Hokies drop two at UNC in ACC opener
Liddle, Anderson each earn three hits and an RBI
March 19, 2011
Virginia Tech (18-7) 0000000030
North Carolina (17-10) 000201X370
  • Williams Field - 488
Virginia Tech (18-8) 0020000272
North Carolina (18-10) 110100X372
  • Williams Field - 488


The Virginia Tech softball team opened the 2011 ACC season this afternoon with a doubleheader at the University of North Carolina. Tech starters Kenzie Roark and Jasmin Harrell kept the Hokies in the game, allowing just three runs in each game, but Tar Heel pitcher Lori Spingola pitched a total of 9.2 shutout innings to help North Carolina sweep the Hokies on opening day. The wins lift the Tar Heels to 18-10 (2-0 ACC), while the Hokies fall to 18-8 (0-2 ACC).

Game 1: North Carolina 3, Virginia Tech 0

The first three innings were scoreless, as Kenzie Roark allowed three hits and Courtney Liddle provided the Hokies a leadoff hit in the top of the second, but neither team advanced past first base. However, in the bottom of the fourth, Haleigh Dickey got on base with a single through the right side and Brittany Robinson put the Tar Heels on the board with a two-out, two-run home run to straightaway center, her third of the season, to give North Carolina a 2-0 lead after four.

After the Hokies left Betty Rose, who drew a one-out walk, on first in the top of the fifth, Roark rebounded to retire the Tar Heels in order in the bottom half of the inning.

The Tar Heels added to their lead in the bottom of the sixth. Ally Blake started it off with a one-out single to right field. Elisha Elliott replaced her as a pinch runner at first, and advanced to second on a wild pitch – the first runner in scoring position for either team. Dickey then walked to make it first and second, bringing Jordan Scarboro to the plate. Scarboro hit a fly ball to shallow left. Richelle McGarva ran in and made a diving play to get the ball in her glove, but she was unable to hang onto it, which loaded the bases for Robinson. Roark and Robinson battled at the plate, but Robinson won the struggle, drawing a full-count walk and earning her third RBI of the game. However, before the Tar Heels could do any more damage, the Hokies caught a break, as a baserunning mistaking by Robinson allowed Kristina Cruz to turn a double play, catching Brittany McKinney’s pop fly and rifling it to Liddle at first.

Down to its last three outs, Tech put together some offense in the top of the seventh, getting back-to-back hits from Courtney Liddle and Kristen Froelich. However, that was all the offense could muster, as Betty Rose struck out and Ashley Ward grounded out to the pitcher to end the game with a final score of 3-0. It was the first time all season that the Hokies were shut out.

Lori Spingola (14-7) threw a 3-hit gem, allowing two walks and striking out eight. Kenzie Roark (9-5) pitched the full six for the Hokies, allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out three.

Courtney Liddle led the Hokies at the plate, earning two of Tech’s three hits, and Kristen Froelich went 1-for-3. Brittany Robinson accounted for all three of UNC’s runs, going 1-for-2 with a home run, a walk, and three RBI. Haleigh Dickey reached base all three times, going 2-for-2 with a walk, and Kelli Wheeler went 2-for-3.

Game 2: North Carolina 3, Virginia Tech 2

The Hokies’ bats came alive in the top of the first in game two, as Kat Banks opened the game with a hard-hit ball to left field, but Tisha Mahon made an over-the-shoulder snag for the first out. Richelle McGarva and Dani Anderson put up a pair of singles to make it first and second with one out. Courtney Liddle then hit a towering fly ball to centerfield, which was caught by Dani Manko for the second out. McGarva and Anderson advanced on the play, but upon appeal, McGarva was called out for leaving early, which ended the inning.

Kelli Wheeler led off the bottom of the first with a double off the wall in center. Tisha Mahon then laid down a perfect bunt, advancing Wheeler to third and, using her quick speed and the power of surprise, made it all the way to second base. Ally Blake put the Tar Heels on the board with a sacrifice fly to center. Kristina Cruz then saved a run, as she fielded Dickey’s grounder perfectly and threw home to get Mahon at the plate. Jasmin Harrell then struck out Scarboro to end the inning relatively unscathed, allowing just the one run.

The Tar Heels tacked on another run in the second, with a solo homer by Logan Foulks. A Cruz throwing error and a pair of walks loaded the bases with two outs, but Harrell got Blake to ground out to second before another run could cross the plate.

In the top of the third, the Hokies finally got on the board, as Bkaye Smith led off with a single to the shortstop. Kat Banks moved her to second on a sacrifice bunt, and Richelle McGarva walked to make it first and second. Dani Anderson then picked up the first RBI of the day with a single through the left side, scoring Smith. Courtney Liddle then tied the game with an RBI double to left center, scoring McGarva. Third baseman Brittany Robinson then saved starter Sara Buchholz a potential run or two, making a fantastic catch in foul territory to get Kristen Froehlich for the second out, and Buchholz then struck out Rose to end the inning.

The game remained knotted at two for a full inning, but in the bottom of the fourth, Wheeler put the Tar Heels back on top, 3-2, with a solo homer over the wall in right center.

Tech had a runner on at least second in each of the first six innings, but as the game headed into the top of the seventh, the Hokies still trailed, 3-2. Dani Anderson drew a one-out walk, and Courtney Liddle replaced her on first with a fielder’s choice to third, but Froehlich popped out to second for the final out of the game, forcing Tech to open the conference season, 0-2.

Jasmin Harrell (7-2) got the starting nod for the Hokies in game two, allowing three runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out seven. Sara Buchholz (4-3) pitched the first 4.1 innings for the Tar Heels, allowing two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out two and earned the win. Spingola then returned to the mound to pitch the final 2.2 innings, allowing two walks and a strikeout and picking up her first save of the season.

Dani Anderson led the Hokies at the plate, reaching base safely in all four plate appearances, going 3-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. Liddle earned Tech’s second RBI, with a double in the third. Kelli Wheeler, Tisha Mahon and Brittany Robinson all went 2-for-3, and Wheeler added two runs, a walk and an RBI.

The Hokies will look for their first ACC win tomorrow afternoon, as they complete the three-game series with UNC beginning at 1 p.m.

For updates on Virginia Tech softball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Softball).