Virginia Tech was presented with a golden opportunity prior to its game against Florida State in the first round of the ACC Tournament. Unfortunately, the Hokies weren't able to take advantage and fell 9-2 to the Seminoles Friday in Atlanta.
The top seed in the tournament, Georgia Tech, was upset by UVa in the game preceding Tech's matchup with the Seminoles. Tech was looking for a repeat performance of its regular season series against the Noles, when it took two of three in Tallahassee. But the Hokies and Noles went in opposite directions since that series the first weekend in April and it showed late in Friday's game.
After tying the game at two in the top of the fifth, the Hokies gave up four runs in the bottom of the inning and three more unearned runs in the sixth to fall, 9-2. The Hokies looked like they were going to steal momentum in the fifth when Betty Rose hit a two-run homer to tie the game.
However, Jasmine Harrell, who came in for Kenzie Roark in the fourth after Roark allowed a sac fly to make the score 2-0, gave up a two-run homer to Kristie McConn and gave up two more hits before Roark re-entered the game with two outs in the inning.
Roark allowed an inherited runner to score and then allowed three more runs in the sixth that were aided by two Kristina Cruz errors that put the game out of reach for the Hokies. FSU's Sarah Hamilton retired the Hokies in order in the seventh to put the Noles into the semifinals.
Hamilton, who helped hold the Hokies to a .182 average in the regular season series, allowed on four baserunners during the game, including the Rose homer. Instead a familiar foe (home runs) and an unfamiliar one (fielding) cost the Hokies a shot at moving on. They have to wonder what might have been as the Seminoles went on to beat UVa in the semifinals and then claim the ACC title Sunday by upsetting North Carolina.
The Hokies season started with a lot of promise, but their inconsistency cost them at the end of the year as they lost 10 of their last 12 ACC games, including the tournament game against Florida State. However, this is a young team that has a lot of young, promising players.
The foundation was laid this year for what could be a good 2012. If they can get more consistency from their pitching staff and better hitting with runners on base they could make a return to the NCAA Tournament. It was certainly a disappointing end to the season, but there are plenty of reasons to be positive about the future of Hokie softball.