Virginia Tech Softball’s Dream Season Ends With Loss To UCLA

Virginia Tech catcher Mackenzie Lawter played great behind the plate. (Adele Addington)

A magical season for Virginia Tech softball came to an end Saturday night in Los Angeles as the Hokies fell to UCLA 6-0 in the deciding game of the Super Regional. The loss ends the Hokies’ season at 37-15 as the team fell one win short of qualifying for the College World Series.

“There’s nothing to hang our heads about,” said Coach Pete D’Amour. “We’re just going to build on it…. Everybody’s back so we should be pretty formidable for the next couple of years, at least. If we do our jobs recruiting-wise and build on it, we should be good for the foreseeable future.”

After exploding for 11 hits in Game 1 of the series, the Hokies’ bats followed up their one hit performance of Friday night with a two-hit performance Saturday night.  D’Amour was quick to credit UCLA ace and Team USA Olympian Rachel Garcia, who was much more effective Saturday night than in the series opening game Thursday. 

“Garcia had more zip tonight,” said D’Amour. “She was throwing harder. We just couldn’t get the barrel (of the bat) on the ball.” 

Garcia ended up striking out 13 Virginia Tech batters.

The Hokies’ Keely Rochard was a warrior to then end, but it became apparent early that the Bruins had zeroed in on her.  

“It’s hard facing any team three times,” said Rochard. “And they’re really good…they made great adjustments.”

Nevertheless, Rochard was proud of what she and her Hokie teammates accomplished this year.

“I’ll remember how well this team meshed together,” said the Hokies’ ace.  “We really clicked on all cylinders. I’m just glad I’ve helped put our team on the map.  Hopefully people will see Virginia Tech as more of a powerhouse team in the future.”

D’Amour was proud of his Hokie hurler.

“Keely is the kid you want to build your program around.  I’m just thankful that she’s in our program. She didn’t have a lot tonight, but she went out and gave us what she had. I’m proud of her.”

One of the bright spots of the night was the play of Virginia Tech catcher Mackenzie Lawter, who made three highlight plays: a diving tag at the plate, a diving catch of a foul pop, and a bullet throw to second to catch a would-be Bruin base stealer.

“(Lawter) is awesome,” said D’Amour.  “She plays her heart out every game. She’s caught 99% of our games this year, battled through an injury. She’s blue collar – a hard worker. She’s an example of the type of kid that I want to build the program around.”

Just like in the Hokies’ Regional loss at Kentucky two years ago, D’Amour feels there are lessons learned that the program can build on. 

“We wouldn’t let them hang their heads after the game,” he said. “They’re one of the best 16 teams in the country.  The first game, we were loose and really had no expectations and we win the first game and then it’s ‘uh-oh, where do we go from here?’ Now we know what to expect (going forward).”

“We’re close to the World Series,” D’Amour said. “There’s an extra 2% that we need to do in everything in our entire program. There’s nothing to hang our head about, but we have to get better in the weight room, get better at practice, get better at scouting.    We’re close.  UCLA could win the national championship and we beat them one time on their field. We were in all three games until the last couple of innings tonight.”

Finally, D’Amour wanted to acknowledge the Hokies fans.

“We definitely felt the following of Virginia Tech,” said the coach. “Hopefully, they saw the brand of softball that we play.  We’re not a major sport, but people watched us this weekend that might not have ever watched softball before. I think we fit the bill of Virginia Tech as well as any sport on campus.  We play hard, we’re respectful.  I got a lot of comments that we were a professionally acting team this weekend, and that’s about the biggest compliment that I could have.  So I appreciate the following that we’re gathering, and I hope people keep supporting us because we definitely need it and we felt it.”

TSL will have a look back at the season and a look at the future of the program in the near future.

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  2. Thanks again Chip for all your great softball articles and all you do for our softball program. You are definitely the No. 1 Fan.

  3. What a season. Thank you ladies for an awesome year. And thank you Chip for taking us along for the ride!

  4. great tournaments, Ladies! you have nothing to hang your head about.
    we may have fallen a few hits, runs, and defensive outs short this year.
    but next years a comin’!
    thank you for an exciting season and lots of fun along the way.
    Go Hokies! which you certainly are.

