ON THE DIAMOND
The Virginia Tech softball team (17-10), coming off a sweep at UNCG on Wednesday, will finally return home for the first time since playing Radford on Feb. 14 to host the University of North Carolina (19-7) in a three-game series at Tech Softball Park to open ACC play.
THE WEEKEND SCHEDULE
The Hokies and Tar Heels will play a doubleheader on Saturday starting at noon and will play the single game on Sunday at 1 p.m. Admission to all of the action is free.
THE WEEKEND FORECAST
Here’s the early weekend forecast for Blacksburg.
PROMOTIONS THIS WEEKEND
For Saturday’s doubleheader, the first 300 fans will receive a free Virginia Tech knit hat and on Sunday, it’s Hokie Kids Club Day and the first 250 fans will receive a free Virginia Tech photo book.
Live stats for every Hokie softball game this season will be available on through hokiesports.com. It will always be this link.
All of the action from this weekend can be seen on Hokies All-Access, a subscription-based platform.
Fans can follow Hokie softball online through Twitter as well. In game thoughts, stats and notes, as well as links to articles and other miscellaneous items can be found at the official Twitter page for Virginia Tech softball, @VT_Softball.
NEW FAN GUIDE
A new online fan guide replaces the printed media guide this year for the softball team. This guide includes videos, color photos, links and much more. It will change throughout the year with new items as they happen so bookmark it and come back as the season progresses. The guide can be found at this link.
YEAR NO. 17
Scot Thomas is in his 17th season at the helm of the maroon and orange. He enters this weekend with a record of 590-297, needing just 10 victories to reach the 600-win milestone. In his career, he has led the Hokies to a berth in the Women’s College World Series (2008), two ACC titles (2007, 2008), four NCAA bids (2005-2008) and a win over the U.S. National Team (2008).
SCOUTING NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina is 19-7 after beating East Carolina on Tuesday and Elon on Wednesday. The Tar Heels are led by star pitcher Lori Spingola, who is among the national leaders in strikeouts, wins and shutouts. The sophomore is 13-6 with a 2.43 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 109.2 innings pitched. She has walked 38, given up 11 home runs and hit 24 batters. Ashley Bone (2-0, 2.54 ERA) and Sara Buchholz (4-1, 2.93 ERA) also pitch quite frequently. At the plate, the Tar Heels are hitting .275 as a team with 22 home runs and 21 stolen bases. Amy Nece (.382), Logan Foulks (.351, 5 HR), Ally Blake (.328) and Kelli Wheeler (.316, 5 HR) are the top hitters for UNC.
The Tar Heels have had Tech’s number for most of the time the Hokies have been in the ACC and hold a 16-10 lead in the series after taking two of three against Tech last year in Chapel Hill. The Hokies have won just one of the seven ACC series played with the Tar Heels and are 3-6 against UNC at Tech Softball Park.
UNC’s 2012 stats
UNC’s 2012 roster
UNCs 2012 schedule/results
PRESEASON ACC POLL
The ACC coaches voted the Hokies sixth in the 2012 Preseason Coaches’ Poll, released prior to the season starting. Georgia Tech is the preseason favorite, according to the coaches, followed by North Carolina, defending tournament champion Florida State, Virginia, Maryland, Virginia Tech, NC State and Boston College. After one weekend of action in the conference, Florida State and Virginia are both 3-0 while NC State and Georgia Tech are both 0-3.
TECH SOFTBALL PARK
Tech Softball Park, home of Virginia Tech softball since 1998, has been a tough place for opposing teams to play of the years. Nearly 800 permanent seats have been added, along with lights, two more press boxes and a new sound system, making the facility a fine one for the Hokies to play. Over the years, Tech has posted a 187-73 record at home.
A NEW ADDITION
This past offseason, a new scoreboard and video board were also added to enhance the fans’ experiences at TSP. The new board features a scoreboard on the bottom portion like the old one, but this one has LED lights and is capable of putting team names on the board. The new addition will be something to behold as a video board, sound system, netting, side panels and a steel tress up top will all add to the project. Virginia Tech’s video board is the fourth-largest college softball display installed by Daktronics.
The overall dimensions of the structure is 28 feet wide by 21 feet tall, and includes the Sportsound-500HD sound system speakers in the board so the sound will be directed straight to the stands as opposed to over the fans’ heads now.
The 11x18 foot video board is a HD-15mm LED video display that has 216 lines of resolution high by 360 columns of resolution wide. The display can operate as an independent display showing single large images or be divided in multiple zones (windows) to show a wide variety of statistics, information graphics, animations, and live and recorded video.
It also has non-lit sponsor displays on the side and features the accomplishments of the program. The video board allows for an introduction video, player spotlights, replay and other in-game enhancements. The board is protected by a 21x28 foot net that drapes over the front.
Up top is a steel truss with “Tech Softball Park” illuminated for night games.
The Hokies will play a doubleheader at home on Tuesday against Cornell (4-4) starting at 4 p.m., before hitting the road for a three-game ACC series at NC State next weekend.
RANDOM STATS AND NOTES
Did you know: UNC senior infielder Kelsey Green is the sister of former Hokie Maura Green. The elder Green played from 2000-2002, starting 42 games for the Hokies. She batted .239 for the Hokies during her career. The younger Green, a senior, has started 15 games for the Tar Heels this year and is hitting .200. The duo is from Langley, Va.
Career Grand Slams (active)
K. Froehlich vs. Charlotte, 2/12/11
B. Rose vs. Liberty, 3/27/11
K. Banks vs. UNCG, 3/29/11
K. Mericka vs. Wagner, 2/24/12
Career Walk-Off Home Runs (active)
M. Hvozdovic vs. Western Michigan, 3/8/09 - solo home run in B7 with 1 out to win 1-0
Career Games Stated - by position (active)
K. Froehlich: 174 total - 50 RF; 46 2B; 24 3B; 20 1B; 19 LF; 14 DP; 1 SS
B. Smith: 133 total - 113 2B; 19 SS; 1 LF
C. Liddle: 127 total - 64 1B; 56 C; 7 DP
B. Rose: 89 total - 75 C; 9 DP; 5 LF
M. Hvozdovic: 67 total - 41 LF; 22 RF; 2 CF; 2 DP
D. Anderson: 78 total - 53 SS; 19 LF; 6 DP
K. Banks: 59 total - 48 CF; 8 RF; 3 LF
J. Harrell: 57 total - 57 P
L. Gaskill: 27 total - 27 CF
K. McGoldrick: 27 total - 27 2B
K. Mericka: 27 total - 22 3B; 3 DP; 2 C
L. Spaw: 20 total - 20 DP
B. Liddle: 11 total - 8 P; 3 RF
L. Wolff: 8 total - 6 RF; 2 CF
I. Corrao: 4 total - 4 P
Hokies by States (22)
North Carolina: 4
New Jersey: 2
New York: 1
Hokies by Class (22)
For updates on Virginia Tech softball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Softball).