SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Virginia (8-5) split a pair of games on the final day of the Wings Etc. Classic, downing Tennessee Tech (8-5) by a 9-2 score before falling to USC Upstate (11-2), 6-2, in the finale.
The Cavaliers finished 3-1 on the weekend and will carry their best record since 2012 into ACC play.
GAME ONE: Virginia 9, Tennessee Tech 2
Virginia stayed hot at the plate, racking up 13 hits to score nine runs in a 9-2 victory over Tennessee Tech.
Virginia opened the scoring in the top of the first on a solo home run from freshman Katie Goldberg (Atlanta, Ga.). The homer was the second of the year for the Cavalier shortstop.
The Cavaliers extended the advantage to 4-0 in the top of the second, plating three runs on four hits. Kate Covington (McLean, Va.) led-off the frame with a double to left. After Mikaila Fox (Ocean Springs, Miss.) laid down a sacrifice bunt, Covington scored on a Bailey Winscott (Clinton, Miss.) single. Tori Gilbert (Mechanicsville, Va.) then doubled and Goldberg followed with an RBI-single to end the inning.
After Tennessee Tech struck for a pair in the bottom of the fourth on three hits, Virginia blew the game wide open with a five-run fifth. The Cavaliers used a trio of home runs to provide the damage and build a 9-2 lead. Donna Friedman (Orange, Calif.) struck first, lifting a high-arching, two-run homer off the left-field foul pole. Covington followed two batters later with a two-run blast to left before Fox launched her first collegiate homer in back-to-back fashion.
Virginia’s three home runs in the fourth inning marked the first time the Cavaliers went deep on three occasions in a single inning since 2018 against Howard. Covington and Fox’s back-to-back blasts were the first for the Cavaliers this year.
Sophomore Aly Rayle (Herndon, Va.) earned the win in relief, working 1 2/3 scoreless innings. She did not allow a hit while striking out three. Freshman Molly Grube (Chesterfield, Va.) went 3 1/3 innings in the start. She allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits. Grube fanned four Golden Eagles.
GAME TWO: USC Upstate 6, Virginia 2
USC Upstate jumped on the board in the second inning, capitalizing on a Virginia error on a double-steal attempt to score one. A two-out single from pitcher Mallie Brown made it 2-0 Spartans in the early going.
A close call at first resulted in an error to begin the bottom of the third and USC Upstate capitalized with four unearned runs in the frame. Max Barnes provided the punctuation for the Spartans, lifting a two-run homer in the inning.
Virginia broke through in the fifth inning, stringing together singles from Fox, Winscott and Savana Avilla (Phoenix, Ariz.) to load the bases. Goldberg drew a walk to push one run across and Friedman brought home another on a ground out to cut the deficit to 6-2.
The Cavaliers, however, were unable to complete the comeback. Riley Wilkinson (Fairfax Station, Va.) took the loss for Virginia. She allowed four unearned runs in 2 1/3 innings of work.
FROM THE TOP STEP
“We learned a lot about ourselves,” head coach Joanna Hardin said. “We’ve got 13 games under our belt and it’s a lot of experience for a lot of players who just haven’t been on the field consistently in their career. I think offensively we’re learning about who we are. Defensively, we know we’ve got to be sharper than we were that last game.
“Overall, I’m proud of how we’ve grinded and fought out these games. We’ve got to keep learning, growing and getting better. I’m very excited about where we’re going.”
Virginia opens ACC action next weekend at Clemson. Game one against the Tigers is set for Friday (Feb. 28) at 6 p.m.