BLACKSBURG – The Virginia Tech softball team split a pair of games with NC State Saturday at Tech Softball Park, downing the Wolfpack 6-2 in the first game before falling 3-1 in the second game. Coupled with NC State’s win Friday night, the Wolfpack won the series 2-1. On Saturday, the two teams combined for six home runs, with four of them coming off NC State’s bats to account for all five of the Wolfpack’s runs on the day. The split leaves Tech at 33-16 (9-9 ACC) and NC State at 24-21 (5-11 ACC).
Game 1: Virginia Tech 6, NC State 2
Kenzie Roark retired the Wolfpack in order in the top of the first, and in the bottom half of the frame, Ashton Ward and Kristen Froehlich got the Hokies going, leading off with back-to-back doubles. Betty Rose was hit by a pitch, and Richelle McGarva then made it 2-0 with an RBI single. Stephanie Kujawa walked to load the bases and then Kristina Cruz beat out an infield single to drive in Rose for a third run.
Rose went deep to lead off the bottom of the third, hitting her team-leading ninth home run of the season and giving the Hokies a 4-0 lead.
Roark had not allowed a runner past first base through 3.1 innings, but with one out in the top of the fourth, Bethaney Wells and Caitlin Dent hit back-to-back solo homers, closing the Hokies’ lead to two, 4-2. However, Cruz answered in the bottom half, hitting a leadoff dinger over the wall in left – her third of the season. Ashton Ward kept it going with a one-out single up the middle. She stole second, and advanced to third on a flyout by Froehlich. Courtney Liddle then picked up a two-out RBI with a single through the left side to put the Hokies back up 6-2.
The Wolfpack sent Linzy Rother to the circle in the bottom of the fifth, making her first appearance of the year. She allowed a double and a pair of walks, but held the Hokies scoreless through the final two innings.
NC State threatened in the top of the seventh, putting two runners on, but Roark stranded them on second and third to pick up her 16th win of the season by a final score of 6-2.
Ward, Froehlich and Cruz led the Hokies at the plate, each collecting two hits and at least one run. Cruz went 2-for-2 with a walk, a home run, a run and two RBI while Ward went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs. Froehlich hit 2-for-4 with two doubles, a run and an RBI. Liddle, Rose and McGarva accounted for the other three RBI, and Rose scored the final two runs, including a solo shot in the third.
Roark (W, 16-7) threw the full seven innings for the Hokies, allowing two earned runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out four.
Game 2: NC State 3, Virginia Tech 1
Toni Ann Williford started the Wolfpack off on the right foot in game two with a leadoff single up the middle. Wells then hit her second home run of the day to give NC State a quick 2-0 lead.
Bkaye Smith got the offense going in the bottom of the third with a one-out single up the middle. Wolfpack starter Kayla Cox hit Ward then walked Froehlich to load the bases. Courtney Liddle then battled through a long at-bat to draw a walk and drive in Smith. However, the Pack avoided a big inning, as Cox got Rose to pop up in foul territory and McGarva to ground out to end the inning with NC State still ahead, 2-1.
Cruz and Kat Banks flashed some leather in the top of the fourth, making two spectacular plays, but Alicia Abbott went deep with two outs to put the Wolfpack back up, 3-1.
The Hokies collected two hits and a walk in the bottom of the fifth inning, but Ward got thrown out at the plate trying to score from second on Rose’s single, and Cox then stranded two to get out of the inning unscathed.
After allowing a leadoff single in the top of the seventh, Hokie starter Jasmin Harrell was replaced in the circle by Roark. Roark faced three batters in the frame, retiring them all. The Hokies then went down in order as well in the bottom half of the inning, as NC State wins the rubber match, 3-1.
Harrell (L, 15-8) threw 6.0+ innings for the Hokies, allowing three runs on eight hits and no walks while striking out three. Roark pitched to the final three batters, retiring all three.
While no Hokie collected multiple hits in the game, Liddle, who had the only RBI, and Laura Wolff both reached base twice, and Smith went 1-for-3 with the team’s lone run. Wells continued to shine at the plate for the Wolfpack, going 3-for-3 with a double, a home run, a run and two RBI. Additionally, Alicia Abbott went 2-for-3 with a home run.
The Hokies hit the road on Wednesday for a midweek non-conference doubleheader at Liberty. The first game is slated to begin at 2 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech softball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Softball).