Season Comes To An End For Virginia Tech In Athens

Cameron Fagan and the Hokies couldn’t slow down Georgia’s hot bats on Sunday in Athens. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

The season came to an end for No. 23 Virginia Tech on Sunday afternoon with a 12-3, run-rule loss to No. 12 Georgia in the Athens Regional.

The Bulldogs (42-13), who entered the postseason having scored three runs in their previous three games, exploded in the NCAA tournament, hitting .375, scoring 32 runs and blasting 10 home runs. The Hokies (39-20) simply had no answer for the UGA bats.

“We just didn’t really put all the phases together this year at one time,” Tech head coach Pete D’Amour said the game, “so that’s what happens. [But] if 39 wins is a down year, the program is still in good hands.”    

Georgia defeated the Hokies 8-3 in the winner’s bracket on Saturday, meaning Virginia Tech had to beat the Bulldogs twice to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals. D’Amour elected to give freshman Lyndsey Grein the start in the circle.

 “We had 14 innings to play, hopefully,” D’Amour explained after the game. “Emma [Lemley] pitched against them yesterday and Lyndsey threw really well Saturday night.”

However, a Tech defense that played exceptionally well on Saturday night could not duplicate the performance on Sunday. Georgia leadoff batter Dallis Goodnight lofted a high popup that fell in shallow left field between Kelsey Brown and Rachel Castine for a double. Two batters later, Sara Mosley lifted a fly ball to left center field that fell between Brown and center fielder Bre Peck for another double.

Had either ball been caught, Grein would have been out of the inning with no runs. Instead, the Bulldogs capitalized with home runs by Sydney Chambley and Jaydyn Goodwin to plate five runs before the Hokies came to bat.

“[Georgia] can hit,” D’Amour said. “They’re good hitters. They’re patient. They put good swings on balls. They’ve been able to hit for 15 years, so it’s just hard. The first inning, I thought [there were] a couple plays here and there where we could have limited the damage, and you just can’t give good teams like that opportunities.”

“Like Coach Pete said, Georgia can hit, and I have a lot more room to grow,” Grein said. “I think everything was moving fast, and I’m going to stick to that statement. Georgia can hit the ball pretty dang well.”

Emma Lemley replaced Grein in the first inning but didn’t fare much better, surrendering seven runs (six earned) in the 4 ⅓ innings that she pitched. Molly Jacobson relieved Lemley in the sixth.

Georgia starter Shelby Walters pitched three perfect innings before singles by Brown and Cameron Fagan broke up the no-hitter in the fourth. Brown scored on a fielder’s choice by Emma Ritter and Jayme Bailey drove in another run with Tech’s third single of the inning to make the score 8-2, but Georgia responded with four more runs in the sixth to set up the run-rule victory.

Fagan hit a solo home run in the sixth to finish the scoring for the Hokies, which was the team’s 100th of the season, a new school record. 

“Hats off to Virginia Tech on such a great season,” Georgia head coach Tony Baldwin said. “I have a lot of respect for their program, their coaching staff and the way that they play the game. I feel very humble to be moving on past them.”

Sunday was the final game for 10 VT seniors: Jayme Bailey, Kelsey Bennett, Kelsey Brown, Madison Hanson, Morgan Overaitis, Grace Chavez, Emma Yates, Jenna Pearson, Meredith Slaw and Shanan Hester.

“They’re a special group,” D’Amour said. “They all bought in from day one.”

“We had a lot of success on the field,” Bailey said, “but I think looking back, I’m going to remember everything off of the field more than I’m going to remember everything on the field. We’ve had a good group of girls all five years. We played our hearts out, and we had fun doing it.”  

D’Amour was quick to add some thoughts on Bailey.

After five seasons in Blacksburg, Jayme Bailey played her final game for the Hokies on Sunday at Georgia. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

“The thing about Jayme,” D’Amour said, “is there has not been one player that I’ve ever coached that was more like me than Jayme. She’s like a mini clone of me — when I played and how I coached. We’re going to miss her, but she’ll still be around.”

The Hokies have nine players signed in the upcoming recruiting class, a group that Extra Innings Softball has ranked as the No. 12 recruiting class in the country.

“Winning 39 games and making it to a regional final is a compliment to the kids,” D’Amour said. “We lose a lot, so the newcomers need to know what’s expected here. It’s almost like going back to ground zero, my first year. There’s a certain way we do things here and the newcomers are going to have to get up to speed quickly.”

This year’s Virginia Tech pitching staff recorded 34 complete games, but D’Amour shared that Hokie fans can expect to see a little different pitching philosophy next season.

“The biggest learning for me is that you can no longer rely on one or even two pitchers to win at high levels,” D’Amour said. “We have really good pitching, but you have to have different looks now — that’s just the way it is. We’ve got a couple of freshmen coming in — you never know — and these [current] kids are going to get better next year.

