LEXINGTON, Ky. (hokiesports.com) - The Virginia Tech softball team saw its 2013 season come to a heartbreaking end Sunday, falling to 17th-ranked and 12th-seeded Kentucky 1-0 in the final game of the NCAA Lexington Regional at John Cropp Stadium. The Hokies downed the Wildcats 2-0 in the first game of the day to force the “if necessary” game, but couldn’t scratch a run across in the second game as Kentucky won the regional to advance to next weekend’s NCAA Super Regionals.
“We did what we needed to do to compete and try to move on and obviously I thought coming into this regional we matched up well with Kentucky,” Tech head coach Scot Thomas said. “I think we proved that today. Hats off to them, hats off to my team for battling all last night and battling all day today. I am proud of our bunch for sure.”
In the first game, Tech got a three-hit shut out from freshman Kelly Heinz and a big RBI double from Lauren Gaskill as the Hokies pulled the 2-0 upset. Heinz shut down the high-powered UK offense, giving up just three singles as she struck out three and walked five to finish her freshman year with a 17-8 record.
The two teams were scoreless as they headed to the fifth inning when senior Betty Rose led off with a single and moved up on senior Bkaye Smith’s sac bunt. Gaskill then drove a 3-2 pitch to the gap to plate Rose and give Tech a 1-0 lead. After Dani Anderson was hit by a pitch and Courtney Liddle walked, Kylie McGoldrick drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 2-0. That would be all Heinz would need as she shut down Kentucky the rest of the way.
Tech had six hits in the game, led by three from Gaskill and two from Rose with one McGoldrick.
After a break, the two teams took to the field for the deciding game of the double-elimination Regional. The squads played even once again, but the Wildcats converted a fifth-inning error to a run off a hard-hit single to plate the lone run of the game.
The Hokies had several good chances, including a bases-loaded situation in the fourth inning, but couldn’t get the big hit needed to score the run.
Jasmin Harrell, just a few hours removed from pitching 13 innings in Tech’s 3-2 win over Marshall, was on once again in limiting Kentucky. She allowed the one unearned run on eight hits with two strikeouts and two walks. Bailey Liddle led the way with a pair of singles while Anderson, Courtney Liddle and Smith each had one.
The loss brought an end to the careers of Tech’s four seniors: Harrell, Courtney Liddle, Rose and Smith. The quartet helped Tech to 142 wins and two NCAA appearances during their time in Blacksburg.
Virginia Tech finished the season with a 38-21 record, advancing to its second straight NCAA Regional Final.
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