Kylie Aldridge’s Two Homers Power No. 13 Virginia Tech Softball Past Liberty

Kylie Aldridge’s two home runs powered Virginia Tech past Liberty. (Virginia Tech athletics)

After surrendering its lead in the sixth inning, No. 13 Virginia Tech softball clawed back to score three quick runs and fended off Liberty in a 6-5 win.

Catcher Kylie Aldridge had already hit one home run on Wednesday: a solo shot in the second inning to give the Hokies (26-8-1) a 2-0 lead. Her second homer — a one-out knock in the bottom of the sixth — was much more consequential; it tied the game at four.

“We’ve been preaching it all week that we need to keep coming back harder and harder,” Aldridge told Tech Sideline after the game. “We easily could have just gotten down and died after we fell behind in the sixth inning, but instead we came back and put up some more runs.”

After pinch hitter Emily LeGette singled, center fielder Emma Ritter hit a two-run blast to put the game away. The Flames (20-15) scored another run in the seventh, but their effort came too late.

Aldridge hit two home runs in a game for the first time in her collegiate career.

“Clutch Kylie is what we’re gonna start calling her,” said Hokies pitcher Emma Lemley. “Especially in that situation, when we’re down one, to get your second home run of the night … Liberty is a good team. Not many people have two home runs in a night against them. That was a huge spot for her and that was awesome.”

Lyndsey Grein struggled with command in her five-inning start — she threw 37 balls across 100 pitches — but only walked one batter and allowed one run. Emma Mazzarone relieved Grein and walked the two batters she faced. Then Lemley entered, though she came straight from the dugout. She was warming up in the bullpen in the previous inning but stopped when Mazzarone replaced Grein.

“I came in a little cold,” Lemley said. “I was not warm. I worked with what I had and I had to switch some things up a little bit, but we got the win and that’s all that matters.”

Lemley inherited two runners and surrendered two hits. She settled down, though, working a sacrifice bunt, strikeout and flyout to escape the inning while granting just one run.

Watching Grein — who, like Lemley, is a rise ball pitcher — throw five innings helped Lemley make adjustments.

“Seeing what they were hitting and what they were missing definitely helped me — especially in that last inning — think, ‘OK, I need to switch it up. Let’s try to throw some things they haven’t seen in their fourth time through the lineup,’” Lemley said.

The Flames threw three arms at Tech: Katie Love, Elena Escobar and Kaylan Yoder. Escobar pitched the bulk of the game, limiting Tech to three runs in 4 ⅓ innings. The Hokies struggled against her changeup, when she mixed speeds to keep them off guard, although they eventually caught up to her.

“We just had more at-bats,” Virginia Tech head coach Pete D’Amour said. “We were caught in the middle, trying to hit both speeds, and we sat on pitches at the end.”

Wednesday marked the Hokies’ first game after No. 2 Duke swept them last weekend behind dormant offense. Their last defeat of that magnitude was nearly a year ago. Bouncing back against a team that sits in first place in the Conference USA standings and 38th in the ratings power index bodes well.

“This team, they have so much fight in them,” Lemley said. “I feel like we’ve been in a few situations this year where we’ve had to fight back in those later innings. Just about every time, we’ve pulled through. Those girls have my complete trust that in any situation — no matter how much we’re down — I always think that we’re still in the game.”

The Hokies will have a chance to continue their rebound against NC State in Raleigh for a three-game set. The first game will start on Friday at 6 p.m. ET.

Box Score: No. 13 Virginia Tech 6, Liberty 5

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  1. Big win against a good Liberty team: and much needed coming off the Duke weekend.

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