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LYNCHBURG, Va. - Thanks to a big seventh-inning rally, the Virginia Tech softball team escaped Lynchburg with a sweep of Liberty Tuesday afternoon at Liberty Softball Field. The Hokies took care of business in the opener, winning 11-1 in five innings before rallying with three runs in the seventh inning of the second game to win 4-2.
In the first game, Tech fell behind 1-0 in the first inning, but scored two runs in the fourth inning to take the lead. In the fifth inning, the Hokies erupted for nine runs - the most runs scored in any inning this year - to put the game out of reach. Dani Anderson and Logan Spaw both drew bases-loaded walks before Amanda Ake singled in a run. Then, senior Bkaye Smith blasted a grand slam to center field for her first collegiate home run, coming in her 554th career official at bat. Anderson later drove in two more with a single to cap off a 3-for-3 game.
Tech got a great performance from Jasmin Harrell (W, 15-7) in the circle. The senior allowed one run on three hits in five innings, walking one and striking out four.
At the plate, Anderson led the way with three hits, three RBIs and two runs scored. Ake had two hits while Kylie McGoldrick, Kiara Ota and Smith each had one. For Ota, it was her first collegiate hit. The Hokies also drew 11 walks at the plate, one shy of tying the school record for team walks in a game.
In the second game, Liberty again struck for a run in the first inning to put the Hokies behind. In the second inning, Anderson drove in McGoldrick to tie it up, but the Flames took the lead back in the fifth inning on a leadoff home run. That’s the way it stood until a dramatic seventh inning.
McGoldrick led off the last inning with a home run to left-center field, her team-leading 10th of the year. With the dugout rejuvenated, Anderson was hit by a pitch before Ake singled. With two on and two out, Smith came through in the clutch with a double to the gap to plate both runners and give Tech the lead.
Maggie Tyler got the start and went four innings. She allowed both runs on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Kelly Heinz (W, 15-6) got the win in relief, going the final three innings. She allowed just one hit and struck out four, including the last two to end the game.
McGoldrick and Anderson both had two hits to lead the way. Gaskill, Ake and Smith each had one for the Hokies. For Anderson, she went 5-for-5 on the day with a walk and hit by pitch, getting on base all seven times.
With the wins, Tech improved to 33-16 while Liberty dropped to 19-35 with its 14th-straight loss.
Tech will have one last series to wrap up the regular season, hosting Maryland this weekend. On Saturday, the two teams will play the doubleheader at noon before playing the single game on Sunday at 1 p.m. on Senior Day. Tech (8-9) currently sits one game ahead of Georgia Tech (7-10) in fifth place (GT is at last-place Boston College this weekend) in the ACC and is 1 1/2 games back of Maryland (29-24; 11-7 ACC) for fourth place. Tech has to sweep Maryland to get the No. 4 seed and has the tiebreaker over Georgia Tech should those two end up tied.
For updates on Virginia Tech softball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Softball).