Virginia Tech Wins Top-Five Series at Florida State On National Stage

Addy Greene (center) celebrates after inside-the-park grand slam on Sunday at Florida State. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

No. 5 Virginia Tech softball went into Tallahassee this weekend with guns blazing, scoring 35 runs and winning two-of-three games at No. 3 Florida State. Message delivered, loud and clear: Tech cannot just compete with, but can also beat, the best.

It was the biggest regular season series in ACC history, but the Hokies never blinked, even in front of an FSU record crowd of 1,731 for an ACC game on Saturday.

“I haven’t experienced an ACC series like that since I’ve been at VT,” Tech head coach Pete D’Amour told Tech Sideline. “Every play and every at bat mattered. We bounced back well from any mishaps we had during the first two games and found a way to win. The fight in our team is always there. I’m proud of our athletes.”

Although Florida State won Sunday’s finale, the Hokies left Tallahassee with an overall record of 29-5 and a 13-1 mark in the ACC.

ACC standings as of Tuesday, April 12.

The Hokies showed amazing resilience in the opening game, winning 6-3 in nine innings on Friday night. Tech handed FSU ace Kathryn Sandercock her first loss of the year (19-1).

On Saturday, the Hokies jumped out to an 11-0 lead after three innings only to see Florida State score nine runs in the fourth inning. However, VT responded with the final 12 runs of the game to register a 23-9 win. The game set a record for both teams: Tech scored the most runs in a single game in program history, while FSU recorded the most runs allowed in a single game in its school history.

On Sunday, things got totally crazy as the Hokies had their eyes set on a series sweep. Virginia Tech held a 6-3 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning before a series of illegal pitch calls on freshman Emma Lemley set the table for the Seminoles to score five runs to register the series win.

The illegal pitch calls, which can result in a pitch being called a ball instead of the actual play (i.e., ball instead of strikeout), took two strikeouts and a popup off the board for Tech. FSU cashed in the extra chances to score five runs and get the win. Both D’Amour and pitching coach Doug Gillis were separately ejected from the game after protesting the calls.

“We’ve gone roughly a month of conference games with Emma in the circle with minimal to zero illegal pitches being called on her,” D’Amour said. “There are a lot of mischaracterizations of what she’s doing. What she does is not a crow hop or a replant. The young lady is extremely strong and athletic, she goes over her drag toe more athletically than most pitchers. Many pitchers do this in the country though. We call it an ‘air-born drag.’

“There’s actually no advantage to what she’s doing. In fact, the higher she would get, the shorter her stride would be, which would be a disadvantage for her. … We’ll figure out a way to hamper her athleticism and conform to the rule.”

Since Sunday, D’Amour has received numerous pictures of other pitchers who have similar pitching styles as Lemley (i.e., both feet in the air), but are not being called.

“It’s interesting to see how many pitchers in the country are doing the exact same thing,” D’Amour told the Roanoke Times’ Mark Berman. “Most are not getting called.”

Meredith Slaw (left) was 7-for-10 over the weekend, while Darby Trull (right) was 4-for-9. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Offensively, the Hokies were simply on fire this weekend.

Although they were hitting against a pitching staff with an ERA of 1.26 and almost 7 strikeouts per game, the Hokies’ bats were on fire. For the three games, the Hokies racked up the following numbers:

  • 35 runs
  • 34 hits
  • 14 extra base hits including 7 HRs
  • Only 7 strikeouts in 103 at bats

Meredith Slaw was outstanding in the DP role this weekend and may have locked it down with a 7-for-10 performance that included three home runs, a double, and 7 RBIs. She provided two clutch at-bats in the fifth and eighth innings on Friday when Tech trailed, homering twice to left field and giving the Hokies the lead.

In her last eight games, Slaw is hitting .545 (12-22) with four home runs. For her effort over the weekend at Florida State, she was named the ACC Player of the Week.

Darby Trull went 4-for-9 with a home run, a double, and 4 RBIs. Cameron Fagan and Kelsey Bennett each drove in four runs over the weekend.

The Hokies continue to show great depth. Both Ally Repko and Grace Chavez came off the bench to drive in two runs each and Addy Greene went 2-for-3 and crushed this inside-the-park grand slam on Sunday.

Although the Hokies were not flawless in the field, Mackenzie Lawter threw out two FSU base stealers and Trull gunned down a runner at the plate from center field.

As would be expected, D’Amour was pleased with his team.

“Not many teams go into Tallahassee and win a series,” D’Amour said, “and certainly there aren’t any teams that go in there and score 23 runs in a game. We proved we’re a formidable club to those who may not have seen us play yet.”

It’s safe to say that the Hokies are being noticed across the country. National Softball Broadcaster and writer Eric Lopez, who saw the Hokies in person at UCF, couldn’t stop gushing about the Hokies on Monday’s In the Circle Podcast.

