RALEIGH, N.C. – The Virginia softball team (3-4, 2-3 ACC) closed out ACC pod play on Sunday (Feb. 21) by splitting games with Louisville (3-4, 3-2 ACC) and Pittsburgh (1-6, 1-4 ACC)) at the Dail Softball Stadium at NC State.
The Cavaliers fell to Louisville by a score of 4-0 in the first game before powering past Pittsburgh 12-3 to end the weekend’s action. With the win over Pittsburgh, the Cavaliers claimed the series with the Panthers for the first ACC series win of the season.
After notching only one hit in the outing against the Cardinals, Virginia got home runs from Kate Covington (McLean, Va.) and Tori Gilbert (Mechanicsville, Va.) against the Cardinals. Covington hit a three-run shot, while Gilbert hit a two-run homer. Nine different batters recorded a hit against Pitt with Donna Friedman (Orange, Calif.) leading the way with a 3-for-4 afternoon that included a run scored and two RBI.
GAME ONE: Louisville 4, Virginia 0
Clare Zureich (0-1) struck out a career-high seven batters in her 4.2 innings of work. She suffered the loss as she allowed three runs – two earned – on five hits with two walks. Mikayla Houge (Collins, Iowa) and Mackenzie Wooten (Windsor, Va.) combined to close out the final 2.1 innings.
Taylor Roby (1-2) picked up the win for the Cardinals as she worked the complete-game shutout, allowing the one hit with a walk and three strikeouts.
Louisville got on the board in the first, pushing a run home as the leadoff batter walked before stealing second and taking third when the throw on the steal attempt sailed high. She then came home on a groundout to short.
The Cardinals took advantage of a second error in the game when Maddy Newman opened the inning with a single and took second on an error by the Cavalier pitcher. Pinch-hitter Rebecca Chung then brought her home with a single to left. Sydney Bickell returned to the lineup to run for Louisville before a sac bunt moved her to third and an infield single brought her home for the 3-0 lead. Mikayla Houge (Collins, Iowa) then struck out the first batter faced to end the inning.
A solo home run from Cassady Greenwood in the sixth extended the lead for the Cardinals to 4-0. The four-run lead would stand as Louisville claimed the win.
GAME TWO: Virginia 12, Pittsburgh 3
The Virginia bats exploded in the second game of the day with the Cavaliers scoring at least two runs in each of the final four innings to rally for the win over Pittsburgh.
Wooten (1-0) picked up the win in relief as she worked 1.2 scoreless innings and allowed two hits with one strikeout. She relieved starter Molly Grube (Chesterfield, Va.) who worked 3.1 innings in the start, allowing three runs on four hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Morgan Murphy (Chesapeake, Va.) closed out the final 2.0 innings for Virginia, limiting the Panthers to one hit.
Dani Drogemuller (1-2) took the loss for the Panthers, working 4.1 innings in the start and allowing seven runs on seven hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
Pittsburgh scored first, using a two-run shot from Sarah Seamans to get on the board in the third inning. E.C. Taylor reached on a single through the left side to get on base for the Seamans hit.
Virginia moved into the lead with a three-run fourth inning. The Cavaliers loaded the bases before Mikaila Fox (Ocean Springs, Miss.) was hit by a pitch to bring the first run home. Arizona Ritchie (Stafford, Va.) then drove a two-RBI single to right field to put Virginia up 3-2.
The Panthers answered the Virginia rally in the home half of the fourth, getting an RBI triple from Hunter Levesque to tie the game at three.
Virginia vaulted back in front with a three-run home run from Covington. The Cavaliers then added a fourth run in the inning when Tori Gilbert (Mechanicsville, Va.) went home from second on a ground ball to short from Ritchie as Pitt unsuccessfully tried to turn a double play.
A two-run shot from Gilbert in the sixth pushed the lead out to 9-3 in favor of the Cavaliers before Virginia would cap its scoring in the seventh with three more runs. The Cavaliers got a run from Savana Avilla (Phoenix, Ariz.) on an error before Donna Friedman (Orange, Calif.) added a two-RBI single.
NOTES ON THE DAY
• Clare Zureich’s seven strikeouts vs. Louisville was a career high. Her previous best was six vs. Radford (3/26/19).
• Kate Covington’s three-run shot against Pitt was her second home run of the season. Her other home run this season was a grand slam against South Alabama. Both home runs broke tie games for the Cavaliers.
• Tori Gilbert’s home run was her first of the season and the eighth of her career.
• The 12 runs scored against Pitt was the most by the Cavaliers since a 12-0 win at NC State (4/26/19) and is the most ever scored by Virginia against the Panthers.
• The Cavaliers have now won back-to-back series against the Panthers and 4-of-5 games in the series. The Cavaliers lead the all-time series with Pitt 12-10.
FROM HEAD COACH JOANNA HARDIN
“I’m really proud of how the team bounced back after game one and finished out the day against Pitt. Our conference schedule is going to be challenging with four games each weekend. We have learned a lot about ourselves over the weekend and have a lot of feedback headed into the next week of practice. Winning our first conference series of the season was a great way to close out the weekend. We are ready to hit the ground running and prepare for JMU and George Washington on Saturday.”
UP NEXT FOR THE HOOS
Virginia will return to action in the first home games of the season when the Cavaliers host the Cavalier Classic at Palmer Park. Virginia will host James Madison and George Washington in games across the two days of the event with play beginning on Saturday (Feb. 27).