Hokies Punch Their Ticket to the Super Regionals

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Virginia Tech Softball
Virginia Tech captured the Tempe Regional championship, winning three games by a combined score of 24-7 to advance to a Super Regional next weekend. (Dave Knachel, Virginia Tech Athletics)

For the first time since 2008, the #21/#22 Virginia Tech softball team is headed back to the Super Regionals. The Hokies (36-13) capped off an amazing three days in Tempe, Arizona with a walk-off, 11-3 run-rule win over Brigham Young Saturday afternoon to clinch the Tempe Regional championship.

The Hokies blasted five home runs in the victory, capped off by Alexis Milius’ solo shot in the bottom of the fifth that created the run-rule margin of eight runs and caused the Hokies to come pouring out of their dugout to celebrate. Milius’ dinger followed earlier round trippers by Kelsey Bennett, pinch hitter Grace Chavez, Jayme Bailey, and Cameron Fagan.

“It’s awesome,” said Bennett. “It’s a moment to remember for us. Twenty-six players showed up and twenty-six players did their job, and the outcome is good for us. What a team. BYU battled back and forth, but we didn’t let up – we came right back at them.”

“It’s hard to describe what winning a regional means to us,” Tech head coach Pete D’Amour said. “There’s just a mindset on this team…When one kid is not performing another picks it up. That’s what good teams do.”

The Hokies’ offensive numbers for the three-game regional series were impressive: a team batting average of .456 (42 for 92), 24 runs scored, and eight home runs.

“We’re just hot,” said D’Amour in the understatement of the weekend. “I’ve said since the fall that we could hit. I’m just glad we brought the bats on the planes with us.”

Kelsey Bennett Virginia Tech Softball
Virginia Tech celebrates a home run by Kelsey Bennett (8) (Dave Knachel, Virginia Tech Athletics)

The Hokies were led by Bennett, who was an amazing 9-for-11 for the weekend, including two home runs that extended her team leading total to 13. Alexis Milius has settled in nicely in the third spot in the batting order, hitting .636 (7-for-11) for the series with two HRs of her own. She led the team in runs batted in this weekend with five.

“I’m just seeing the ball, being selective at the plate and swinging at my pitches,” said Bennett. “Just knowing what you can hit hard and swinging.”

The Hokies wasted little time jumping on the Cougars in the first inning when two BYU errors created VT baserunners, and singles by Milius and Bennett drove in two runs. The second of the two scores came on a controversial obstruction call that led to BYU Coach Gordon Eakin being ejected from the game for arguing his case. The Hokies would end up scoring in every inning on the way to the lopsided win.

“You’ve got to tip your hat to them, said BYU Associate Head Coach Pete Meredith. They’re a good team, they played hard, and they were the better team today.”

The top of the order continues to set the table for the Hokies with Kelsey Brown and Cameron Fagan going a combined 9-for-24 this weekend (.375).

Keely Rochard Virginia Tech Softball
Hokies ace Keely Rochard struck out 27 batters in 19 innings over the weekend. (Dave Knachel, Virginia Tech Athletics)

In the circle, the Hokies were once again led by Ace Keely Rochard, who picked up her third win in as many days. Rochard was one out away from a five-inning run-rule shutout when she surrendered a three-run home run to the Cougars Huntyr Ava, a batter that she had struck out four times during two games. But the Hokies responded in the bottom of the fifth with Fagan blasting a two run shot to center field and Alexis following with her game winner.

With having a one loss cushion entering the day’s play, D’Amour admitted he struggled a bit with the decision of whom to start in the circle.

“I was back and forth all night,” he said. “I probably didn’t sleep an hour all night. But it came down to what got us here. Why change anything. You don’t want to get to game two where anything can happen. So we went with what got us here and that was Keely.”

Rochard justified his decision, striking out 11 on the day. “I thought Keely had good velocity,” he said. “She had better spin than she had the first time against BYU. To get 11 Ks the second time you see a team, you’re doing something right.”

