In a season in which it dominated its competition, Virginia Tech softball swept two games from Louisburg College on Friday, Oct. 28, 10-0 and 7-0, concluding fall ball.
The Louisburg games continued a trend by the Hokie hurlers, who have been in total shutdown mode during the fall, striking out 71 batters in 42 innings. A snapshot of the domination:
Freshman Lyndsey Grein: 8 innings, no runs, 2 hits, 15 strikeouts
Freshman Payton List: 6 innings, no runs, 2 hits, 7 strikeouts
Sophomore Emma Lemley: 10 perfect innings with 28 strikeouts (and two pop outs)
“Our pitching has been another highlight of our fall,” head coach Pete D’Amour told Tech Sideline. “All of our pitchers have improved. We have a lot of options going into the spring.”
Among those options is sophomore Bre Peck, who returned to the circle for the first time since high school and struck out 9 batters in 7 total innings. Redshirt sophomore Molly Jacobsen has pitched 11 innings in the fall games and fanned 12.
Of particular interest to Hokie fans is the elimination of Lemley’s illegal pitches. Not only has the sophomore been unhittable in the spring, but the issue seems to be totally in the past.
“Let’s put that to rest,” D’Amour said on the Hokie Sports Insider Podcast. “[Pitching coach] Doug [Gillis] and Emma have really worked hard and fixed it. … She’s throwing harder with better spin. … She’s at a different level this year.”
One of the biggest questions for this year’s squad is who will replace four-year starter Mackenzie Lawter behind the plate, but D’Amour doesn’t have any worries.
“We’ve been pleased with what we’ve seen behind the plate,” D’Amour said. “Kylie [Aldridge] and Rachel [Castine] have both had great falls on both sides of the field.”
Aldridge was 3-for-3 against Louisburg and hit her first collegiate home run. Castine, who is a sophomore, started four games for the Hokies last season at shortstop and designated player. The Chesapeake, Va. native hit her first collegiate home run in 2022 at Longwood.
The Virginia Tech offense clicked away in the fall ball games, scoring 61 runs in seven outings. Returning players Cameron Fagan, Emma Ritter, Jayme Bailey, Morgan Overaitis, Meredith Slaw, and Maija Louko all hit bombs while Kelsey Brown was 10-for-13 with five stolen bases.
The fall is a critical time for freshmen to get acclimated to the college game and Tech’s group seemed to do just that. Teagan Thrunk looked good in her first few games, going 3-for-5 with a HR before the flu bug sidelined her for the four final games. D’Amour told D1 Softball that she might start at shortstop this season.
Freshmen Trinity Martin led off the Tusculum game with a home run and List later homered in the second game. Emma Jackson was solid in the outfield and smacked a 2-RBI triple against Louisburg, and Megan Furr had a 2-run RBI against UVA-Wise. None of the newcomers were overwhelmed by the bright lights.
“Our freshmen acclimated well to what we do here,” D’Amour said. “Each of them has improved in their own specific ways.”
Overall, D’Amour was pleased with the fall season Virginia Tech put together.
“We’re better now than when we were at the end of August,” D’Amour said. “I don’t think we’re as good as we could be – we need to keep getting better. We need to keep working on swing changes and swinging harder over break. Now that team practice is over, the point of emphasis is on player development.
“We need to keep improving. We can’t say, ‘We had a good 45 days of team practice, we made Super Regionals last year, we’re good.’ These next few months will determine how good this team will be. Will we be training to compete or will we be training to win? Internal motivation will be especially important in the weeks ahead. I have a hunch we’ll continue to work hard.”