BLACKSBURG (hokiesports.com) - The newly ranked Virginia Tech softball team, sporting an 11-1 mark early on, will travel to Elon Thursday for a single game against the Phoenix at Hunt Park. Game time is set for 5 p.m. The Hokies made their 2013 debut in one of the national polls, checking in at No. 23 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. In the USA Today/NFCA Division I Softball Poll, the Hokies sit just outside the top 25, coming in at No. 27.
Elon (5-4) is led by Tomeka Watson, who was named the Southern Conferenc’es Player of the Week after going 11-for-16 (.688) in Elon’s five games last week. The Jackson, Ga., native hit a home run in every contest along with nine RBIs, three doubles, four stolen bases, a .737 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of 1.812. The senior hit her 27th career home run against Hampton to become the program’s all-time career leader in that category. The Preseason All-SoCon first-team selection leads the league in batting average (.571), home runs (seven), RBIs (13), slugging percentage (1.464) and on base percentage (.613). She has a current streak of a home run in six straight games.
Elon picked up a huge 2-1 win over No. 8 Georgia in the first weekend of the season. The Phoenix bat .321 as a team with 16 home runs as six starters are hitting .300 or higher. Elon plays at home Wednesday against East Carolina.
The big news of the day came in the form of the national ranking, marking the first time Tech has been ranked in a national poll since opening the 2009 season ranked 20th in the preseason poll. Tech went 2-3 in that opening weekend and dropped out of the polls, never to return that season. The last time the Hokies were ranked following games came in 2008 when they finished the season ranked eighth in the country after advancing to the WCWS.
Following Thursday’s road game, Tech will open its home slate on Tuesday, March 5 against UNCG.
The day after the Greensboro contest, Tech will head west for a 12-day, 10-game trip over Spring Break to play in the Long Beach State Invitational and the Judi Garmin Classic. Among the 10 games, Tech is scheduled to face four top 25 teams in Arizona State (3rd), UCLA (10th), Michigan (14th) and Arizona (21st). Those four teams have combined to win eight of the last 10 NCAA National Titles in softball. Tech will also take on Cal State Fullerton (twice), Weber State, UNLV and Pacific.
For updates on Virginia Tech softball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Softball).