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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia softball team improved to 8-2 on the year with two victories over Ohio Friday in the home opener at The Park. The Cavaliers downed the Bobcats 9-2 in the first game of a doubleheader before rallying for three runs in the seventh inning to come back and win game two, 7-6.

Virginia was outhit 14-4 in the second game but put together three runs to overcome the deficit. Senior Alexa Martinez (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) was 2-for-2 with two walks and two runs in the win, while classmates Giannina Cipolloni (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Kennedy Byxbee (Paradise Valley, Ariz.) both had RBI singles.

Trailing 6-4 heading into the top of the seventh inning, UVa, the visiting team on the scoreboard, got its first two on when Marcy Bowdren (Fairfax Station, Va.) walked and Alex Skinkis (La Palma, Calif.) singled up the middle to put runners on first and second. The next batter, Megan Harris (Knoxville, Tenn.), successfully bunted over the two runners. Martinez then walked to load the bases before Byxbee stepped to the plate for a pinch hit single up the middle that scored both Skinkis and Bowdren to tie the game.

After an Ohio (4-6) pitching change, Stephanie Harris (Knoxville, Tenn.) was hit by a pitch, allowing Byxbee to take second and put Martinez on third. With still only one out, Cipolloni drew a walk and Martinez scored what proved to be the game-winning run.

The Bobcats were able to put together a pair of singles in the bottom of the seventh but senior pitcher Stephanie Coates (Gloucester, Va.), on in relief, was able get out of the inning with the victory.

Freshman pitcher Rachel Gillen (Wilmington, Del.) threw the first five innings for Virginia. She allowed four earned runs on 10 hits while striking out seven. Coates threw the final two innings and did not allow a run on four hits to earn her first victory of the season.

In the first game, Virginia used a six-run fourth to cruise to a 9-2 victory. The Cavaliers finished with nine hits, while junior pitcher Melanie Mitchell (White Plains, Md.) allowed just one earned run on four Ohio hits.

Virginia recorded three home runs in the first game, including a grand slam from junior Kristen Hawkins (Elizabeth, Pa.) in the fourth inning. Sisters Giannina Cipolloni and Erica Cipolloni (Philadelphia, Pa.) also homered in the winning effort.

Mitchell threw the complete game to pick up her fifth win of the season. She did not allow a walk and finished with eight strikeouts.

Hawkins, Skinkis and Giannina Cipolloni each tallied multiple hits. Taylor Williams (Woodbridge, Va.) and Stephanie Harris also contributed singles.

The Cavaliers continue play in the UVa Invitational with two games Saturday at The Park. Virginia will meet Colgate at 10 a.m. and Saint Joseph’s at approximately 12:30 p.m.

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