  5. Really looking forward to watching this young team next year and bringing my girls to the games.

  6. My 12 year old daughter plays travel softball and we see a lot of VT gear on the weekends. People are taking notice!! Keep up the great work ladies and coaches. Great season!!

  7. Thank you Chip for your great coverage of a great Hokie team. I look forward to your WCWS coverage next season.

  8. Congratulations to the whole team and all of the staff. Could not be more proud of them!
    GO HOKIES!!!

  9. Proud of this team! Keely just ran of steam against one of the best softball programs in the nation. I hope everyone returns. Next season looks very promising with Keely returning. Our players will be a year older and wiser. Our pitching staff should improve with Osborne and Rosenberry being sophomores and with the addition of Emma Lemley. This team isn’t far away from the College World Series. The ACC should be more competitive in 2022 but that should make Tech even tougher when tournament time arrives. Maybe next season Chip can write TSL articles from the Blacksburg Regional/Super Regional and Oklahoma City.

    1. She “may” have ran out of steam but she held the defending champs, the #2 team in the country, the #2 seed in the tournament, to a earth shattering .176 batting average for the 3 games combined. She could have pitched 2 no-hitters in game 2 and 3, but to no avail – we scored nothing ourselves…

      1. Right, doesn’t matter who pitches.
        You don’t score, you don’t win.
        We seemed overmatched by their pitching the last two games. Kelsey Brown was hitting ground balls right at people and could not get on.

  10. Thanks, Chip for allowing us to go along for the ride. Your coverage was outstanding and one could tell that your heart was in it. Great job Coach D’Amour!! Your team plays a great brand of softball which is fun to watch. I’m looking forward to seeing games in person next season.

  11. Thanks for the great season. The bats went silent the last two nights after awakening in Tempe and the first night in LA. There is a young aggressive team in place, there are needs but the pieces are there. I had fun watching the team over the season and look forward to next year.

    GO HOKIES!!!

  12. Nice write up Chip. Great work as always on the VT softball coverage. Hope you had a blast out there covering Regionals and the Super Regionals.

  13. Thanks Chip for your great coverage of our wonderful softball team! You and they have opened our eyes this year! Looking forward to supporting our team in person next year!

  14. Lawter’s throw reminds me of the 2009 football game against Alabama – bear with me here – late in the game ‘Bama had the game in hand and one of their two 5 star running backs Ingram? Upchurch? was running free down the field. Instead of running away from lil’ ole 210# Cody Grimm, the only guy left between him and the goalpost, he ran at him, I suspect wanting to truck him for the highlight films. Cody stuck him perfectly and the game ended a few minutes later w/o an additional score.

    I saw the same here, yeah, we’re down and not coming back but hey bitch, we’re still here and playing hard. I’m sure UCLA wanted to run rule VT. Didn’t happen, not sorry.

    1. Cody was one of my favorites.
      He learned to overcome adversity, on & off field.
      Sorry I never met the man.

  15. It was a fun ride to follow the success of the team this year. The bandwagon is a lot more full than it was a short time ago, and hopefully we can all ride it to bigger and better things in the future. Thanks Chip for leading us fans through the journey this season!

  16. Great write up Chip. Looking forward to the upcoming article(s) on season recap and future of our program. To be honest, prior to this season, I haven’t followed our softball team. The availability to watch games on ACCN and other outlets along with reporting on TSL has opened up a new audience of VT supporters to our program.
    Hopefully the support will increase financially by us as this is a program that has potential to be in the elite category with Coach D’Amour.

  17. We have a good future, but we need to keep our coaches at Virginia Tech, and we need to continue to support our team.

  18. Interesting comment here “… we’re respectful. I got a lot of comments that we were a professionally acting team this weekend.” Glad to read that but aren’t other teams the same? Was UCLA not?

    1. One of course, is that’s true, they were and I would think any coach wants their team to stay composed when the going gets rough. but yeah, I think the comparison is left out there – compared to whom? – VT passed the test, scratching my head on who else did.

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