8-2 victory Saturday afternoon and set up a tiebreaker match Sunday.

Game 3 — Virginia 1, Boston College 0

With the series tied after the previous two days, both the Cavaliers and the Eagles walked onto the field ready to give their all Sunday. Once again, the pitchers from both teams worked beautifully to hold their opponents off — Bigham and Dunning were on the mound again, and each only allowed four hits throughout the game. 

The Eagles made Cavaliers fans nervous in the second inning as Jackson advanced to third base, but she was not given a chance to score. Virginia was not hitting its best for the first five innings, as no player advanced past second base and each inning ended after no more than four players up to bat. 

But the Cavaliers were able to bring it back in the bottom of the sixth inning. Boggs scored again after an RBI by sophomore infielder Jade Hylton, and Bigham continued her dominance on the mound to seal a 1-0 win for the Cavaliers.

“Jade Hylton came up with the timely hit, which is the opposite of what happened for us on Friday,” Hardin said. “We’re grinding it out and finding ways to win.”

Virginia’s display on the mound this weekend was nothing short of sensational, as the Cavaliers’ pitching allowed only three runs across 21 innings of work. The bats only came alive in one of three games, however, highlighting Virginia’s need to provide more run support for its pitchers as the season continues.

“Offensively we’re going to need to string things together and take some better at bats,” Hardin said. “The ACC is full of great arms.”

Currently ranked fifth in the ACC, the Cavaliers will hope to continue showcasing their skills as they go up against Longwood on the road Tuesday at 2 p.m. 


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