CHARLOTTE – Virginia (3-1) scored seven-straight unanswered runs, including a five-run sixth inning, to earn a come-from-behind, 9-7, victory over App State (1-2) to close play at the Charlotte Invitational on Sunday (Feb. 9).
With the win, Virginia improves to 3-1 on the season for its best start since 2013. Donna Friedman (Orange, Calif.) provided the go-ahead knock and finished the game 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI. Savana Avilla (Phoenix, Ariz.) also delivered two RBI in the game, going 1-for-4 at the plate.
Sophomore Aly Rayle (Herndon, Va.) tossed seven innings in relief, limiting App State to three runs. She struck out seven while scattering three hits to improve to 2-0 on the season.
Trailing 7-4 heading into the sixth, the Cavaliers produced five runs on five hits. Sophomore Arizona Ritchie (Stafford, Va.) opened the frame by legging out an infield single on a chopper to third. A walk put two aboard before sophomore Bailey Winscott (Clinton, Miss.) lined an RBI-single into center field. Avilla followed with an RBI-single of her own to pull Virginia within one at 7-6.
With one out and the bases loaded, Friedman stepped to the plate and roped the first pitch she saw off the center field wall for a two-run double. Freshman Katie Goldberg (Atlanta, Ga.) extended the lead with a single to left, making it 9-7.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Virginia jumped to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first on bases-loaded walks from Ashley Jennings (Forest, Va.) and Ritchie. App State answered with a five-run bottom half, chasing Virginia starter Mackenzie Wooten (Windsor, Va.). Bailey Morton had a two-run triple to highlight the frame for App State. An inning later, she launched a two-run homer to left to give the Mountaineers a 7-2 advantage.
After the home run, Rayle settled the game by retiring the next 11 batters she faced. That allowed Virginia to chip away with two runs in the fourth on a fielder’s choice and sacrifice fly. The Cavaliers would then explode for five in the sixth to earn the comeback victory.
ON THE LINES
• Virginia’s 3-1 start is the best for the program since 2013 when the Cavaliers also started 3-1.
• Rayle finished the weekend with 19 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings.
• Seven Cavaliers had an RBI in Sunday’s win.
• This was the first time Virginia rallied from a five-run deficit since coming from seven-down against Western Michigan on Feb. 10, 2017.
FROM THE TOP STEP
“We learned a lot about ourselves throughout the weekend culminating in the last game,” head coach Joanna Hardin said. “Our team never believed we were out of the fight. I’m really proud of how we responded to getting punched in the gut after giving up five runs in the first inning. We had a choice to either punch back or cave in. We continued to have quality at-bats and Aly [Rayle] gave us seven gutsy innings in the circle.”
Virginia heads to the Winthrop Tournament in Rock Hill, S.C. next weekend (Feb. 14-16) for five games.