“That’s just the biggest thing for me. Can we throw different looks at a team like Georgia or Florida State? That’s what makes Florida State really good — you don’t know who to prepare for — everybody is different. The days of having just one ace is pretty much over, offenses are just too good now. That’s what I’m looking forward to. … We’ve got to limit homers given up. I trust in all our kids. We’ve got good pitching; we’ve just got to get better.”

However, D’Amour reiterated the program’s NCAA tournament goals for next season — which includes hosting.

“[Making] the NCAA tournament is an expectation for us,” he said. “Personally, being a two seed is not an expectation — I want to be a one seed.”

Box Score: No. 12 Georgia 12, No. 23 Virginia Tech 3

19 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Players, coaches, fans and the community support Virginia Tech sports wholeheartedly. Hats off to the 10 seniors who stuck with the program 4 to 5 years. That speaks volumes in the transfer portal era. The program will continue to grow stronger with the 12th rank recruiting class nationally. Look forward to seeing our younger players come out with the experience and fire in their guts to give the ACC all they want and more! Having at least 6 pitchers next year will be huge. Plus bringing in a lefty is huge for our program to grow even more. I have read about the new pitchers coming in and they should be as advertised. The List girl didn’t pitch this year, so next year will be her time to break through and show why she was 19-1 her junior year, and 21-0 her senior year. Good luck to all the young ladies on our team, especially our wonderful seniors who will go down as one of the best classes to wear the maroon and orange. Work hard in the off season, play softball this summer and you will be winners again in 2023-2024. GO HOKIES!

  2. Thanks for all the great coverage Chip! Love to follow the Hokie softball program and the outstanding group of young ladies on the team. The coverage wouldn’t be the same without you!

  3. Coach D’Amour said, “If 39 wins is a down year, the program is still pretty good hands.” I would add, and against the SOS they faced, yeah, definitely in good hands…

  4. “The biggest learning for me is that you can no longer rely on one or even two pitchers to win at high levels,” D’Amour said.

    1. Softball is even more dominated by pitching than baseball. Even Keeley had bad days. When things go south, you must have a Plan B or even a Plan C.

  5. You gotta like D’Amour, one of those seasons where the margin was thin, so whatever issues eg not having a pitching coach – and I’m spitballing here – was going to be magnified and he kept working with that margin, pushing for the wins. The best coaching isn’t always during the best seasons.

    And, of course, I’ve been spoiled here, it was a good season, made a regional playoff for which you could say they came in 2 out of 4, so a 17 – 32 team which accords with their current ranking.

  6. Love to see Coach hit the portal and pick up a couple of seasoned pitchers. Look around at which teams have enjoyed success this year and most have an older more experienced pitching staff. It’s unrealistic to expect freshmen and sophomores to carry the majority of the load.

    1. It’s not from lack of trying. There were several offers extended to portal players, but every one of them took an offer to an SEC school instead.

      1. Well sure, totally agree with that, the point being that the question asked was about a search for unicorns. There are only a few … and those will go to SEC teams.

        I don’t doubt that Coach Pry, Young, Brooks… and D’Amour have looked under every stone for someone who can help the team.

        1. And I should add, I’m amazed at your writing abilities as well as sitting in on TSL podcasts, you’ve done this before, right?

          1. Actually, I have never been a writer. Always wanted to be a sportswriter growing up, but the only journalism school then was Syracuse and this old Virginia boy wasn’t going to New York. So I end up going to VT and spending my career in Human Resources before retiring several years ago. Will gave me the chance to live my dream at 63 and what a ride it has been. Thank you for your kind words.

    2. Does that actually happen in softball? I mean women do move around and yeah, sometimes for better competition whatever, but mostly for personal reasons I think. VT, of course, “lost” Carrie Eberle to OSU, but even that was for educational opportunities that VT does not provide as a grad. student as much as that hurt – imagine having Carrie and Keely pitching against UCLA. I like the odds – but much respect to following her education.

      Anyway, for VT at least, I think this is a roll-your-own business. Heck, OSU picked up one of our castoffs, Ivy Rosenberry. (or was she a portal player looking for opportunity?)

  7. Congratulations to the team for a great season – both on and off the field. These seniors+ have really had a lot of experiences over their VT careers and they have persevered through a lot of adversity. Looking forward to next year with all the potential for progress by the young players.

  8. Thanks for great coverage all season, Chip. The girls were really fun to watch.
    Has Coach said anything about securing a pitching coach soon?

    1. I have the distinct impression that he is doing his due diligence at the moment.

      1. Thanks for everything Chip. I have to believe that Pete has had a list of potential candidates for awhile.

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