Fresh off one of the most successful seasons in program history, the Virginia Tech softball team has started preparation for the 2022 campaign. Fans can get an early look at this year’s team starting next week in Salem as the Hokies begin their fall ball schedule.
Virginia Tech opens play Friday night, October 8 at Moyer Field in Salem against Carson Newman. The game, which is scheduled to be a 6:30 p.m. first pitch and last 10 innings, is being played in conjunction with a USA Softball Travel Tournament being held that weekend featuring 26 teams from the Mid-Atlantic Region.
“It’s a great opportunity for all fans in the Roanoke Valley to see us play,” Virginia Tech head coach Pete D’Amour said, pointing out that it’s essentially a road game, which should help with preparation in the future.
The Hokies will then return to Tech Softball Park to play their remaining fall ball games:
Tuesday, 10/12 Wingate 11:30 a.m.
Friday, 10/15 Shepherd 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, 10/17 King 12:00 p.m.
Friday, 10/22 UVA-Wise 6:30 p.m.
Expectations are high for this year’s squad after last year’s run to the Super Regionals, only the second such appearance in program history.
“We were 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.”
He later added that he wanted to see more consistency in hitting and infield defense, as well as more pitching depth behind ACC Pitcher of the Year and NFCA All-American Keely Rochard, who is returning for her fifth year.
D’Amour has often said that the fall is the time for player development, and he likes what he has seen so far.
“I like where this team is headed,” he said. “We seem to be focused on steady improvement. We’re better now than our first practice a month ago – we just have to keep at it.”
The Hokies return all their primary starters from last year, including six players who batted .297 or better: Cameron Fagan (.409), Kelsey Brown (.384), Alexa Milius (.330), Kelsey Bennett (.314), Jayme Bailey (.309) and Addy Greene (.297). They will be joined by one of the highest ranked recruiting classes in school history.
“The returning players have been awesome from a leadership standpoint,” D’Amour said. “They’ve been really helpful to the newcomers in all aspects on and off the field.”
The newcomers include six high school signees and senior transfer Ally Repko (Broadway, Va.). Repko, who played travel ball with the Williamsburg Starz, played primarily third base and catcher last season for Elon, where she hit .340 with nine home runs.
The freshmen class is highlighted by two players in Extra Innings Softball Top 30 Recruits for 2021: Infielder Brianna Peck (#21) from Royersford, Pa., and pitcher Emma Lemley (#30) from Forest, Va.
Peck was a three-time Pennsylvania 6A first-team all-state player, the 2019 PA Gatorade High School Softball Player of the Year, and a First Team Extra Inning Softball High School All-American. Lemley, a powerful right-handed pitcher who has been clocked in the upper 60s, had a tremendous summer pitching against some of the best talent in the country in the Alliance Championships, not giving up a run in 15-plus innings and striking out 29 batters.
They are joined by fellow freshmen and utility players Alison Carter (Stafford, Va.), Rachel Castine (Chesapeake, Va.), and Ari Wright (Canton, Ga.), and infielder Catie Hopkins (Woodbridge, Va.).
“I’m also excited about our newcomers,” D’Amour said. “They are all athletic and quick learners. I’m anxious to see them against outside competition.”
That opportunity will happen next week.