February 6, 2013
Hokies set to open 2013 season
Tech heads to Clermont for opening weekend
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The Virginia Tech softball team travels to Clermont, Fla., to open the 2013 season at the Dot Richardson National Collegiate Softball Invitational at the National Training Center. The Hokies open the season on Friday at 5 p.m. against LIU Brooklyn and then play Southern Illinois right after at 7 p.m. On Saturday, they face Chattanooga at 4 p.m. and then play Fordham at 6 p.m. On Sunday, Tech plays Southern Illinois again, this time at 11 a.m.

All of the games will be played at the National Training Center Complex at Legends Way Ballfields; 2350 Legends Way in Clermont. All five of Tech’s games will be played in the stadium.

Tickets must be purchased through the NTC Softball for advance discounted event passes. Tickets will be available at the gate during the event. The ticket manager is Bob Borak, and tickets can be purchased by calling 352-241-4595.

All Session GA – Adult: $20.00
All Session GA – Senior: $18.00
All Session GA – Youth: $15.00
Single Session GA – Adult: $10.00
Single Session GA – Senior: $8.00
Single Session GA – Youth: $5.00

Virginia Tech has played 158 games in Florida since its inception as a varsity sport in 1996, the second-most behind the Commonwealth of Virginia (428). The Hokies boast a 94-64 all-time record in the Sunshine State, and went 11-4 there last season.

Here’s the early weekend forecast for Clermont, Fla.

This year’s 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.

Scot Thomas is in his 18th season at the helm of the maroon and orange. He enters this weekend with a record of 614-408. In his career, he has led the Hokies to a berth in the Women’s College World Series (2008), two ACC titles (2007, 2008), five NCAA bids (2005-2008, 2012), eight conference championship games and a win over the U.S. National Team (2008) and the Dutch National Team (2012).

The Hokies return 14 letterwinners from last year’s squad, including all nine starters (fielding and DP) and two pitchers. Offensively, Tech’s top seven regular hitters in terms of batting average from a year ago return. Sophomore outfielder Lauren Gaskill led the team a year ago with a .312 average with six home runs, 35 RBIs and 24 stolen bases. She will be joined by senior Courtney Liddle who hit .306 with eight home runs to go along with 36 RBIs. Kelsey Mericka, who led the team in home runs (9) and RBIs (45) as a freshman last year, also returns. The defense finished 12th in the country last season in team fielding percentage.

In the circle, Jasmin Harrell returns for one last season for the Hokies. She led the team in wins (31), ERA (1.97) and strikeouts (227) a year ago, starting every game in the postseason. Bailey Liddle also saw considerable action last year, winning eight games and striking out 56 in 91.0 innings.

Tech welcomes seven newcomers to the program this spring, three of which will be competing for immediate starting time. Amanda Ake was a JUCO All-American last year at Tallahassee Community college and will battle at shortstop, third base or designated player, but will be in the lineup somewhere.

Freshmen Kelly Heinz and Maggie Tyler are expected to see a good workload in the circle this year, but won’t be rushed into action with two returning hurlers ahead of them.

Pitchers and Catchers

The Hokies are 10-7 all-time in season openers and will look to build on that mark when they take on LIU-Brooklyn Friday evening. Tech has won its last four season openers.

Chattanooga is coming off a 39-16 record, but fell short in the SoCon Tournament and didn’t make the NCAA Tournament. This year, the Lady Mocs are picked second in the preseason poll, led by six members who were selected to SoCon preseason All-Conference teams. Seniors Sara Poteat (.437, 18 SBs) and Kasey Tydingco (.360, 13 HRs, 17 2Bs), along with sophomore Cheyenne Willis (.350, 7 2Bs) were named to the first team, while three others were named to the second team.

Chattanooga led the nation in team batting average last year at a .347 clip with eight regular batters hitting over .325 and returns three of its top four hitters this year. Taylor Deason led the staff last year with a 24-9 record and a 2.23 ERA in 204.1 innings with 177 strikeouts and returns this year. Only two pitchers threw last year and the other graduated from a staff that posted a 2.69 ERA.

Tech has traditionally struggled against the Lady Mocs and hold just a 3-6 mark against them all-time. The Hokies did beat them in their last meeting, a 4-0 win in 2010 in Clearwater, Fla.

