CONWAY, S.C. – Jessica Everhart blasted a walk-off, three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to help salvage a split for the Virginia Tech softball team on the second day of the Kickin’ Chicken Classic. The Hokies opened the day with a tough 4-3 loss to Western Carolina but rebounded to beat Appalachian State 5-4 in extra innings.
In the opener, the Hokies battled back to tie things up late, but an error allowed Western Carolina to escape with a 4-3 win. WCU scored quickly in the first on a double and single and then plated two more runs in the third inning to make it 3-0. In the fourth, Charisse Mariconda led off with a double and came around to score on Kristen Froehlich’s sacrifice fly to right field.
In the fifth inning, pinch hitter Kim Jalm reached on an infield single and Marra Hvozdovic was put back in to run for her. She went to second base on Alicia Field’s sacrifice bunt and to third on a wild pitch. She scored when Jenna Rhodes drove her in with a single. After Rhodes stole second base, she eventually scored when Mariconda drove her in with a single to right field to tie things up at 3-3.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, WCU opened with two singles and they both moved up on a ground out. With two down, Kerri Burnside hit a routine slow grounder back to pitcher Kenzie Roark, but the ball went through the wickets and Chelsea Schaffer scored on the error.
The Hokies had 10 hits, but gave up eight to a Catamount team that came in hitting only .158. Rhodes led the way with three hits, an RBI and two more stolen bases. Mariconda had two hits and an RBI while Everhart, Whitney Davis, Froehlich (RBI), Kristin Graham and Jalm each had a hit.
Abbie Rexrode got the start and went 2.1 innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits with two strikeouts. Roark went the final 4.2 innings, allowing one unearned run on four hits with a strikeout.
The second game of the day didn’t start off much better as ASU’s Katie Boyd crushed her fourth home run in five games to give the Mountaineers an early 1-0 advantage. With the offense sitting in idle for the first three innings, the Hokies finally came alive in the fourth inning. Graham reached on her second hit of the game and moved up on Froehlich’s walk. The two excecuted a double steal and then scored on Rhodes’ double to the gap to tie it up.
That’s the way things would stand until the eighth inning when Brittany Gaston singled home a pair of runs to give ASU a 3-1 lead.
When things looked bleak, the Hokies came together in a big way. With Erin Ota starting the inning on second base due to the Tiebreaker Rule, Mariconda went with an outside pitch on a 1-2 count and flicked the bat onto the ball for a single down the right field line. Still trailing by two, but with a glimmer of hope remaining, Everhart blasted a three-run home run to deep left field to pull out the win. The senior from Purcellville, Va., sauntered around the bases and met her team at home plate in jubilation.
At the plate, Graham led the way with two hits and a stand-up stolen base. Everhart had a hit and three RBI while Rhodes had a hit and two RBI. Mariconda also had a hit in the win. In the circle, Roark (W, 2-7) went the distance, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits with four walks (three intentional) and a career-high nine strikeouts.
The Hokies (4-9) will finish up tournament action on Sunday, taking on Coastal Carolina at 2 p.m. Tech downed the Chants 7-1 Friday in the its first game of the tournament.