TROY, Ala. (hokiesports.com) – The Virginia Tech softball team opened play at the Troy Subway Invitational Friday with two victories, downing a scrappy North Florida team 3-1 before withstanding a late Evansville rally to win 3-2.
The Hokies opened the Invitational hot, scoring two runs in the first inning. Lauren Gaskill started it off with a triple to the gap and scored on Logan Spaw’s fielder’s choice for the first run of the day. With Spaw and Courtney Liddle on base, Betty Rose’s fielder’s choice brought in Liddle to put Tech up 2-0.
The Ospreys got on the board in the top of the fourth inning. Jackie Reese sent one over the left field fence, but North Florida failed to keep it going as it completed the half inning with Tech up 2-1. The Hokies responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the fourth inning. Kelsey Mericka led off with a triple to the right field fence and Amanda Ake’s single made it 3-1, the eventual final score.
Tech recorded five hits with five different Hokies - Gaskill, Spaw, Kelsey Mericka, Ake and Bkaye Smith - each charting one. North Florida notched seven hits as Kelly Wilson had game-high two. In the circle, Jasmin Harrell (3-0) pitched all seven innings for the Hokies. She allowed one run on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
In the second game, Gaskill started it off again with a double down the left field line. Kat Banks’ fly out advanced Gaskill to third before Liddle’s single brought her home for the first run of the game. With the bases loaded in the top of the fourth inning, Smith grounded out to record the RBI and score pinch runner Morgan McCoy. Kelsey Mericka’s sac fly made it a 3-0 ball game in the top of the fifth inning as she brought in Banks.
Evansville tried to make a game of it in the bottom of the seventh with their first hits of the game. With two Aces on base, Kirsten O’Conner sent one to right center to put two runs on the board, but Kelly Heinz notched her 13th strikeout to end the game and give the Hokies the 3-2 victory.
Tech notched eight hits, led by Liddle’s three. Gaskill, Banks, Mericka, Dani Anderson and Smith each had one.
Heinz dominated in the circle as she went almost perfect. The freshman allowed her first hit in 16.2 innings dating back to last weekend in the final inning. The single to lead off the seventh inning was Evansville’s first base runner of the game. Heinz finished the game allowing two runs - the first two of her college career in over 20 innings - off three hits with no walks and a career-high 13 strikeouts.
The Hokies (6-1) will be back in action on Saturday, taking on the host Troy Trojans at 1 p.m. local time (2 p.m. Eastern) before being seeded into a four-team tournament. The opponent and time is to be determined.
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