Virginia Softball Sweeps Yellow Jackets
ATLANTA – The Virginia softball team (16-5, 3-0 ACC) swept 2011 ACC regular season champion Georgia Tech (15-12, 0-3 ACC) Sunday in Atlanta, Ga., after hanging on for a 3-1 victory in the third and final game of the series. It was the first time the Yellow Jackets had been swept in conference play since April 2008 and the first sweep for UVa over Georgia Tech since 2001.
Senior Kennedy Byxbee (Paradise Valley, Ariz.) came on to pinch hit in the top of the sixth inning and hit her first career home run, a two-run shot over the right field fence, to lift Virginia to a 3-1 victory.
The Yellow Jackets, picked to win the ACC in the annual preseason poll, dropped to 15-12 and 0-3 in conference play. Virginia won the first game 3-1 and the second 13-2 in five innings on Saturday.
Junior pitcher Melanie Mitchell (White Plains, Md.) picked up her 10th win of the year. She limited the Yellow Jackets to one run on five hits and struck out five.
Junior Taylor Williams (Woodbridge, Va.) led the Cavaliers at the plate Sunday with a double and a single. Freshman Heidi Velk (Murrieta, Calif.) tallied two singles and classmate Rachel Gillen (Wilmington, Del.) doubled.
Virginia was first to score with a run in the top of the third inning. Williams started the stanza with a double to left center. Erica Cipolloni (Philadelphia, Pa.) followed with a single to right and moved to second in the throw. After sophomore Marcy Bowdren (Fairfax Station, Va.) walked to load the bases, junior Alex Skinkis (La Palma, Calif.) blooped the ball into left field to score Williams from third. Despite having no outs, Virginia did not score again in the inning after Georgia Tech pitcher Hope Rush struck out three straight Cavaliers to end the threat.
Georgia Tech answered in the bottom half of the inning. Leadoff hitter Ashley Thomas singled to left and stole second. She moved to third on Kate Kuzma’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Alysha Rudnik’s sacrifice flyout to left to tie the game.
The contest stayed knotted at 1-1 until the top of the sixth inning. Gillen drew a walk to leadoff the inning and junior Lauren Didlake (Bowling Green, Va.) came on to pinch run for her. Byxbee the batted for senior Giannina Cipolloni (Philadelphia, Pa.) and with one out, hit a two-run home run to give the Cavaliers a 3-1 advantage.
Rush took the loss and fell to 9-6 on the season. She finished with eight walks and five strikeouts.
Virginia takes a break from conference play to travel to the Judi Garmen Classic next week in Fullerton, Calif. The Cavaliers will meet UC Davis at 9 a.m. (Pacific) Thursday in the first of five tournament games.