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No. 4 Virginia softball knocked out of ACC Tournament by No. 5 Clemson

The Cavaliers suffered a tough defeat from the Tigers in their first matchup of the ACC Tournament

<p>The Cavaliers allowed an uncharacteristic 10 hits and eight runs in their Thursday loss.</p>

The Cavaliers allowed an uncharacteristic 10 hits and eight runs in their Thursday loss.

Despite a series victory over Clemson earlier this season, Virginia softball fell short against the No. 5 Tigers (34-16, 15-9 ACC) in the ACC Quarterfinal Thursday in Durham, N.C. The No. 4 Cavaliers (32-18, 15-9 ACC) went behind early and never recovered, falling 8-1 in a disappointing loss.

The Tigers were at bat first and brought energy to the opening inning, quickly loading the bases. Senior outfielder McKenzie Clark scored the first run of the game on a single to left field from senior utility player Valerie Cagle. Cavalier fans were hopeful that Virginia was ready to bring a similar energy to the diamond with its own chances at the plate, but the team was held back by Clemson’s senior pitcher Recgan Spencer, who did not allow a run through three innings. 

A successful second inning for Clemson brought the score to 2-0, with the Cavaliers’ dry spell continuing until the bottom of the fourth inning. Action-packed from the first batter, senior utility player Abby Weaver was able to run home on a single from junior catcher Sarah Coon to bring the score to 2-1. 

It looked like the Cavaliers were going to bounce back from their sluggish start to the match, but the Tigers blew Virginia away in the fifth inning. The Cavaliers were simply unable to keep up defensively, committing two throwing errors and allowing four baserunners in the inning, as the Tigers were able to increase their lead to 5-1 by the time three outs were recorded.

Once again, Virginia was not able to use its at-bats to catch up to Clemson in the bottom of the fifth, and after neither team saw action in the sixth inning it did not look promising for the Cavaliers. In the seventh and final inning of Virginia’s season, the Tigers were able to score another three runs with two hits to extend the lead to 8-1, but when the Cavaliers stepped up to bat they were not able to put anyone on base. Senior utility player Leah Boggs’ pop out signaled the end of Virginia’s run, as the Cavaliers bowed out in the quarterfinal of the ACC Championship.

“It was a disappointing outing for us,” Coach Joanna Hardin said. “It’s a good test and reminder that you have to play your “A” game all of the time, especially in postseason softball. We’ll learn from it and get ready for the NCAA Tournament selection show on Sunday.”

With a total of three hits over the game, the Cavaliers were not able to bring their offense alive — a problem that has plagued Virginia throughout the season. While the team has scraped out many wins via the brilliance of their pitching, Thursday’s game saw a committee of three Cavalier pitchers — senior Madison Harris, sophomore Eden Bigham and sophomore Courtney Layne — who were unable to slow down the Tigers. 

With this loss, Virginia’s spot in the NCAA Tournament — and the fate of its season — remains undetermined. The team will learn whether or not they have a spot in the tournament Sunday night, when the NCAA Softball Selection show will air at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. 


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