CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia Tech softball team split a doubleheader with in-state rival Virginia Friday evening at The Park, falling 8-2 in the first game, but responding in a big way with a 14-4 win in five innings in the second contest.
The Hokies got on the board in the first inning of the first game when Ashton Ward got things started. She singled and stole second base and scored on Courtney Liddle’s two-out double to right field. But Virginia got that run back in the second inning on a two-out RBI of its own to tie it up.
Virginia began hitting Tech starter Jasmin Harrell hard in the third inning, scoring another run to force a pitching change. Kenzie Roark came in with runners on the corners and one out, but gave up a squeeze play before getting two outs to get out of the jam, but with the Cavaliers leading 3-1.
In the fourth inning, Roark gave up a leadoff home run and then gave up three more hits as the Cavaliers made it a 5-1 game. With another error in the fifth by the Hokies, Virginia tacked on an unearned run in and two more in the sixth inning to mark the last of eight unanswered runs. In the seventh inning, Laura Wolff reached on an infield single and scored on Ward’s two-out triple down the line, but it wasn’t enough as UVa won 8-2.
Harrell (L, 15-5) lasted just 2.1 innings, allowing three runs on four hits with two walks and a strikeout. Roark went 2.2 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Ward pitched the sixth inning, allowing two runs on two hits with two walks. Tech had just six hits off Melanie Mitchell – three from Ward, along with one apiece from Liddle, Laura Wolff and Bkaye Smith – as the Virginia sophomore struck out 12.
In the second game, the Hokies once again got a run in the first inning, this time when Dani Anderson drove in Ward with a ground ball to shortstop. And like in the first game, Virginia quickly responded with an unearned run of its own in the bottom of the first inning.
In the second inning, the Tech offense exploded against reliever Stephanie Coates, who took over for Mitchell after she suffered an injury in the first inning. With the bases loaded, Kristen Froehlich drove in three with a double off the wall and then Anderson drove in Froehlich with a single. Wolff then drove in a run with her second hit of the game to give Tech a 6-1 lead.
Tech kept piling it on in the third inning. Richelle McGarva singled and eventually scored on Ward’s fifth hit of the day and then Ward, after stealing second base, scored on Froehlich’s single to make it 8-1. A sacrifice fly from Liddle drove in Froehlich and then Betty Rose unloaded on a pitch, crushing a two-run home run to make it 11-1.
After Virginia got a run back in the fourth inning, Alicia Field led off the fifth with a walk and then Liddle launched a two-run home run to left field to make it 13-2. Stephanie Kujawa then crushed a solo home run to left-center field, her third of the year, in a pinch hitting role. The Cavaliers got two runs in the fifth, but it wasn’t enough as the game was ended early due to the mercy rule.
After struggling in the first game at the plate, the Hokies went crazy in the second game, picking up 14 hits. Wolff led the way with a career-high three hits while Ward, McGarva, Froehlich and Liddle each had two, and Rose, Kujawa and Anderson each had one.
Roark (W, 14-6) went the full five innings to pick up the win. She allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
The two squads will attempt to play the final game of the three-game series on Saturday with a single game at noon, weather permitting.
For updates on Virginia Tech softball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Softball).