ROCK HILL, S.C. – Cold-hitting plagued Virginia (3-3) as the Cavaliers dropped a pair of games on day one of the Winthrop Softball Tournament. Virginia fell 2-0 to UNCG (3-2) before suffering a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Winthrop (3-4) in the nightcap.
GAME 1: UNCG 2, Virginia 0
A trio of missed opportunities proved costly in Virginia’s opening game of the Winthrop Softball Tournament as the Cavaliers fell 2-0 to UNCG (2-2) in a pitchers’ duel.
The Cavaliers put two aboard to open the game on a walk and hit-by-pitch, but three strikeouts by UNCG ace Morgan Scott (2-1) erased the early threat. Virginia had another early opportunity in the top of the third, as sophomore Bailey Winscott (Clinton, Miss.) tripled to lead off the inning. Once again, the Hoos were stymied by Scott who got back-to-back strikeouts before a pop-up left Winscott stranded.
In the bottom half, the Spartans finally got to Virginia starter Molly Grube (Chesterfield, Va.). A bunt-single and walk put two aboard to open the inning. After a foul out, Grube (0-2) appeared to have the second out of the inning, but a foul ball down the right field line was dropped. The error proved costly as Delaney Cumbie returned to the plate and drove an RBI-single into center.
Virginia had another golden opportunity in the fifth as a pair of walks and Savana Avilla (Phoenix, Ariz.) single loaded the bases with one out. Back-to-back grounders to third retired the Cavaliers, however, without a run crossing the plate.
Makenna Matthijs would tack on the second run of the game for UNCG with a solo homer to open the bottom of the fifth. It would be the only earned run of the game conceded by Grube.
Grube finished her day with five innings pitched while allowing just the two runs, one earned, on four hits. She fanned four while walking two. Fellow freshman Mackenzie Wooten tossed a scoreless inning in relief.
GAME 2: Winthrop 4, Virginia 2
Tori Gilbert (Mechanicsville, Va.) opened the scoring with a two-run home run in the top of the first inning. Winthrop answered with a pair of homers in its half, taking a 3-2 lead thanks to a two-run shot from Taylor Charlton and a solo homer from Tori Walker. Walker would extend the Winthrop advantage in the fifth with a second solo home run.
Much like the opening game of the day, missed opportunities proved costly for Virginia. The Cavaliers left five runners in scoring position, including leaving the bases loaded in the sixth and runners on second and third with one out in the fourth.
Arizona Ritchie (Stafford, Va.) finished 2-for-3 at the plate. Gilbert went 2-for-4 with her homer and a double.
Aly Rayle (Herndon, Va.) took the loss for the Cavaliers. Rayle (2-1) allowed the four runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings. Mackenzie Wooten (Windsor, Va.) worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief.
Madyson Watson (2-1) earned the win for Winthrop. After allowing the two-run homer in the first, she scattered six Virginia hits the rest of the way.
FROM THE TOP STEP
“We’re getting in opportunities,” head coach Joanna Hardin said, “and that’s great. We’re putting ourselves in a position where we’re one swing away and that’s where we need to be. We’re not going to come through and win those games if we’re not even in position, so that’s a positive we can take away. Next step is getting our swing off at pitches that are on the plate early in counts and coming through in those moments. I think that with time and experience that’s going to happen.
“We’ve got to come back tomorrow and be a little bit sharper in the circle, a little bit more aggressive at the plate and good things will happen.”
Virginia faces Holy Cross and Georgetown in Saturday (Feb. 15) action at the Winthrop Softball Tournament. First pitch against Holy Cross is set for 3 p.m. with the Hoyas matchup to follow at 5:30 p.m.