Chattanooga’s 2012 stats
Chattanooga’s 2013 roster

Fordham is coming off a 32-26 record from a year ago and must replace the best pitcher in program history in Jen Mineau. Mineau started 40 of 58 games last year for the Rams, posting a 1.62 ERA for a staff that had a 2.35 ERA. Michelle Daubman (3-6, 4.09 ERA) and Taylor Pirone (4-5, 4.10 ERA) return for the Rams.

At the plate, Fordham hit .253 last year with 54 home runs and 63 doubles. Unfortunately, the Rams’ top two hitters are gone leaving Paige Ortiz (.284, 13 HRs) as the leading threat.

Tech and Fordham are old Atlantic 10 Conference members and have played 12 previous times, with the Hokies winning 11 of those meetings. The two met last year in Kissimmee, Fla., with the Hokies winning 5-1.

The visitor dugout will have a familiar face in it as former Hokie star Charisse Mariconda is in her first year as an assistant coach for the Rams.

Fordham’s 2012 stats
Fordham’s 2013 roster

After a rough start to the 2012 season which saw a 1-13 start, LIU Brooklyn (formerly called Long Island) finished strong down the stretch and won 13 of its final 16 to win the NEC tournament title and claim an NCAA Tournament bid. The Blackbirds finished the season 25-35, but are looking to build on the momentum gained at the end of the year. Nichole Toven (.316, 6 HR) and Karina Cervantes (.306, 31 R) led the offense last year and return again this season. LIUB hit just .244 as a team last year with 35 home runs and just 12 stolen bases.

In the circle, LIUB had a team ERA of 3.82, but the top two pitchers from 2012 aren’t on this year’s roster. Cassie Vondrak is the top returning pitcher for the ‘Birds. She threw 138.1 innings last year, posting a 12-7 record with a 4.30 ERA.

Tech is 1-1 all-time against LIU Brooklyn, beating the Blackbird 5-2 last year in Kissimmee, Fla. The only other game came back in 2002 in Raleigh, N.C., a 5-3 win for LIU Brooklyn.

LIU Brooklyn’s 2012 stats
LIU Brooklyn’s 2013 roster

Southern Illinois is coming off a 36-20 2012 campaign and should pack a pretty tough offense. The Salukis hit .290 as a team last year, but lost their top two hitters to graduation. Meredith Wilson is the top returning threat on offense (.319, 11 2B) while two others who hit over .300 last year also return. In the circle, SIU struggled last year, posting a team ERA of 3.71, and all three pitchers used last year return. Alyssa Wunderlich led the way last season with a 12-2 record with a 3.13 ERA, but Brittney Lang (11-7, 3.77 ERA) and Katie Bertelsen (13-11, 4.03 ERA) saw significantly more innings than Wunderlich.

This will be the first softball meetings between Tech and SIU. The two teams are scheduled to meet twice in Clermont.

SIU’s 2012 stats
SIU’s 2013 roster

The ACC coaches voted the Hokies fourth in the 2013 Preseason Coaches’ Poll, released last week. North Carolina is the preseason favorite, according to the coaches, followed by Florida State, defending tournament champion Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Virginia, NC State, Maryland and Boston College.

Tech Softball Park, home of Virginia Tech softball since 1998, has been a tough place for opposing teams to play over the years. Nearly 800 permanent seats have been added, along with lights, two more press boxes, a video board and a new sound system, making the facility a fine one for the Hokies to play. Currently, the capacity is 1,024 for games. Over the years, Tech has posted a 197-78 record at home.

ESPN announced in the preseason its lineup of college softball broadcasts for the upcoming season, a lineup that features two Virginia Tech games for the first time in program history. The first game of the doubleheader against Florida State at home on April 20 - also the day of the Spring Game for football - and the single game at Virginia on Monday, April 29 at 7 p.m. will be televised, both live by ESPNU.

While Tech has been on TV 15 previous times, these two games will mark the first regular season games shown nationally live in the program’s 18-year history.

ESPN’s returning line-up of college softball analysts includes Garland Cooper, Jennie Finch, Cheri Kempf, Jessica Mendoza, Michele Smith, and Amanda Scarborough with Beth Mowins, Pam Ward, Cara Capuano, Joe Davis, Holly Rowe and Adam Amin on deck bringing the play-by-play each week.

