April 16, 2015
Tech splits with Liberty in softball
Hokies pick up 30th win of the season
Virginia Tech (30-11) 410101310112
Liberty (21-23) 0000100163
  • LU Softball Stadium
Virginia Tech (30-12) 0000000021
Liberty (22-23) 000010X130
  • LU Softball Stadium - 407

Michelle Prong hit her seventh home run of the season in the opener
Kylie McGoldrick had three hits in the first game
Kelly Heinz picked up her 11th win of the season

LYNCHBURG, Va. - The Virginia Tech softball team split a pair of games with Liberty Thursday evening at Kamphuis Field at Liberty Softball Stadium, winning the first game 10-1 before dropping the second one 1-0. The win in the opener moved the Hokies to the 30-win plateau for the 14th time in program history.

The Hokies, coming off a strong offensive performance against No. 12 Tennessee on Wednesday, kept their momentum going with a big first inning in the opener. Breanna Davenport walked and moved to third base on Lauren Gaskill’s double. Kylie McGoldrick reached on an infield single and then Davenport scored on Kelsey Mericka’s sacrifice fly. Michelle Prong then put an exclamation point on the inning with her seventh home run of the season, a three-run shot to left field to make it 4-0.

The Hokies put together a two-out rally in the second inning to plate a run as Davenport and Gaskill both walked and then McGoldrick singled to center field to drive in Davenport. In the fourth inning, the same trio produced another run with two outs, this time when Davenport and Gaskill both singled and the freshman scored on a pair of wild pitches. The Flames netted a run with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning, but that would be it for them.

Tech got that run back in the sixth inning when McGoldrick singled to right field to drive in Caroline Schoenewald, who doubled to lead off the frame. In the seventh inning, Kiara Ota scored on a Jessie Mehr single, Alyssa Clark scored on Davenport’s second hit of the game and Mehr scored on an RBI fielder’s choice from Ashley Kowalski, her first career RBI.

The Hokies picked up 11 hits at the plate, led by three from McGoldrick and two apiece from Gaskill and Davenport (two walks, three runs scored). Prong, Schoenewald, Mehr and Vanessa Gonzalez each had one hit.

In the circle, Kelly Heinz (W, 11-1) went the distance, allowing one run on six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.

In the second game, Liberty (22-23) scored an unearned run on a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning and freshman pitcher Abby Tincher shut out the Hokies in limiting them to just two hits in pulling off the upset. The loss snapped a 16-game winning streak to Liberty dating back to 2006.

Davenport and Katey Smith had the lone hits, both of which came in the first two innings. Mikaela Aiken (L, 5-3) was the tough-luck loser, throwing six innings of three-hit ball. She gave up one unearned run, walked none and struck out three. Tincher struck out eight (six looking), including the last two looking to end the game looking with the tying run on second base.

Tech (30-12, 6-8 ACC) will hop back into conference action with a critical three-game set at Pittsburgh (24-19, 9-9 ACC) this weekend. The series is a huge one in terms of the ACC standings. Pitt is a spot ahead of the Hokies in the standings with a series against Louisville left while the Hokies have NC State (9-6) and Boston College left (1-11) on the schedule. Virginia Tech currently sits in seventh place, one game clear of Georgia Tech (5-13) in the win column for the final spot. Georgia Tech has Boston College and Florida State (14-3) left in conference play. Virginia (4-14) is closing for a spot in the tournament, but finishes with Florida State and Syracuse (1-10) left. Only eight of the 11 softball-playing schools make the ACC Softball Championship, to be held May 7-9 at Tech Softball Park.

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