Last week against Georgia Tech we learned Virginia Tech's softball team is capable of beating any team left on its schedule. This week against Virginia we learned the Hokies are also capable of losing to any of them.
Virginia Tech gave up six runs in the final two innings of its rubber match with UVa Saturday night to fall 6-5 and lose its series with the Wahoos, 2-1. The pressure is now on the Hokies in their final two ACC series against NC State in Maryland if they want to improve their seeding for the ACC tournament.
Game 1: Virginia 8, Virginia Tech 2
The first game of the series was a slow burn for the Hokies as three Virginia Tech pitchers combined to give up single runs in the second and fifth innings and two runs each in the third, fourth and sixth innings. Starter Jasmin Harrell gave up three runs on four hits with two walks and a strikeout over 2.1 IP.
Ashton Ward was led the Hokies offensively, going 3-for-4 with an RBI triple in the seventh inning. She provided Tech with half of its six hits in the game.
Game 2: Virginia Tech 14, Virginia 4 (5)
Tech's bats bounced back in the second game of Friday's doubleheader. The Hokies jumped out to an 11-1 lead thanks to a pair of five-run innings and went on to run-rule UVa 14-4 in five innings. Courtney Liddle, Betty Rose and Stephanie Kujawa all went deep for the Hokies.
Kristen Froehlich broke things open for Tech in the second inning with a three-RBI double to give the Hokies a 4-1 lead. She added her fourth RBI of the game in the third inning. Starting pitcher Kenzie Roark went 5.0 IP and gave up four runs, two earned on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
Game 3: Virginia 6, Virginia Tech 5
The Hokies took a 5-0 lead into the sixth inning before giving up three runs in the sixth and three more in the bottom of the seventh to lose in the final game of the series.
Ward and Richelle McGarva helped build the Hokies' lead as Ward went 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. McGarva hit a two-run homer as part of the three-run fourth that gave Tech its 5-0 lead.
Harrell got the start in Game 3 and held the Wahoos scoreless on four hits through the first five innings. However, she gave up a two-run triple with one out in the sixth to her final batter before being relieved by Roark. Roark gave up a two-out RBI single to make the score 5-3 before getting out of the inning.
In the seventh, Roark walked the bases loaded with two out, walked in two runs to tie the game. Harrell returned to the circle and gave up the game-winning single to Taylor Williams that gave UVa the game and the series. In 1.1 IP, Roark gave up three runs on two hits with four walks and no strikeouts.
The loss dropped the Hokies to 4-4 in ACC games decided by one-run or in extra innings. They're 7-8 overall in such games.
Pitching was nowhere to be found in Charlottesville this weekend as both the Hoos and Hokies hit over .350 in the three games and had an OPS over 1.000. Ward and Liddle led Tech offensively in the series, with Ward recording multi-hit games in all three games.
She finished the series 7-for-11 with two doubles, a triple, four RBIs, two stolen bases and five runs scored. Liddle went 5-for-10 with two doubles, a home run and 4 RBIs.
The Hokies now find themselves in fifth in the ACC at 8-7, one half game behind FSU for fourth. They're three games behind Maryland in the loss column for third, but host the Terps in two weeks. Maryland also has to face FSU and second-place North Carolina.
Next weekend, Tech hosts to last-place NC State Wolfpack, who are 3-10 in the ACC after splitting a pair of games against Maryland. It's a series the Hokies have to sweep to have a realistic shot at finishing third in the conference. The first game is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday in Blacksburg with a doubleheader scheduled for Noon Saturday.
Early in conference play, it was a lack of clutch hitting that cost the Hokies games. Now, in back-to-back weeks, their pitching has cost them chances to win series against teams at the top and bottom of the league standings. If they can just find some consistency, they'll be a really good team. For now, they're perfectly capable of beating teams that are better than they are and losing to teams they should take two or three games from.