CHARLOTTE – Sophomore Donna Friedman (Orange, Calif.) launched a two-run home run to spark a five-run 11th inning and lift Virginia (1-0) over Charlotte (0-1), 10-5, in a wild opening day affair.
Freshman Mackenzie Wooten (Windsor, Va.) tossed 4 2/3 innings of scoreless ball to earn her first collegiate victory. The right-hander entered in the sixth and allowed just two hits while striking out three to shut down Charlotte.
Junior Kate Covington (McLean, Va.) led the way at the plate with a 2-for-3 evening and three RBI. She also walked twice and laid down a sacrifice bunt.
Freshman Katie Goldberg (Atlanta, Ga.) laced a single to lead-off the top of the 11th inning before Friedman belted her two-run shot to left center. The Cavaliers would use four more hits in the frame, including a two-RBI triple from Covington and an RBI-single by Tori Gilbert (Mechanicsville, Va.) to produce a five-run inning and earn the win.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Ashley Jennings (Forest, Va.) opened the scoring when she scampered home on a wild pitch in the second inning. With a 1-0 lead, sophomore Aly Rayle (Herndon, Va.) went to work in the circle, fanning five of the first six batters she faced in the game. Virginia would extend its lead in the top of the fourth as Savana Avilla (Phoenix, Ariz.) looped a double down the left field line to lead off the frame and scored on a triple from Gilbert. Covington made it 3-0 with a single to right field, plating Gilbert.
Charlotte tied the game in its half of the fourth with three runs on four singles. Madelyn Wright had the game-tying RBI for the 49ers. In the fifth, Charlotte pulled ahead, 5-3, on a two-run homer from Imani Rochelle. Virginia tied the game in the sixth, scoring on a passed ball before Arizona Ritchie’s (Stafford, Va.) RBI-single brought home Covington to knot it at 5-5.
After four scoreless frames, the Cavaliers ignited in the 11th to score five times on six hits. Wooten closed the game with a 1-2-3 frame.
ON THE LINES
• Rayle went 3 1/3 innings and allowed three runs, all earned, on three hits. She struck out five 49ers.
• Freshman Molly Grube (Chesterfield, Va.) made her debut and worked three innings, allowing two runs.
• Gilbert finished the night 3-for-4 with an RBI. She also added her third career stolen base.
• Bailey Winscott (Clinton, Miss.), Goldberg and Avilla all had two hits.
• The 11-inning game is the longest opening day affair in Virginia’s 41-year program history.
FROM THE TOP STEP
“We just kept bringing it there,” head coach Joanna Hardin said. “We made some mistakes. It wasn’t perfect softball, but I am super proud of how we never let one mistake carry over into the next pitch, the next inning. The kids played their hearts out and they had fun.
“This type of game is great for us because it puts a little bit of pressure on you. It forces you to stay focused and it really forces you to throw away things that didn’t go your way and keep competing and keep fighting. I was really proud of that.”
Virginia continues play at the Charlotte Invitational on Saturday (Feb. 8) facing App State at noon before another matchup with the 49ers at 5 p.m.