BLACKSBURG - Ashton Ward’s RBI single in the top of the eighth inning lifted the seventh-seeded Virginia Tech softball team to 1-0 win over second-seeded Virginia in a donnybrook of a rivalry game Friday in the first round of the ACC Softball Championship, being played at Tech Softball Park.
The game was a tight one throughout with both teams struggling to get runners into scoring position. Tech had a chance in the fourth inning when Courtney Liddle and Kristen Froehlich singled, but a ground out and a foul out ended that threat. Virginia had a chance of its own in its half of the fourth inning. A single from Sarah Tacke and then a walk put two runners on, but Kenzie Roark wiggled out of the jam by inducing a pair of groundouts to end the inning.
In the sixth inning, Misty Hall was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and moved up on Whitney Davis’ sacrifice bunt. Virginia walked Liddle on four pitches, but freshman pitcher Melanie Mitchell got an infield fly and a fly out to center to keep the game scoreless. Just like in the fourth inning when the Hokies threatened, Virginia countered Tech’s sixth inning rally by putting two runners on with an out, but two ground balls to Bkaye Smith ended that rally.
In the top of the eighth inning, Davis reached on an error and was in run for by Ella Miller. Virginia elected to walk Liddle for the second time to put runners on first and second base with one out. After Froehlich struck out, Ward poked a single up the middle and Miller raced around third and slid in just beat the throw home from center fielder Giannina Cipolloni to score the game’s first run.
Roark then went to work in the bottom of the eighth inning to complete her masterpiece. She got Nicole Koren to fly out to left field on the first pitch and then got Sarah Tacke grounded out to first base and then Cippoloni struck out to send the Hokies into a hullabaloo. Roark (W, 10-19) was spectacular, throwing an eight-inning gem. She allowed no runs on five hits with four walks and four strikeouts.
The Hokies picked up six hits off Mitchel, who was a first-team All-ACC selection. Liddle led the way with two hits while Froehlich, Ward, Kristin Graham and Smith each had one
Tech (25-32) keeps its season alive for one more game with the win. Needing to win the Championship to earn the NCAA’s automatic to the tournament, the Hokies will now face No. 3 seeded Florida State Saturday at 1 o’clock. FSU beat Maryland 3-0 in the day’s first game.