Virginia Set for ACC Softball Championship
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia softball team (33-20, 13-7 ACC) earned the No. 2 seed in the 2010 Atlantic Coast Conference championship, its highest seed since 1997, and will play No. 7 seed Virginia Tech (24-32, 8-13 ACC) at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Tech Softball Park in Blacksburg, Va. The game against the Hokies will be streamed live on ACC Select and live stats will be linked on VirginiaSports.com.
The winner of the Virginia vs. Virginia Tech game will take on the winner of No. 3 Florida State and No. 6 Maryland at 1 p.m. Saturday in the semifinals. That game will also be on ACC Select. The title game is set for 1 p.m. Sunday and will be televised by the league’s regional sports network.
Virginia is the No. 2 seed at the ACC Championship for just the third time in school history. The second seed is the highest ever as UVa has never earned the No. 1 seed. The Cavaliers were also the No. 2 seed in 1994, when UVa won the event, and 1997. Virginia had been the No. 8 seed in each of the last three conference tournaments (2007, 2008, 2009).
Virginia claimed its only ACC championship in 1994 and third-year head coach Eileen Schmidt was a member of that team. The Cavaliers have been the runner-up in the tournament six times – the last was in 2003. UVa was one of four ACC schools to play in the inaugural league tournament in 1992, along with Florida State, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Since then, the Cavaliers have compiled an all-time ACC Championship record of 27-34, including a 2-2 mark against VT in the conference tournament.
The Cavaliers are coming off a bye week for final examinations and have not competed since their final home series (May 1-2) against Florida State. UVa claimed the first game with the Seminoles, 2-1, but dropped the next two (9-6 and 2-1) as Florida State took the series.
Seniors Sarah Tacke and Nicole Koren lead Virginia at the plate this season. Tacke is hitting a team-best .358 and has 10 doubles, 10 home runs and 42 RBI on the year. Koren bats .314 with a team-best 12 home runs and 23 runs scored. She also has contributed 31 RBI.
In the circle, freshman Melanie Mitchell has a 26-15 record on the year to go along with a 2.75 ERA. She is second in the ACC with 277 strikeouts. Mitchell is one win shy of tying the Virginia school record for wins in a season; Lisa Palmer holds the mark, set in 1988, when she won 27 games as a junior.
Virginia Tech, the No. 7 seed, is 24-32 on the year with an 8-13 mark in conference play. The Hokies are also coming off an idle week, having last played at Boston College May 1-2. Against the Eagles, VT won the series, taking two-of-three.
Senior Whitney Davis leads Virginia Tech at the plate with a .333 average while junior Richelle McGarva is hitting .291 with a team-best 13 doubles. Senior Misty Hall (.279) has tallied a squad-best 10 home runs and 33 RBI while freshman Bkaye Smith (.263) is 24-of-28 on the basepaths and also posts a team-high 33 runs. In the circle, junior Kenzie Roark has a 3.12 ERA to go along with a 9-19 record. She has 132 strikeouts in 161 2/3 innings of work. Freshman Jasmin Harrell has a 3.23 ERA and an 11-10 mark, in addition to 92 strikeouts in 140 2/3 innings.
The Cavaliers have played Virginia Tech each season since 1998, with the Hokies holding a 22-16 series advantage. This season, Virginia swept the Hokies for the first time since the 1998 campaign. UVa won game one 5-0 and held on for a 4-3 win in the second game. On Sunday, the Cavaliers earned an 8-3 victory in a six inning game that was shortened because of rain. Prior to this season, VT had claimed 10 of the last 12 games between the two teams and took two-of-three in Charlottesville last year.
The last time Virginia faced off against Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship was in 2007. The top-seeded Hokies defeated No. 8 Virginia, 4-1, in the first round of the double-elimination event.