Five takeways from Tech softball's weekend at the Sand Dollar Classic

BLACKSBURG – While only four games into the young season, there was enough to see in the Virginia Tech softball team’s play at the Sand Dollar Classic this past weekend that should make Hokie fans look forward to the 2018 season even more after an injury-riddled 2017 campaign.

After dropping a four-run contest to 14th-ranked Ole Miss and an extra innings defeat to Lamar, a team that took the Rebels to extras the next day, the Hokies were able to run rule Florida A&M and grind out a 3-1 win over Penn State on Friday. The Nittany Lions had defeated the Hokies twice last season and the two will play again this weekend at ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Multiple performance and players stood out in Gulf Shores. Here are five observations:

1. Dail impresses in first week

Dail’s pedigree coming out of Brookville High School was never in question. She was a two-time VHSL Pitcher of the Year and a two-time state champion. But the transition from high school to college ball always has its challenges. Dail passed her first test this past weekend when she struck out 24 batters in 13.0 innings of work. Despite dealing with control issues against Lamar, Dail was able to bounce back and fan 12 in a 3-1 complete game win over Penn State – her first collegiate victory.

2. Multiple freshmen see playing time

With 11 total newcomers, head coach Scot Thomas knew he would have to turn to some inexperienced players at some point during the season. He did just that in the first weekend where seven true freshmen saw the field over four games. Keely Rochard, Darby Trull, Jordan Dail, Cana Davis, Sammi Miller, Mackenzie Lawter and Kayleigh Addington all appeared in their first career games. Of the seven, six registered starts, three drove in runs and two – Rochard and Dail – recorded wins in the pitcher’s circle.

3. Schoenewald’s five hit game

In the loss to Lamar, Caroline Schoenewald became only the fourth Virginia Tech player to have five hits in a game. Schoenewald went 5 for 5 with four runs scored and five RBI, all three career highs, and set a new personal best with two home runs. The senior from Jamison, Pa., fell a triple short of hitting for the cycle, a feat that no Hokie has ever accomplished.

4. Eberle filling in nicely at DP

With Breanna Davenport working her way back from offseason shoulder surgery, Thomas started Carrie Eberle at designated player against Florida A&M and Penn State. He also had her hit when she started in the circle against No. 14 Ole Miss. Eberle had shown good plate discipline and some pop last season when she was called upon to hit and pitch after the Hokies suffered through a rash of injuries. After this weekend, she seems to have picked up where she left off. Over four games, she hit .444 (4 for 9) with two runs scored and six RBI. Four of those RBI came on her first career home run; a grand slam to left center that broke the game open against Florida A&M.

5. Nolan’s back

It’s no surprise that Tech’s struggles last season coincided with Caitlyn Nolan’s season-ending knee injury. A two-year starter at shortstop and the Hokies’ best defensive player, Nolan returned this week to hit .300 (3 for 10) with two runs scores, an RBI and two walks. Despite wearing a brace on her left knee, Nolan still looked smooth at short, especially against Penn State. With two on and one out in the second, Nolan fielded a grounder that ricocheted off of Dail’s glove in the circle and got the runner at first for the second out. In the bottom of the sixth and the Hokies leading 3-1, she covered second on a 3-6-4 inning ending double play.

Next up, the Hokies will travel to Durham for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, hosted by Duke.

For updates on Virginia Tech softball, follow the Hokies on Twitter

HokieSports Shop