Virginia Sweeps Doubleheader From Flames
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Junior Alex Skinkis hit two home runs and classmate Melanie Mitchell matched her season high with 15 strikeouts in game two as the Virginia softball team (23-23) swept a doubleheader from Liberty Wednesday at The Park. The Cavaliers won game one 6-5 before taking the nightcap, 7-1.
Skinkis (La Palma, Calif.) hit career home runs No. 2 and No. 3 and finished 3-for-4 at the plate with four RBI in Virginia’s victory in game two. Her first career home run came as a freshman in 2010.
Virginia outhit Liberty (17-29) 10-3 in the contest. Sophomore Erica Cipolloni (Philadelphia, Pa.) added a 2-for-3 performance at the plate as seven Virginia starters tallied at least one hit in the winning effort.
Mitchell (White Plains, Md.) registered a complete game, did not allow an earned run and walked just one in the outing.
Virginia went up 1-0 when Skinkis led off the top of the third with a solo home run to left field. The ball bounced off the top of the wall and continued over the fence. In the next inning, junior Kristen Hawkins (Elizabeth, Pa.) and senior Giannina Cipolloni (Philadelphia, Pa.) both walked before Skinkis came to the plate and hit a one-out, three-run homer, again to left, to give the Cavaliers a 4-0 lead.
Liberty recorded its lone run in the top of the fifth. Mitchell got Kelly Strickland to strike out swinging on a pitch in the dirt but she reached safely and took second when Martinez couldn’t handle a throw from Hawkins on the putout attempt. Jill Stevens laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Strickland to third and she would score on Kaylee West’s sacrifice fly to left.
The Cavaliers responded and put up two runs in the fifth. With one out, sophomore Marcy Bowdren (Fairfax Station, Va.) walked and moved around to third on a Hawkins double to right center. Then with two outs, senior Giannina Cipolloni laid down a beautiful bunt single and tallied a RBI when Bowdren scored. Hawkins also scored on the play after a Liberty error, and Cipolloni ended up on third. Virginia led 6-1 at the end of the fifth.
Virginia added its seventh run in its final at-bat. With two outs, sophomore Stephanie Harris (Knoxville, Tenn.) was hit by a pitch. After Harris stole second, freshman Rachel Gillen (Wilmington, Del.) ripped a single through the right side to score Harris.
Stevens had two of Liberty’s three hits in the loss. Freshman pitcher Chandler Ball threw all six innings and gave up six earned runs. She finished with two strikeouts and eight walks.
Virginia outlasted the Flames in a back-and-forth contest to win the first game of the doubleheader, 6-5.
In her first start of the season, senior pitcher Stephanie Coates (Gloucester, Va.) threw six innings to earn her second win. Mitchell came on to record her first save of the year and struck out two of the four batters she faced in the bottom of the seventh.
The Cavaliers took an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first, thanks to Harris’ 3-run homer. Skinkis got things started with a one-out single up the middle. Then with two outs, Erica Cipolloni walked to put two runners on for Harris, who hit her fourth bomb of the season to left center.
After the Flames scored a run in the third and added three more in the fourth to take a 4-3 lead, Virginia responded with three runs of its own in the bottom half of the fourth. With one out, Bowdren and Hawkins reached on back-to-back singles. Then with two outs, Giannina Cipolloni doubled to left, allowing Bowdren to score from second. The next batter, Skinkis, singled to score both Hawkins and Cipolloni, who slid under the tag on a play at the plate. The two-out rally by Virginia gave the Cavaliers a 6-4 lead.
The Flames added one more in the sixth to cut the lead to 6-5 before Mitchell came on to close it out in the seventh.
Virginia outhit Liberty 9-5 in game one. Giannina Cipolloni, Harris and Skinkis all had two hits apiece to lead the Cavaliers at the plate.
The Cavaliers play host to NC State in the final ACC series of the year this weekend at The Park. The two teams will battle in a doubleheader at 12 p.m. Saturday and conclude the series at 12 p.m. Sunday. Following the second game Saturday, Virginia will honor its 2012 seniors – Kennedy Byxbee, Giannina Cipolloni, Stephanie Coates, Alexa Martinez and former player and current manager Rachel Harvey.