March 17, 2018
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Junior Lacy Smith (Lancaster, Pa.) drove Virginia (9-17, 1-4 ACC) into celebration in the bottom of the 11th with her two-out, walk-off home run, as the Cavaliers downed Syracuse (13-8, 3-2) in a 9-8 thriller.
The skid-snapping victory needed a pair of comebacks from the Hoos, who twice rallied from four-run deficits in the game. The pair of rallies included one in the 10th after the Orange scored four runs with two outs in the top half. The Hoos strung together five hits to plate four runs in the bottom half and survive into the 11th.
“It builds a ton of confidence,” head coach Joanna Hardin said. “The first couple of innings the game could have gone real right or real left and I was proud of them for coming back in the fifth. It was really a different team. That hasn’t happened consistently and they just made a decision to say ‘we’re going to let those first three innings go.'”
Syracuse jumped to a 4-0 lead by scoring in each of the first three innings, capitalizing on a pair of Virginia errors. The Cavaliers, however, steadied themselves and righted the ship in the middle innings.
Virginia began its first rally of the day by making the most of Molly Keshin‘s (New Canaan, Conn.) first-career triple. Allison Davis (Oak Hill, Va.) drove home Keshin with a groundout to second, cutting the deficit to 4-1 in the bottom of the third.
Erika Osherow (Darien, Conn.) entered the circle in the top of the fourth to relieve Smith and brought new life to the Cavaliers. A quick three-up, three-down fourth built momentum before Virginia finally shook off its fifth-inning woes with another 1-2-3 frame.
The bottom half of the fifth featured the bottom of the Virginia order setting the table with a leadoff single from Kate Covington (McLean, Va.) followed by a walk. Allison Davis drove home her second run of the day with a sacrifice fly before the Cavaliers got back-to-back doubles off the bats of Hayley Busby (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Danni Ingraham (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) to tie the game.
The next four innings settled into a pitching duel as Osherow and Syracuse ace Alexa Romero, both on in relief, traded zeros on the scoreboard.
It all changed in the 10th as the floodgates opened for Syracuse. Three walks loaded the bases and a base-clearing triple made it 7-4 Orange. Another base knock put Syracuse firmly in control at 8-4, or so it seemed.
Backed into a corner, the Hoos responded by stringing together three-straight singles to open the inning. Busby, Ingraham and Smith pushed a run across and put two aboard. Another single loaded the bases before Covington doubled home a pair to cut the deficit to 8-7 with just one away.
Virginia tied the game as Ashlee Davis (Gilbert, Ariz.) was awarded home as the Syracuse catcher was called for obstruction on the play at the plate.
“We knew we weren’t going to hit a seven-run home run right there,” Hardin said. “We strung hits together by simplifying our at-bats, hitting the ball down and using the pass the bat mentality.”
After Syracuse stranded a runner at third in the 11th, the second-longest game ever played at The Park ended with a bang. With two outs and a 3-1 count, Smith uncorked a no-doubter to left center, sending the Hoos pouring out of the dugout.
“I didn’t have the best at-bats throughout the night,” Smith said. “I was kind of looking for something fat. She got behind so I knew I was going to get something on the plate. I was swinging for a single or double up the middle and was just able to lift it over.”
– Virginia Softball (@UVASoftball) March 17, 2018
Smith (5-5) also earned the victory in the circle, tossing 4 1/3 innings. She started the game and allowed four runs, three earned, in the first three innings before reentering the circle in the 10th. Osherow worked 6 2/3 innings in relief, allowing the four runs in the 10th.
Romero (10-5) took the loss for Syracuse, allowing six runs on 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings out of the bullpen.
- The 11-inning game is the second longest ever played at The Park behind a 12-inning clash against North Carolina on April 1, 2006.
- The game marks just the eighth time the Hoos have played 11 or more innings in program history.
- Smith’s walk-off homer is the first for the Cavaliers since February 18, 2017, when Smith also launched a walk-off shot against ETSU.
- Five different Cavaliers recorded RBI, led by Allison Davis, Smith and Covington with a pair each.
- Busby finished the game a team-best 3-for-6 at the plate. Fellow freshmen Covington and Keshin had 2-for-5 days.
Virginia and Syracuse meet in the rubber match on Sunday (March 18) in a noon first pitch at The Park. The game will be carried on ACC Network Extra.