Two extra-innings victories helped Virginia Tech's softball team win its series at Florida State this weekend. The wins put the Hokies at 6-3 in the ACC and third in the conference standings behind 7-2 North Carolina and next week's opponent, 6-0 Georgia Tech.
Tech managed just three singles in a 1-0 loss in the first game of its double-header with the Seminoles Saturday. FSU pitcher Sarah Hamilton walked one and struck out 10 to out-duel Virginia Tech's Jasmin Harrell. A home run by Seminole catcher Jen Lapicki in the sixth was the game's only run.
In game two, Tech got a dominant pitching performance from Kenzie Roark in a 2-1 win in 10 innings. Roark gave up an unearned run in the first inning. She then outlasted Jessica Nori and Hamilton by scattering five singles over the next nine innings.
Tech finally scored in the 10th on a fielder's choice by Richelle McGarva to take the lead. Roark gave up a one-out single in the bottom of the inning, but closed out the win to tie the series.
Harrell started Sunday's rubber match and actually received some run support as the Hokies took a 3-0 lead after three innings. However, she gave up a pair of solo home runs in the fifth and gave way to Roark, who went the rest of the way.
She gave up the tying run on a ground out in the sixth, but stranded the bases loaded in the seventh to force extra innings. Tech scored on another fielder's choice, this one by Laura Wolff, to take the lead in the eighth and Roark closed the game out to claim the series victory.
In the series, Roark gave up two runs, one earned on nine singles over 13.2 IP with four walks and six strikeouts. It was a good turnaround for her after she gave up eight runs in 7.0 IP in two appearances against BC last weekend. Harrell also pitched well, giving up three runs on three solo home runs over 10.1 IP with a walk and nine strikeouts.
The two combined to hold FSU to a .217 average and .258 on-base percentage, but they continue to have problems with extra-base hits. Harrell has now allowed eight home runs and four doubles in seven ACC appearances.
The Hokies continue to get solid pitching in ACC play, but are still having trouble getting clutch hits. Tech was able to pull off two extra-innings wins thanks to a pair of fielder's choices, but left 15 runners in scoring position over the weekend. Tech hit .182 with a .227 slugging percentage against the Seminoles. It's hitting .225 and slugging .322 in nine ACC games this year.
One player who fared well at the plate for the Hokies against FSU was Ashton Ward. She went 5-for-9 with two of the Hokies' four doubles for the series and two RBIs. She's now leads the Hokies with a .370 average in ACC play with three RBIs.
They'll need more good pitching and better hitting this weekend against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are 6-0 in ACC play this year, out-scoring their conference foes 38-13, including a 14-0 win over NC State last weekend. The Yellow Jackets have won 19 consecutive conference series, an ACC record. They've won 13 consecutive games against ACC opponents going back to last season.
The Hokies have lost six of their last seven against the Yellow Jackets. They'll do well to claim one game against the Jackets in the three game series, but will have a chance if they continue to get solid pitching that keeps them in games late.
The Hokies will host a double-header against the Yellow Jackets beginning at Noon on Saturday, April 9 at Tech Softball Park. Game 3 will be at 1 p.m. Sunday.