No. 12 Virginia Tech Softball Crushes Pitt In 18-0 Run-Rule Win

Emma Ritter and Virginia Tech cruised past Pitt on Friday afternoon in Blacksburg. (Virginia Tech athletics)

No. 12 Virginia Tech softball scored more runs than it committed outs on Friday, knocking seven home runs on the way to an 18-0 run-rule win over Pitt.

The Hokies’ (19-4-1, 7-0 ACC) rout over the Panthers (8-16, 0-4 ACC) was their largest margin of victory against an ACC team in program history.

“We obviously played great; the score shows that,” Virginia Tech center fielder Emma Ritter told Tech Sideline after the game. “It was a huge team effort tonight. The pitchers did great and the hitters did really well.”

Three home runs in the first inning propelled Tech to its insurmountable lead: Ritter’s leadoff shot, Cori McMillan’s grand slam and Teagan Thrunk’s first homer of the season. By the end of the first inning, the Hokies led 7-0.

“We were on from the very first pitch of the game,” Tech starting pitcher Emma Lemley said. “Emma Ritter taking the first pitch yard. It was a huge team effort, winning 18 to nothing. Defense, offense, pitching — everything was there tonight for us.”

Everything was there for the Hokies, indeed. 

Offensively, every starter had a hit. Each inning consisted of at least eight at bats for Tech. In the circle, Lemley threw four shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out eight batters. Her first seven recorded outs were strikeouts, allowing her to work around leadoff hits in the first two innings.

Emma Lemley was very good in the circle for Virginia Tech against the Panthers on Friday. (Virginia Tech athletics)

After a 10-minute rain delay in the fourth, Molly Jacobson pitched the final three outs. Jacobson — in her first appearance of the season — walked a batter but otherwise retired the side unscathed.

“Molly is a great teammate,” Ritter said. “Seeing her have the opportunity to finally get out there and throw, and seeing her kick butt was awesome.”

McMillan hit two homers, helping her tie the program record of four runs in a game. Her first blast was a grand slam into a tree in straightaway center field and gave Tech a 5-0 lead. Her second was in the fourth inning and padded the Hokies’ already double-digit cushion.

Ritter led the team with three hits — and added a walk — and was a triple short of the cycle.

“[Ritter] seems to be locked in right now,” Virginia Tech head coach Pete D’Amour said. “The thing with her is when she gets good pitches to hit, she’s pretty dangerous.”

An 18-run win is a team effort; it only happens when all aspects of the game are effective. But Lemley said that when one aspect thrives, whether offense, defense or pitching, it helps everyone else succeed.

“It definitely helps me relax,” Lemley said. “It definitely brings me peace of mind, knowing that if I get in a situation where I give up a few runs, I always trust that they’ll be there right behind me to score.”

Virginia Tech bounced back from a tough loss at Charlotte with an explosive victory against Pitt on Friday. (Virginia Tech athletics)

The Hokies’ win provided a boost after a midweek loss at Charlotte, when they hit 2-for-10 with runners on base and 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position. On Friday, they went 9-for-18 and 5-for-10, respectively, in those same situations.

“One game doesn’t define a whole season,” Ritter said. “There’s ups and downs, and that’s just how it goes. Same as there are individual ups and downs, there are team ups and downs. Being able to respond to that is what really shows the strength of your team.”

Charlotte is a good team, one that qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2023 and sits 15th in the NCAA RPI. Regardless, the loss was a wakeup call.

“We took practice yesterday very seriously,” Lemley said. “We had intention on every single rep just to get better. The goal was to bounce back from the loss on Wednesday, and I think we did that.”

Tech is 7-0 in conference play and has a shot to improve that record on Saturday when it faces the Panthers for Game 2 of the series at 2 p.m. ET.

“We just need to keep the ball rolling,” Lemley said. “We have to remind ourselves to not let up on them at all. Not every game is going to be 18-0, but I think we need to keep our foot on the gas and keep at it and keeping it pitch-by-pitch and doing what we do.”

Box Score: No. 12 Virginia Tech 18, Pitt 0 (5 innings)

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