Virginia Tech had hoped to ride the considerable skill of pitching ace Angela Tincher to a regional championship, but it was not to be, not this year. Tincher lost twice on Saturday, falling first to Ohio State 2-1 and then to Cal State Fullerton 1-0 in the nightcap. Tincher struck out 18 batters Saturday to up her season total to 617, currently tied with Tennessee’s Monica Abbott for the third-highest single-season total in NCAA history.
Tincher got off to a rocky start in the first inning of the first game against Ohio State, surrendering a leadoff double followed by two walks. OSU scored on a sacrifice fly, then added an unearned run in the second. The two runs were all Ohio State would need. VT loaded the bases with one out in the top of the sixth but could only bring in one run, their only run of the game.
Tincher pitched all six innings for Tech, giving up one earned run on five hits and three walks. She struck out nine.
That bumped the Hokies to the loser’s bracket, where they played Cal State Fullerton in a 6 p.m. start. Tincher got the call in that game, as well, and though she gave up just two hits, one of them was a home run, to CSF pitcher Candice Baker in the top of the sixth.
CSF made the one run stand up for a 1-0 victory. The Hokies got four hits but couldn’t produce any runs. The Hokies put their first two batters on base in the bottom of the sixth, then popped up a bunt for the first out and hit two straight fly balls to end the inning.
The loss dropped Tincher (who also struck out nine against CSF) to 38-7 on the season. She set school single-season records of 38 wins, 617 strikeouts, a 0.55 ERA and 23 shutouts. The 617 strikeouts will wind up being the fourth-highest single-season total in NCAA history, barring something unforeseen. Tennessee’s Abbott, currently tied with Tincher, is still alive in the tournament and will pass Tincher with her next strikeout.
VT finishes 49-16 on the year, the second-most wins in program history, and next year Tech will return Tincher, eight starters in the field, and their #2 pitcher, rising sophomore Heather Lowry.