No. 23 Virginia Tech Softball Defeats Illinois To Solidify Undefeated Weekend

Virginia Tech had a great start to its 2024 campaign in Alabama. (Virginia Tech athletics)

No. 23 Virginia Tech finished its undefeated opening weekend with a tight 6-5 win against Illinois.

“We’re getting situated as a team,” Tech shortstop Rachel Castine told Tech Sideline after the game. “I think this weekend was really good for us — we’re winning and having fun.”

Castine led the Hokies (4-0-1) with two hits, two runs and three RBI against the Fighting Illini (0-3). Her three-run homer in the third inning vaulted Tech from a 4-2 deficit to a 5-4 lead. Castine’s four home runs this weekend eclipsed her combined home run total in the previous two seasons (3).

“I’m seeing the ball really well,” Castine said. “I’m confident and it feels nice that my coaches and teammates trust me out there.”

The Hokies’ offense shined throughout their first five games as they hit .423 with 50 runs and 10 homers. That does not count their seventh inning against No. 20 Auburn on Saturday — when Bre Peck hit a grand slam — which was wiped from the record book since the frame was not completed.

“There were a lot of things to like offensively,” Virginia Tech head coach Pete D’Amour said. “Our power production hasn’t seemed to miss a beat from last year.” 

Of the seven players who saw at-bats in all five of Tech’s games this weekend, five of them have an average over .500. The other two hit .412 and .385.

“The team chemistry really helped,” Peck said. “I think that really pushes us to do better on the field and push each other.”

Illini pitcher Lauren Wiles allowed the Hokies’ first five runs in the first 2 ⅔ innings, including home runs to Castine and right fielder Michelle Chatfield. Briana Bower took the circle for the final 3 ⅓ innings, allowing five hits and one run.

Emma Lemley started for Tech, allowing three earned runs and two hits while striking out four batters across the first three innings. Lemley walked five batters on Sunday, following her seven walks Saturday against No. 20 Auburn — her second-highest single-game total of her career.

Cassie Grizzard pitched after Lemley, recording all but the final two outs. Grizzard allowed one run and two hits, striking out four of the 11 batters she faced.

Lyndsey Grein took the circle in the top of the seventh when Illinois center fielder Serena Starks singled, putting the tying run on base. Grein forced two groundouts, solidifying a save and Tech’s undefeated opening weekend.

Tech came out strong in the first three days of the season against quality opponents. As the Hokies prepare for next week — against BYU, Arizona State, Cal, Grand Canyon and Illinois State in Phoenix and Tempe — they are in as good of a position as they could have hoped for.

“We’ll get back to work on Tuesday and get ready for another test next weekend,” D’Amour said.

Virginia Tech will play next on Friday, Feb. 16 against BYU at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Box Score: No. 23 Virginia Tech 6, Illinois 5 

4 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Great weekend by the lady Hokies. Castine had an incredible hitting weekend. Pitching was good and defense was great. Looking forward to more of the same next weekend. Hopefully there will be some tv this time though radio was fun.

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