It was a slightly different recipe, but the No. 5 Hokies continued their hot start to the season with a sweep of North Carolina this weekend, outscoring the Tar Heels 27-6 in the process.
The sweep included two five-inning, run-rule wins on Friday (10-0) and Sunday (9-1) sandwiched around an 8-5 victory on Saturday.
The wins moves Virginia Tech to an overall record of 21-3 and a perfect 9-0 in the ACC. With Duke’s loss to Clemson on Saturday, Tech is the only undefeated team in the conference.
The story of the weekend was the Virginia Tech bats, which hit .408 for the series (31-for-76) and plated runs in 13 of the 15 innings in which they batted. While there seemed to be a different “hero” each game, the top of the order was sizzling with Kelsey Brown (6-11, HR, 5 RBIs) and Cameron Fagan (5-9, HR, 2 doubles, 4 RBIs) setting the stage for the rest of the lineup.
The Hokies were offensively challenged early in the season, but since head coach Pete D’Amour moved from the third base box to the dugout when VT is batting, the Hokies have hit .382 as a team.
“I wasn’t surprised this weekend,” D’Amour said. “I have regularly said that this is one of the best offenses I’ve been around in 15 years.”
Brown got the Hokies started in the second inning on Friday night with this grand slam off the scoreboard.
A great time to hit your first run of the season 🤩
Hokies up 5-0. pic.twitter.com/hNvOV1FmFw
— Virginia Tech Softball (@HokiesSoftball) March 18, 2022
On Saturday, the Hokies fell behind 3-0 in the first inning before Fagan tied the game in the second with a two-run blast off the scoreboard. Freshman Bre Peck followed later in the game with a bomb of her own – her fifth of the year.
Peck’s blast was a continuation of her recent torrid hitting. In her last six games, she’s batted .667 (10-15) with three home runs and nine RBIs.
D’Amour alternated his DP slot during the three games and all three players delivered. Both Ally Repko and Morgan Overaitis went 1-for-3 during the first two games and Alexa Milius was a perfect 3-for3 on Sunday and drove in four runs, including this two-run dinger into the center field camera well.
A. MILI 🤩
Alexa goes yard for a 2-0 Hokie lead 🔥 pic.twitter.com/5HTESllc3p
— Virginia Tech Softball (@HokiesSoftball) March 20, 2022
In the circle, Keely Rochard picked up two more wins and a save to move her record to 11-2 with an ERA of 1.17. Emma Lemley (8-1) picked up the Saturday win despite giving up two Tar Heel home runs – her toughest outing of the season. Still, she has an excellent ERA (1.41) and showed no damage from taking a line drive off of her ankle during the Saturday game.
“It’s hard to find something to be critical about from this weekend,” D’Amour said. “I thought we came out a little flat in the top of the first in game two, but other than that we played well.”
Saturday’s game was watched by a capacity crowd and was noticed by the rest of the country.
— NCAA Softball (@NCAASoftball) March 19, 2022
The Hokie faithful was loud and the Hokies players and coaches noticed.
“It was so awesome to have a full house,” Hokies shortstop Kelsey Bennett said. “It the first time we’ve been able to do that since 2019 and we really appreciate the support.”
“The crowd support this weekend was what we were hoping for,” D’Amour added. “We’ve played in some pretty intimidating venues this year and it was nice to have fans cheering for us. One comment I heard was ‘we’ve never heard a roar like that at TSP. It gave me chills.’ What a great atmosphere.”
The Hokies now take to the road for the next 12 games before returning for a series against UVA on April 14. And while they’ve had a great start to the season, there is a long way to go.
“I told the ladies after the game today that we’re heading into an interesting part of the season,” D’Amour said. “The weather is getting nicer, the end of the semester is near, graduation is coming up for some, roles are more defined. … It’s very easy to start having thoughts other than softball. We must be mindful of that. We need to have the same mindset and preparation that we’ve had since January, or we’ll waste the year we’ve had so far.”
But D’Amour was emphatic in mentioning another accomplishment that Hokie fans may not know about.
“As we see the end of the semester in sight, I think that Tech softball fans would like to know that we are absolutely tearing it up in the classroom,” bragged the Hokies skipper. “We’re on track for one of the best GPA semesters since I’ve been here.”
The Hokies travel to Longwood for a Tuesday doubleheader and then to Pittsburgh next weekend for the next ACC series. TSL will have a preview later in the week.