Virginia Clinches Second Place Finish in ACC
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia softball team (33-19, 13-6 ACC) clinched second place in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings with a 2-1 victory over No. 22 Florida State (40-15, 11-9 ACC) in game one of a doubleheader held Saturday at The Park.
Virginia’s second-place finish is the highest since the 1997 season, when the Cavaliers also finished second in a five-team league. Georgia Tech has already secured the top finish in 2010.
The two teams split the doubleheader as the Seminoles earned a 9-6 victory in game two.
Freshman Melanie Mitchell picked up her 26th win of the season in the first game and is one victory shy of tying the school record. She made her 43rd overall appearance when she took to the circle to set a Virginia single season record. Mitchell passed former Cavalier Karla Wilburn, who made 42 appearances in 2007; Mitchell would appear for the 44th time in the fourth inning of game two.
It was senior Nicole Koren’s two-run homer in the fourth inning that lifted Virginia to victory in game one. With UVa trailing 1-0, Lauren McCaskey hit a one-out single to center. The next batter, Koren, homered to left, her 12th long ball of the season, for a 2-1 Virginia lead.
Koren has recorded 12 home runs for the past two seasons; she needs one more to tie Kirsten Dennis for the single season record. Dennis hit 13 homers during the 2002 campaign.
Mitchell and the Cavalier defense held Florida State scoreless for the last three innings to claim the victory. She allowed just four hits and finished with six strikeouts.
Sarah Hamilton took the loss for the Seminoles; she gave up five hits and also fanned six.
Game two was a back-and-forth battle, with Florida State’s four-run sixth inning proving to be the difference.
The Seminoles again struck first with a run in the first inning and eventually jumped out to a 2-0 lead with another in the third. Then, in the bottom half of the inning, Virginia put up four runs to take a 4-2 lead.
Williams led off with a single to center and Skinkis reached on a fielder’s choice as Williams beat the throw to second and was called safe. McCaskey laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners over. With two outs, Sarah Tacke was intentionally walked to load the bases. Giannina Cipolloni stepped to the plate and doubled to right, scoring Williams and Skinkis. The next batter, Kendall, singled to right to score Tacke and Cipolloni.
Florida State scored two more runs in the fourth after solo home runs by Ashley Stager and Kristie McConn. But Virginia answered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. With one out, Abby Snyder singled up the middle. Skinkis reached on a fielding error by the shortstop to put runners on first and second and McCaskey was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Koren then recorded a sacrifice flyout to center, scoring Williams who tagged up from third. Skinkis would later score on a wild pitch for a 6-4 advantage.
The Seminoles chipped away at the lead and scored a run in the fifth to cut the deficit to one, 6-5. Then in the sixth, Florida State rallied for four runs to take the lead and the game.
Mitchell didn’t start the game but took the loss in the circle. She tossed the final 3 1/3 innings, allowing five runs of seven hits and finished with two strikeouts. Stephanie Coates started the game, throwing 3 2/3 innings. Coates gave up four runs on seven hits.
Hamilton earned the win but also did not start. She pitched 3 1/3 innings for the Seminoles and allowed just one hit while fanning five. Teresa Gober pitched the first 3 2/3 innings and allowed six runs, four earned, on six Cavalier hits.
The series concludes at noon Sunday. Virginia will honor its three seniors – Koren, Snyder and Tacke – as it plays its final home game of the season.