Below is Tech’s all-time television appearance list, plus its lone appearance on ESPN3, the network’s online broadcasting platform:

2005 ACC championship game on RSN vs. Georgia Tech
2007 ACC championship game on RSN vs. Florida State
2008 ACC championship game on RSN vs. NC State
2008 vs. USA on ESPN2 (tape delayed)
2008 vs. Tennessee on ESPN2 in NCAA Regionals
2008 all three Super Regional games on ESPN at Michigan
2008 both WCWS games on ESPN from Oklahoma City
2009 vs. USF on Bright House Network
2009 vs. Florida State on Sun Sports
2009 vs. Florida State on FSN
2012 vs. Maryland at ACC on ESPN3
2012 vs. UNC at ACC Tournament on RSN
2012 ACC championship game on ESPN vs. Georgia Tech

Next weekend, the Hokies will head to Troy, Ala., to participate in the Troy Subway Invitational. Tech is schedule to take on North Florida, Evansville and Troy and then play two more games based on round robin records.

Career Grand Slams (active)

B. Rose vs. Liberty, 3/27/11
K. Banks vs. UNCG, 3/29/11
K. Mericka vs. Wagner, 2/24/12
B. Rose vs. Cornell, 3/20/12 (walk-off)
L. Gaskill vs. Liberty, 5/1/12
K. Banks vs. Maryland, 5/10/12

Career Walk-Off Home Runs (active)
B. Rose vs. Cornell, 3/20/12 - grand slam in B7 with 1 out to win 8-4

Career Games Started - by position (active)
B. Smith: 169 total - 113 2B; 55 SS; 1 LF
C. Liddle: 163 total - 99 1B; 57 C; 7 DP
B. Rose: 124 total - 110 C; 9 DP; 5 LF
D. Anderson: 103 total - 53 SS; 30 LF; 20 DP
K. Banks: 89 total - 48 CF; 24 LF; 17 RF
J. Harrell: 82 total - 82 P
L. Gaskill: 63 total - 63 CF
K. McGoldrick: 63 total - 63 2B
K. Mericka: 63 total - 58 3B; 3 DP; 2 C
L. Spaw: 39 total - 39 DP
B. Liddle: 21 total - 18 P; 3 RF
L. Wolff: 8 total - 6 RF; 2 CF
K. Smith: 4 total - 3 DP, 1 1B

Hokies by States (25)
Virginia: 11
North Carolina: 3
California: 3
New Jersey: 3
Georgia: 2
Missouri: 1
Tennessee: 1
Ohio: 1

Hokies by Class (25)
Seniors: 4
Juniors: 6 (1 redshirt)
Sophomores: 7 (1 redshirt)
Freshmen: 8 (3 redshirts)

Walk-Off Home Runs in Program History (14)
Bronwyn Blair vs. Charlotte, 3/25/98 - two-run home run in B8 to win 8-6
Tiffany Hurt vs. Radford, 2/21/01 - two-run home run in B7 to win 2-0
Amy Voorhees vs. Connecticut, 3/31/01 - solo home run in B10 to win 3-2
Megan Evans vs. Seton Hall, 5/5/02 - solo home run in B9 to win 1-0
Megan Evans vs. Virginia, 4/27/04 - grand slam in B8 to win 6-3
Stephanie Savre vs. Georgia Tech, 4/23/05 - grand slam in B7 to win 9-5
Caroline Stolle vs. Winthrop, 5/5/05 - solo home in B7 to win 2-1
Stephanie Savre vs. Radford, 3/1/06 - two-run home run in B9 to win 3-2
Beth Walker vs. North Carolina, 4/26/08 - three-run home run in B10 to win 5-2
Misty Hall vs. Louisville, 5/16/08 (NCAA Regionals) - solo home run in B7 to win 1-0
Jessica Everhart vs. Appalachian State, 2/21/09 - three-run home run in B8 to win 5-4
Misty Hall vs. Florida State, 4/17/10 - solo home run in B7 to win 5-4
Marra Hvozdovic vs. Western Michigan, 3/8/09 - solo home run in B7 to win 1-0
Betty Rose vs. Cornell, 3/20/12 - grand slam in B7 to win 8-4

Tech’s official record book, which includes game, season and career records, along with all of the no-hitters and perfect games in program history, can be found here.

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

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