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Feb. 14, 2002

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The University of Virginia softball team opens its 2002 season by playing a pair of games Friday (February 15) at the 21-team Triangle Classic at Walnut Creek Park in Raleigh, N.C. The Cavaliers’ first game is against Ohio University at 11:00 a.m. UVa will also play UNC Greensboro at 3:00 p.m. Bracket play will be contested on Saturday and Sunday, February 16 and 17.

The Cavaliers, under the direction of fifth-year head coach Cheryl Sprangel, concluded the 2001 season with an impressive 52-17 overall record and a 4-4 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The 52 wins are a school record. The Cavaliers were the most improved NCAA Division I team from the 2000 to the 2001 season. The Cavaliers were 23 games better last season (52-17) than the 2000 season (27-38). The 23-game improvement is also the sixth best ever in Division I softball.

Virginia returns 12 letterwinners, including eight starters, from last year’s team. Leading the way are second-team All-American Kristen Dennis (Encinitas, Calif./La Costa Canyon) and Ruby Rojas (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei), an All-Southeast Region performer.

Dennis, a fourth-year is UVa’s top returning pitcher, having posted an 18-7 record with a 1.31 ERA last season. Dennis also hit .380 in 2001 with 63 hits, including a school record 11 home runs. She also set school marks with 49 RBI and 47 walks. She was a 2001 Division I Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America second-team pick at designated player.

Rojas, a third-year third baseman, led the team in hitting with a .401 batting average (79-197) which is the third highest average in a season at UVa. Rojas was second on the team with eight home runs, 12 doubles, 50 runs, 42 RBI, 119 total bases and 18 stolen bases in 2001. She set career highs in all offensive categories and her 119 total bases, 79 hits, and 50 runs are the second highest single season totals in school history.

Virginia received eight votes (33rd overall) in the USA Today/NFCA Preseason Division I Top 25 poll. UVa is picked to finish third in the ACC according 2002 ACC Preseason Softball Coaches Poll as voted by the league’s five head coaches. The Cavaliers totaled 14 points in the poll and trail Florida State and North Carolina.

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