Takeaways from the Hokies weekend at the Texas Invitational

BLACKSBURG – After a weekend where the Hokies defeated their first ranked team on a neutral field since 2014 and their first ranked opponent overall since 2016, they’re back in Blacksburg and ready to take on Radford in their 2018 home opener at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

A lot of positives came out of Virginia Tech’s weekend at the Texas Invitational where it upset 20th-ranked Michigan in eight innings, 1-0, just one day after falling to the Wolverines. Despite two other tough losses to host Texas, 3-2, and Wichita State, 5-2, the Hokies are still 7-5 through the first three weekends and have already played four games against three teams that finished with a top 30 RPI last season.

It’s a long season – 42 regular season games left to be exact – and Tech knows that it has yet to hit its stride. With a young and strong pitching staff and a capable offense that looks to shake off an early season slump, fans should be excited to watch this team as the Hokies get ready to turn the calendar to March. Here’s one more look back at the Texas Invitational:

1. Pitching and defense continues to be strong

With the offense going through a tough stretch, Virginia Tech has been lifted by their pitching and defense in the early goings of the 2018 season. After this weekend’s games, the Hokies rank third in the ACC with a 2.09 team ERA and a fielding percentage of .973. Nationally, Tech’s ERA ranks 50th while its fielding percentage sits in 32nd. If those numbers stay consistent, the Hokies will be tough to break in close games down the stretch.

2. Eberle’s scoreless innings streak ends

This weekend saw arguably the best pitching performance in the young career of sophomore Carrie Eberle. Her eight-inning, complete game shutout against No. 20 Michigan marked her third consecutive shutout, all against Power Five competition, and extended her scoreless inning streak to 22. She came on in relief against Wichita State and got her streak up to 23 innings before a run came across, making it the longest streak since Jasmin Harrell’s 23.1 straight shutout innings in 2012 between March 25 and April 1.

3. Inside the squeeze

With the score tied at 0-0 entering the eighth inning against Michigan on Saturday, Eberle retired the side and was set to start the home half on second with the international tiebreaker in effect. Head coach Scot Thomas and assistant coach Justin Miller conversed and decided to pinch run Eberle for junior Kinsey Johnson. Sophomore Taylor Clark led off the inning with a well-placed sacrifice bunt that moved Johnson to third. With one down, Darby Trull stepped to the plate and missed the first attempt at a suicide squeeze. The freshman settled in and dropped a perfect bunt on the next pitch that was fielded by the third baseman and was thrown home but not in time to get Johnson, giving the Hokies the 1-0 win.

4. The offense struggles but help is on the way

Going up against the toughest pitching they’ve faced thus far in the young season, including Michigan’s Meghan Beaubien and Texas’ Paige von Sprecken, getting the big hit and stringing together runs was hard to come by for the Hokies this past weekend in Austin. But the return of Breanna Davenport to the lineup against Wichita State was a welcome sight to see. Even though she went hitless in her four plate appearances, one in a pinch-hit situation against the Longhorns and three at-bats against the Shockers, Tech can now factor her All-ACC and veteran bat into the lineup moving forward.

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