March 12, 2016
Tech clinches ACC home opener, defeats Pitt in doubleheader
Hokies and Panthers conclude series on Sunday at noon
Pitt (16-6) 00000042
Virginia Tech (7-14) 000268111
  • Tech Softball Park - 482
Pitt (16-7) 0043000780
Virginia Tech (8-14) 226000X10132
  • Tech Softball Park - 482

BLACKSBURG - The Virginia Tech softball team tallied 24 hits to secure two ACC victories over Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon to open the conference play at home.

The Hokies jumped on the board first in both games, holding the lead by the end of each inning of play. Tech improves to 8-14 overall with a 3-2 mark in the ACC while Pitt falls to 16-7 and 0-2 in conference.

Virginia Tech began the day with an 8-0, five-inning shutout off three Hokie bats with Maggie Tyler in the circle to toss her second complete game shutout of the season.

Chelsea Whitcomb led off the fourth inning with a single to left field, setting the Hokies up for success as Kelsey Mericka stepped up to the plate. Mericka sent a 2-RBI homer beyond the left field fence to give Tech the 2-0 lead.

Bats came alive in the fifth with consecutive hits by Olivia Lattin, Caitlyn Nolan, and Katey Smith to load the bases. Two errors by the Panthers allowed four runs to score before Lauren Duff slugged her first collegiate home run.

Duff’s 2-RBI homer ended the game in five for the Hokies first run-rule win over a conference opponent since facing the Syracuse on March 7, 2015.

In the premiere game of the day, eight Hokies collected 11 hits, including Mericka, Nolan, and Duff who hit two apiece.

Tech’s momentum continued into the second game of the day, scoring each of the 10 total runs in the first three innings.

The Hokies led off with three doubles by Lattin, Nolan, and Mericka to give tech the 2-0 lead by the end of the first.

Nolan’s 3-for-4 day with three RBI continued in the second with a 2-RBI double to center field to lengthen Tech’s advantage to four.

The Panther’s showed their fight in the top of the third inning, putting four runs on the board. Pitt’s Erin Hershman led off with a solo home run before three more Panthers reached home.

However, the Hokies bounced back tacking on their final three runs of the game in the bottom of the third. Mericka slugged her second 2-RBI homer of the day, bringing Whitcomb home. Elizabeth Birle continued the trend with another double, this time to left center as two crossed the plate. Whitcomb closed out Tech’s scoring with a 2-RBI single to bring the Hokies’ total to 10.

Pitt responded in the fourth inning, adding three runs on the board, but Tech held the team scoreless through the remaining three innings of play to earn the 10-7 win.

Nolan and Mericka each recorded three hits while Birle collected two. The Hokies have recorded 11 or more hits in three of their five total ACC games this season.

Tyler earned her second win of the day, totaling 14 strikeouts between the two games. Mikaela Aiken started game two in the circle but took the no decision.

The Hokies and Panthers return to Tech Softball Park on Sunday at noon to close out the series. Due rain in the area tomorrow afternoon, the game was moved to a noon first pitch.

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