SPARTANBURG, S.C. - After two days of waiting for the snow to clear, the Virginia Tech softball team finally took the field at the Buffalo Wild Wings Spartan Invitational Sunday, and while it took 6.2 innings to get rolling, when the Hokies did, it was in dramatic fashion. Down to the final out, Amanda Ake and Katey Smith hit consecutive pitches for home runs to lift Tech to a dramatic 5-4 win over previously undefeated Ball State.
Ball State jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a pair of unearned runs, but Ake’s two-out single up the middle in the bottom half of the inning scored Lauren Gaskill to cut the lead in half. In the third inning, the Hokies loaded up the bases thanks to a two-out fielding error by the Cardinals, allowing freshman Elizabeth Birle to step up and single up the middle. Her first career hit plated Vanessa Gonzalez and Amanda Ake as the Hokies took a 3-2 lead.
The Cardinals (3-1) battled back to take the lead in the fifth inning with a two-run, four-single stanza, which nearly proved to be the winning runs. In the sixth inning, Tech put three runners on with one out, but a caught stealing a harmless fly ball ended the threat. In the seventh, Kylie McGoldrick led off with a single, but Vanessa Gonzalez popped up the bunt, which turned into a double play, putting the Hokies down to their final out. On a 2-2 pitch, Ake blasted a solo home run to left field to tie it up and then Smith hit the next pitch out to center field to give the Hokies the walk-off win.
It marked the first walk-off win for Virginia Tech since Betty Rose hit a walk-off grand slam to beat Cornell in 2012.
Maggie Tyler went five innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on eight hits with four strikeouts in picking up the no decision. Kelly Heinz (W, 2-1) pitched the final two innings, allowing no runs or hits with a walk and three strikeouts to pick up the win in relief.
At the plate, Tech had seven hits, three coming from Ake and the others from Smith, McGoldrick, Birle and Kat Banks. Tech also drew seven walks at the plate of BSU pitcher Nicole Steinbach.
The Hokies (3-1) will be back in action later on Sunday, taking on undefeated USC Upstate at 2 p.m. The Spartans are receiving votes in both major polls after an impressive 5-0 start.
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