Virginia Tech And Florida To Square Off For Super Regional Title

Virginia Tech plays for a Women’s College World Series appearance on Sunday. (Ivan Morozov)

The Blacksburg Super Regional will come down to a winner-take-all game on Sunday between No. 3 Virginia Tech (46-9) and No. 14 Florida (47-17).

The teams split the first two contests of the series on Saturday – the Hokies won game one, 6-0, while Florida took game two, 7-2. First pitch for game three is at 2 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPN.

“We’ll have a ‘fresher’ Keely (Rochard) tomorrow,” Hokies head coach Pete D’Amour told Tech Sideline after game two on Saturday. “She’ll give us a chance to win. We need to play cleaner defense and get a clutch hit or two and we’ll be ok.”

Tech did just that in the first game of the series, defeating Florida 6-0 in a game that started Friday afternoon but didn’t finish until Saturday morning because of weather. 

Rochard threw a four-hit shutout and the Hokies gave her plenty of offensive support with 11 base hits. Emma Ritter and Cameron Fagan provided long ball support by driving in five of the six runs. Both hit home runs – Ritter blasted a pair of solo bombs while Fagan added a key three-run shot in the second inning to break the game open.

Less than 90 minutes later, game two got underway with freshman Emma Lemley in the circle for Virginia Tech. She was plagued by a number of early illegal pitch calls and D’Amour admitted afterwards that it impacted her pitch selection.

“Emma threw well,” D’Amour said. “I don’t want to comment on why she was throwing what she had to throw – that will get me in trouble. She battled, she threw hard, she just had to pipe too many pitches. … [The illegal pitch calls] affected her – how could it not? She worked behind a little too much and had to throw hittable pitches.”

Emma Lemley pitched well for the Hokies, but illegal pitches impacted her. (Ivan Morozov)

After going down early, the Hokies took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth thanks to two pinch-hit RBIs. Ally Repko plated the first run in the fourth inning with a bases-loaded walk and Morgan Overaitis drove in the second run in the fifth with a double to right field.

However, the Gators struck for four runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a lead they didn’t relinquish.

The biggest issue for Virginia Tech was not getting key hits when opportunity presented itself. The team left nine runners on base in the first five innings; four of those times came with runners in scoring position with one out.

“We had chances to score runs that game,” D’Amour lamented. “We walked seven times with five hits and left 10 on. In [the] postseason, you’ve got to cash in when you have opportunities, and we just didn’t today.”

“They had good changeup,” Ritter said of Florida’s pitching. “I think that will be our biggest adjustment tomorrow.”

Winning the first game of a Super Regional and dropping the second brought back memories from last season when UCLA defeated the Hokies in game three, 6-0. However, the Bruins were facing a Rochard that had thrown all 14 innings of the first two games.

Keely Rochard will start in the circle in Tech’s win-or-go-home game. (Ivan Morozov)

This series, Rochard has thrown only eight innings (all scoreless) in the first two games. D’Amour feels that’s a significant difference.

“Yeah, it’s a big deal,” D’Amour said. “I told the players after the game that we got a fresh Keely tomorrow, so here we go. I have a lot of confidence in Keely Rochard. She’s won me a lot of big games and she gets the ball tomorrow.”

Florida will likely counter with either Game 1 starter Elizabeth Hightower or Game 2 starter Lexie Delbrey.

“We’ve shown the past two weeks that we’re a fighting team,” Ritter said. “We can go out there and compete with anybody, so I think it’s just going out there and playing hard keeping the same mindset. … We’re playing for the future, not the past.”

The Hokies have won every three-game series this season – a point that wasn’t lost on Florida coach Tim Walton.

“I heard a statistic the other day,” Walton said after Saturday’s second game. “I don’t think this (VT) team has lost two games in a row all season. … I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I know a reason why – because of really good offense, really good defense and really good pitching, and a really good crowd.”

The crowd, announced as 1,987, was also noticed by D’Amour.

It was a great crowd at Tech Softball Park on Saturday. (Ivan Morozov)

“It was another great atmosphere today,” D’Amour said. “We’re grateful for our fans and the spirit they bring to the stadium. I know we can count on them again Sunday.”

Box Scores:

Game One: Virginia Tech 6, Florida 0
Game Two: Florida 7, Virginia Tech 2

5 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Indeed Hokies are 8-0 following a loss this season. They’ve done it in a couple different ways – 2 dominating pitching performance shutouts (Evansville 5-0 and St.Francis 4-0), 3 comeback wins (MTSU 3-2, UVA 5-4, Miami 5-4), and 3 solid wins over tournament teams (Clemson 6-1, FSU 6-3, Liberty 8-1). Stay positive out there at TSP today, Hokie fans! Here’s to making it 9-0!

  2. It’s been a very special season so far folks. Let’s all go out there today and be loud, be positive, and cheer this team to one more win so our seniors can experience OKC.

  3. Let’s make some gator gumbo out of the Florida team.

    Keely and Emma L just smoke `em and force into K’s or ground balls to 2nd or SS.

    Jayme, Kelsey B1, Kelsey B2, Darby, Emma R, Bre, Morgan, Big MacK, Cameron, Meridith hit `em where they ain’t. Over the wall, off the wall, into the gap, through the gap, or maybe the ball can find a way under the glove, over the glove, around the glove, sometimes the ball has eyes of its own.

    GO HOKIES!!!

  4. Don’t really understand the illegal pitch rule for not having one foot on the ground since the pitching guru’s say leaving the ground negatively impacts the velocity of the pitch. Seems like the NCAA should think about eliminating this rule in the near future. In any event, I hope the Hokies play a clean game tomorrow and get some timely hittting – these ladies have worked too hard to not make the finals.

    1. I’ve been reading softball rules boards for hours on just pitching rules.

      Softball has a host of technique rules for pitches and the no jump no replant rules are the holy grail.

      Its been a point of emphasis on and off for 25 years and ncaa especially is inconsistent in enforcement.

      I found a NCAA sponsored commentary with video snippets on THE BEST 11 PITCHERS OF ALL TIME. Guess what? U watch several of these powerhouse pitchers with stop action and they leave ground with both feet in air and a couple of the taller ones land their landing support foot on the chalk circle around the mound.

      The reality is that in 2022 u better not come straight out of high school jumping off the rubber. Some officials take it as a challenge to their authority and WILL break u down like COOL HAND LUKE🔥

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