CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia softball team (15-9, 2-0 ACC) swept a doubleheader with No. 24 Notre Dame (16-6, 0-2 ACC) at Palmer Park on Friday (March 11) to claim the weekend series over the Irish.
Due to inclement weather expected in the area, the Cavaliers and Irish moved the game originally scheduled for Saturday to Friday and will conclude the series on Sunday at 2 p.m.
It was a contrast of styles in the games as Virginia used a five-run rally in the seventh to take the first victory. Abby Weaver walked it off with a three-run home run to cap that seventh-inning rally. The second game saw starter Aly Rayle go the distance in the circle as Virginia used a four-run second inning to grab the momentum and hold onto it for the duration.
NOTES ON THE DAY
• The series win over the Irish is the first over a nationally-ranked opponent since 2010 vs. North Carolina.
• The game-one win over the Irish was the first at home over a ranked foe since No. 25 Syracuse (3/12/11).
• With the win in game one, Virginia picked up the first win over Notre Dame at home in program history.
• Sarah Coon extended her streak of reaching base safely to 19 consecutive games.
• Abby Weaver hit her first home run of the season with the walk-off hit in game one of the doubleheader.
• The walk-off home run by Weaver was the second of the season for the Cavaliers.
• Virginia moved to 5-21 all-time against the Irish with the doubleheader sweep and won for the first time against the Irish since the 2017 season.
FROM HEAD COACH JOANNA HARDIN
“Game one was awesome. Abby Weaver came up in a big moment. We’ve been really close in a lot of games with runners in scoring position and just one swing away. It was just a matter of time before we broke through. Tori Gilbert had a really mature at bat to turn things over to Weaver. We executed a lot of the things we’ve been working on. That momentum carried over into the second game. Aly Rayle threw it extremely well and we needed the big outing we knew she was capable of providing. We’re really proud of the team and the energy.”
GAME 1: Virginia 7, Notre Dame 5
Notre Dame scored in the first, pushing a run home with a one-out ground ball to short where the Cavaliers got the out at first, but the runner going home from third slid under the tag at the plate as the Hoos looked for a double play.
The Cavaliers took the lead in the fifth, loading the bases before Lauren VanAssche delivered the go-ahead runs with a two-RBI double. VanAssche golfed one over the head of the third baseman and out of the reach of a diving shortstop, allowing two runs to score.
The Irish answered in the sixth, getting a two-out RBI double to tie the game before a fielding error on a fly ball to right brought the go-ahead run home.
Virginia fought back, driving in five runs with two outs to take the win. It started with a two-RBI single from Tori Gilbert with the bases loaded before Abby Weaver delivered the three-run home run to the bullpen in left to walk it off.
Savanah Henley (5-5) picked up the win in relief, working the final 1.1 innings. She walked three and allowed two runs on one hit. Henley entered in the sixth to relieve starter Mikayla Houge with one on and two outs and the game tied 2-2.
Alexis Holloway (6-2) took the loss, allowing the seven runs on eight hits with six walks and five strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work.
GAME 2: Virginia 6, Notre Dame 1
Virginia struck first in game two, pushing four runs home in the second to continue the momentum from the series opener. It started when Weaver singled to short, driving in Gabby Baylog from third. The runs continued to come as a fielding error brought a second run home. With the bases loaded and two outs, VanAssche would single to left to drive in two more runs for the 4-0 lead.
Baylog extended the lead for the Hoos in the fifth inning, delivering a two-RBI double that took the lead out to 6-0.
Notre Dame got on the board in the seventh with a leadoff home run from Karina Gaskins, but Rayle and the Cavalier defense shut things down for the win.
Rayle (3-1) allowed one run on four hits with a walk in her 7.0 innings of work.
Payton Tidd (5-3) took the loss for the Irish, allowing six runs – three of them earned – on eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts.