Emphatically rebounding from a 5 game losing streak, the #20/#19 Virginia Tech Softball team swept the Syracuse Orange this weekend by scores of 8-0, 11-1, 3-0, and 8-1. The series sweep, the Hokies’ first of the season, moves their record to 32-12, and 23-11 in the ACC.
The Sunday win also was the 100th for Coach Pete D’Amour as the Hokies head coach, giving him a Hokie career mark of 100 wins versus 27 losses, a winning percentage of .787. However, he was quick to share the credit for his success with others.
With only one weekend of ACC play remaining, the pairings for the ACC tournament are beginning to come into focus. Only the Top 10 teams qualify for the tournament, which will be held in Louisville beginning May 12th. Teams 7 through 10 will play an opening round game on Wednesday with the winners playing the first two seeds. The 3rd place team will play the 6th place team and the 4th place team will play the 5th place team.
It looks like the Hokies will finish fourth, but there are a couple of “what ifs.”
IF NC State wins two games versus Duke, the Hokies would jump the Blue Devils (.676 to .667). But if Notre Dame sweeps BC, the Irish would leapfrog the Hokies (.677 to .676).
Keely Rochard reemerged this weekend as one of the most dominant pitchers in Division 1 softball, recording all 4 wins and allowing the Orange just 7 hits and one run over 22 innings while striking out 37. She started the series with a Friday night no-hitter and flirted with duplicating the performance in her two Saturday outings. Freshmen Mackenzie Osborne got a solid three innings of work during this series and Ivy Rosenberry closed out the Sunday game.
“There aren’t many pitchers in college softball that can beat one team four times in one weekend,” said D’Amour about his pitching ace.
The Hokie bats reappeared in Syracuse, scoring a total of 30 runs in the four games. Kelsey Bennett batted .429 over the weekend, a mark that included a home run and a double, and she drove in a team high seven runs. Alexis Milius batted .444 (4 for 9) in the series, homered as well, and drove in five runs. Darby Trull hit her first dinger of the year on Sunday and Cameron Fagan hit her first HR since returning from injury. Cana Davis and Jayme Bailey also went yard over the weekend.
Much of that damage came against Cuse Graduate Student Alexa Romero, who had pitched very effectively in her previous six games against the Hokies, one of which was a no hitter.
“I don’t know if the average fan knows how good Romero was for Syracuse,” said D’Amour. “She’s a regional/super regional caliber pitcher, no question. We had competitive at bats against her all weekend.”
The Hokies played solid defense during the weekend, only committing two errors which were partially caused by a strong northeastern wind. “We were solid on defense, especially on the infield, said a pleased D’Amour. We’re getting to the point in the season where you take wins in any shape or form. This team took a mighty blow last week. And I’m thankful for their effort and the way they responded.”
Next up is a Tuesday rematch with the Liberty Flames, a team that beat the Hokies 5-3 in nine innings last Wednesday in Lynchburg. The Flames are 37-12 and have a Top 20 RPI, so the game will be critical for the Hokies’ NCAA seeding chances.
Virginia Tech Softball a Potential Regional Host
We've been chosen as a 𝙥𝙤𝙩𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙖𝙡 host for NCAA Regionals 🙌
— Virginia Tech Softball (@HokiesSoftball) April 30, 2021
The Hokies were chosen last week as one of 20 potential hosts for NCAA Regionals. The list of 20 potential candidates will be narrowed down to the 16 hosts during the NCAA Softball Selection Show on May 16. Despite having made the NCAA Tournament nine times, the Hokies have never hosted an NCAA Regional.