D’Amour was understandably pleased with his team’s performance this weekend. “I came to Blacksburg to win at this level,” he said. “I thought we could do it. We have Keely, a good offense, good defense, and good team chemistry. To do it on the road is hard. To do it at a Regional is hard. But it’s sweet no matter where it is.”

Now the Hokies turn their attention to their next opponent – the winner of the region that is being hosted by #2 national seed, UCLA. Most observers believe that it’s a foregone conclusion that the Bruins, a College World Series favorite, will be the winners of the region, but the Hokies aren’t intimidated.

“Our approach will be the same,” says Bennett. “Swing and be selective. Keely is the type of pitcher that we’ll go to war for. She has our back and we have hers. We won’t change anything.”

We’ll have more about the Super Regional later this week.

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21 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Finally, we have a team that exceeded expectations (vs seeding or in an underdog match up) in post season. Feels like it’s been a long time. Way to go Lady Hokies! It’s been fun watching them play this year. Got a little discouraged after the ND sweep but we bounced back, something the guys haven’t been able to do.

  2. Maybe I’m being affected by my natural “Hokie Insecurity”, but this comment by the BYU Asst. Coach really irked me.

    “You’ve got to tip your hat to them. They’re a good team, they played hard, and they were the better team today.”

    No crap, VT was the better team yesterday, AND they were the better team the previous time the two played. Perhaps, just perhaps, VT IS the better team.

    1. I think a bit nit-picky. If VT loses two in a row to UCLA, I wouldn’t be upset if our coach said the same thing. All of the teams that made the regionals have had stellar seasons and are capable of winning. I’m sure if BYU played their best ball (eg: they didn’t have errors which really set them back), then they can beat VT if we don’t play our best ball.

  3. Such a fun team to watch. Appreciate the in-depth article on the win. Looking forward to next weekend!

  4. Thank you for all the kind comments. It has been a great year and the team and coaches are simply amazing people. I love it when good things happen to good people, and these are good people. ❤️

    I excused myself from the press area yesterday during the 5th inning and allowed myself to be a fan. Dang, was that fun! You would have thought BYU had taken the lead the way their fans reacted after the 3 run bomb, which made the walk off that much sweeter.

    I LOVE this team!

  5. The warrior in Rochard was evident in the inning where BYU got the first two batters on and then bang, bang, bang, she struck out the next three. Man, I’m probably a proponent of her number going up on the fence next to Tincher….

    1. Yah, the big difference between Tincher’s teams and this team is Tincher’s teams were pretty “no-hit” all pitcher. Now we have a very good pitcher and a good-, albeit streaky at times, hitting team.

  6. Without getting too deep, it’s been a long year, that was refreshing. I saw them play at GW the 2nd to last game they played last spring, they were going places last year too, you could feel it,. anyway, water over the dam, VT softball is here and now deep into the post-season. Congrats! That was fun.

  7. Well done, Hokies!! I’m sure my Hoosier grad niece living in Phoenix heard the Hokies referenced more than enough all week! (She Also heard Hokies much while growing up in Midwest since their mom my little sis is a Hoo 😂🤣!) way to represent, Lady Hokies!!!!

  8. So glad to see Keely smiling in the team photo. she is SO focused during the game; nothing seems to upset her.

    1. I wouldn’t want to play Poker with Keely. No expression in the circle, doubt if it changes with either a good or bad hand at the Poker table.
      GO HOKIES!!!

  9. Thank you for all you do for our team, and for all of the softball supporters, of which I am one.
    You have made following our team easier for all of us, and we love it.
    Let’s go Hokies !!!

  10. Great job ladies, Pete and you Chip as well for your dedication in doing this. I know you’re having fun with it too, but your efforts have definitely pushed softball interest on TSL and therefore across all VT Fans as well.

    1. +1. Great article. Such a great weekend…and so much fun to watch! Many of us have forgotten what it feels like to win as Hokies. And it feels pretty good!

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