Virginia Set for Citrus Classic at Disney's Wide World of Sports
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia softball team (11-2) will meet a pair of ranked teams on its five-game slate at the Citrus Classic this weekend at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
The Cavaliers open the tournament at 10 a.m. Friday against Penn State followed by a 12:15 p.m. meeting with St. John’s. On Saturday, UVa will face Syracuse at 10 a.m. before its first ranked foe in No. 15/16 Michigan at 2:30 p.m. The Orange and Blue will conclude play Sunday with a 9 a.m. game against No. 18 Oregon.
Virginia, off to its best start since the 1993 team also went 11-2 to open the year, is coming off a 5-0 weekend at home. Senior outfielder Giannina Cipolloni (Philadelphia, Pa.) also broke the Virginia school record for career stolen bases.
Junior Kristen Hawkins (Elizabeth, Pa.) leads the Cavalier offense with a .385 average with three home runs and 11 RBI. Sophomore Erica Cipolloni (Philadelphia, Pa.) contributes a .349 average, a team-best 15 hits and four home runs and seven steals. Giannina Cipolloni bats .342 with 13 hits, nine RBI and eight stolen bases.
In the circle, junior pitcher Melanie Mitchell (White Plains, Md.) boasts a 7-1 record with a 0.85 ERA. She has 67 strikeouts and just three walks in 49.2 innings of work. Freshman Rachel Gillen (Wilmington, Del.) adds a 3-1 record with 28 strikeouts in 34 innings.
Penn State is 2-6 on the year and coming off a 1-3 performance at the Carolina Classic last weekend in Chapel Hill, N.C. Junior Alyssa Renwick leads the Nittany Lions with a .348 average while classmate Kailyn Johnson hits .333; both have a team-best eight hits. In the circle, pitchers Jordan Wheatley (3.32 ERA, 0-1) and Lisa Akamine (5.33 ERA, 1-3) have each made five appearances.
The Cavaliers lead the all-time series with Penn State, 16-12, but the two teams have not met since the 2004 season, where UVa earned a 5-0 victory.
St. John’s is 2-9 this season and spent last weekend participating in the first of two at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. Senior Kristi Cady is hitting .412 to lead the Red Storm offense while sophomore Jackie Reed adds a .394 average and a team-best 13 RBI. Sophomore pitcher Ashley Beza has made nine appearances in the circle with a 3.36 ERA and 1-6 record.
Virginia and St. John’s are meeting for the second consecutive year. Last season, the Cavaliers earned a 15-8 win in Greenville, N.C., in the first meeting of the series.
Syracuse is receiving votes in both the USA Today/NFHCA and ESPN/USA Softball weekly polls with a 5-5 record. Senior Lisaira Daniels leads the Orange offense with a .379 average to go along with a squad-best 11 hits and eight runs.Senior hurler Jenna Caira has made six starts with a 3-3 record, 3.12 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 33.2 innings.
UVa is 1-1 all-time against Syracuse after playing for the first time during the 2011 season at the UVa Invitational in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers won the first meeting 2-1 before the Orange took a 13-8 decision the following day.
No. 15/16 Michigan boasts an 11-4 record and is led at the plate by freshman Lauren Sweet’s .325 average. Senior Amanda Chidester chips in a .318 average with a team-best four home runs and 14 RBI while freshman lefty Haylie Wagner has a 7-1 mark with a 1.78 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 43.1 innings of work.
The Wolverines own a 4-2 lead in the all-time series with Virginia. The two teams last met in 2010 in Baton Rouge, La., where they split two games. Michigan won the first 13-0 in five innings before UVa upset then-fourth-ranked UM, 2-1, a day later.
No. 18 Oregon enters the weekend with an 8-2 mark and has won its last seven. Five Duck players are hitting over. 400 through 10 games, paced by Courtney Ceo’s .484 average. Jessica Moore owns a 6-2 record in the circle with a 1.56 ERA.
UVa is 1-0 all-time against Oregon after upsetting the No. 13 Ducks 3-2 last year at the Citrus Classic.