“Virginia Tech went into Tallahassee and dominated FSU and took control of the ACC,” Lopez said. “If people didn’t believe me when I said last week that this team was a legitimate women’s World Series team… I think people now know after this weekend.

“Virginia Tech is well coached, they have depth offensively, they can hit for power, and they are a good fielding team. This team is the complete package.”

Extra Innings Softball reporter Justin McLeod shared Lopez’s opinion.

“This week showed the world what Virginia Tech is made of,” McLeod said. “To go into Tallahassee and do to Florida State what Virginia Tech did is pretty darn impressive. This weekend just solidified just how good they are.”

On Tuesday morning, the Hokies jumped up to No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and up to No. 3 in ESPN’s rankings.

Virginia Tech travels to Liberty on Tuesday for a non-conference contest before hosting Virginia in a three-game series starting Thursday at Tech Softball Park.

Weekend Box Scores: Game 1, Game 2, Game 3

15 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I really appreciate all the coverage, Chip. You’ve done so much for Hokie softball. I do want to offer one thought. In your article describing the Friday night win, and again in this article, you chose not to identify anyone who made throwing errors. The Friday article said a ball “was thrown over the first baseman’s head,” for example. If the VT softball program is going to run with the big programs, then I think the team as a whole and the players should expect to be scrutinized for better or for worse. Freshman Bre Peck is tearing it up at the plate and is clearly a natural as a hitter. But Bre nearly cost VT the game Friday night with a wild throw from third, and air-mailed one on Sunday as well. I would find it interesting and relevant for her play at third to be talked about, both by her and by the coach. I believe “full disclosure” is the order of the day when covering any Hokie sport, and especially one that has one of the top teams in the country — not to pick at negatives, but not to gloss over them, either.

    1. I certainly respect your point of view, but that’s not my style.

      The following is part of a post I made on the softball board on Monday:

      “Most of you know that Ms. VTChip and I consider these ladies to be our adopted granddaughters, so I won’t pretend to be objective and I realize that I’m overly protective.

      “Coach D’Amour told me one time that “the team lives for your articles –we’ll be on the bus and they hear that your article is posted and they all break out their phones.” Well that was flattering, but it also made me think about the things I write.

      “So you won’t find me saying that “Bobbie Sue made three errors that cost VT the game.” Bobbie Sue knows that and already feels bad. However, I will write “VT committed three errors that led to four runs that ultimately proved to be the difference in the game.” If that makes me a homer and a bad writer, so be it. I can live with that.”

      Again, I respect your point of view, but that’s not me.

      1. Really appreciate your writing style Chip- clean, concise and gives us the positive outlook on a special group of women who have much talent.

        The world of internet sports writing critics is super saturated with negativity. I find it refreshing that you accentuate the positive and give us the more personal side of these athletes- lovely, smart, hard working young women.

  2. Inside the park grand slam may be the play of the year. “May” because this team isn’t done yet.

  3. I watched this team in Orlando in front of a sold out crowd and I am very excited & please with the results. I was good VT won 4 of 6 games vs strong ranked Florida teams. I hope this team continue to improve and stay focus until the end; because I do believe they are truly one of the top 4 teams in the country.

  4. Super piece, Chip. Thanks for the detail, tight descriptions and the great videos.
    We’re lucky to have this team, and that includes you.

  5. Great recap of a wild, crazy, and entertaining weekend of competition with all sorts of twists and turns. While the illegal pitches may have dominated the message board chatter, the key takeaway and main headline from the weekend should be how the Hokies dominated a perennial power and officially announced their presence on the national stage! I think you captured it all well here, Chip.

  6. Enjoy your reports Chip, your enthusiasm for this team really comes through and it’s contagious!

  7. Wow what an amazing weekend for VT softball! Very unfortunate that the umpires chose to unnecessarily influence the outcome of game 3 …. they should have just let the athletes continue to compete hard and decide it. Setting that chaos aside, I’ll choose to remember Game 3 for Greene’s go ahead bomb, Keely’s incredible toughness to come back in and Emma’s professionalism and maturity at the end.

    Games 1 and 2 were both instant classics. Anyone who watched those two games has no doubt that VT is the top team in the ACC right now. Let’s keep it going!

    Setting the wins and losses aside, the team is just fun to watch. They compete hard, play as a team and have a ton of fun doing it … amazing to watch.

    Go Hokies!

  8. Great article Chip, and thanks for all your awesome insight on the softball message board. I urge anyone that hasnt checked out the softball board yet to give it a look. This team is having an amazing year! Go Hokies!

    1. Emma is strong like bull! She must have some kind of highly developed core and leg muscles- such instant burst off that mound🔥

      Im no softball expert but i pitched a bit thru my school days. She is going to be a rocket before shes done!

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