ATLANTA – The Virginia Tech softball team put forth a spirited effort, but two big home runs and timely defensive errors did the Hokies in as fourth-seeded Florida State downed the Hokies 9-2 in the first round of the ACC Championship at Mewborn Field Friday night on the campus of Georgia Tech.
The Seminoles wasted little time in getting on the board as leadoff hitter Tiffani Brown turned on a Kenzie Roark offering and poked it down the right field line for a solo home run to quickly make it 1-0.
In the fourth inning, Robin Ahrberg singled and was taken out for a pinch runner, who moved up on a walk and then stole third base. Amber Bryant, the pinch runner, scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0. Jasmin Harrell was brought in after that and gave up a single, but struck out Shayla Jackson to end the threat.
Courtney Liddle, a first-team All-ACC selection, led off fifth inning with an infield single to break up the no-hitter and pinch runner Sarah Ashby replaced her. Ashby didn’t have to do much but trot around the base paths as Betty Rose crushed an offering to left-center field to tie the game up. Her 12th home run of the season marks the third-most in program history for a single season.
But as quick as the Hokies tied it up, Harrell gave it right back. After walking the leadoff batter on four pitches, the sophomore gave up a laser home run to Kristie McConn to deep left field to make it 4-2. It was McConn’s first home run of the season. Harrell gave up two more hard hits later in the inning, and Roark gave up one more after she was re-inserted into the lineup to make it 6-2.
The Seminoles scored three unearned runs on two Kristina Cruz errors in the sixth inning to make it 9-2 and seal the deal.
Florida State hit both Tech pitchers extremely hard, picking up 13 hits. Roark went five total innings, allowing five runs (two earned) on nine hits with three walks and two strikeouts in the no decision. Harrell (L, 18-10) pitched one plus inning, allowing three runs on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Roark relieved her in the fifth inning and finished the game.
As hard as Tech’s pitchers were hit, the offense didn’t give them much support as Liddle, Rose and Bkaye Smith had the only hits off Sarah Hamilton. Additionally, the Tech defense committed three crucial errors in extending innings for the hot-hitting Seminoles, who have picked up 28 hits in their last two games.
Smith also turned two remarkable double plays from her second base position to spark the Hokies.
Florida State, the No. 4 seed, will now face eight-seeded Virginia Saturday in the semifinals.
Tech finishes up a successful season at 37-20, marking the 11th time the Hokies have won 30 games or more in 16 seasons. The loss most likely marks the end of five Tech seniors: Cruz, Alicia Field, Richelle McGarva, Roark and Ashton Ward. The NCAA will announced the 64-team NCAA Tournament field Sunday night at 10 p.m. on ESPNU.
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