Virginia Tech Softball Drops Two Games at LA Regional to End Season

Virginia Tech softball
Virginia Tech led UCLA going into the bottom of the seventh, but things fell apart after that. (Virginia Tech Athletics)

Holding a one-run lead in the winners’ bracket entering the bottom of the seventh, Virginia Tech softball proceeded to drop two games — to No. 6 UCLA and Grand Canyon — to end its season.

The Hokies (40-14-1) lost in the regional round for the second consecutive season.

“It’s obviously not the end that we wanted,” said Virginia Tech head coach Pete D’Amour. “Our kids fought like they did all year. Strange year for us. It just felt like we didn’t put all three aspects together at one time.”

Winner’s bracket: UCLA 7, Virginia Tech 6

vt ucla scoring line

Box score

The first game swung back and forth, then back and forth again.

“This sport has a sick sense of humor,” said UCLA head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez. “One minute you’re on top, then drama happens, and it flips.”

Tech right fielder Cori McMillan launched a first inning three-run homer. The blast was her 21st of the season, extending her single-season program record.

In the second inning, left fielder Addy Greene singled in catcher Kylie Aldridge, building a 4-0 lead. But then the game began to unravel for Virginia Tech.

The Bruins (39-10) punched back to tack on five runs in the third and fourth. Three RBI singles — from right fielder Megan Grant, third baseman Thessa Malau’ulu and pinch hitter Ramsey Suarez — and shortstop Maya Brady’s sacrifice fly created a 5-4 advantage for UCLA.

Greene homered in the fifth and designated player Teagan Thrunk singled in the top of the seventh, putting Tech up 6-5, but the Hokies came apart in the bottom of the frame.

Hokies pitcher Lyndsey Grein walked Grant to lead off the bottom of the seventh. One batter later, UCLA first baseman Jordan Woolery tripled to bring around Taylor Stephens, who pinch ran in Grant’s place. Immediately after that, designated player Savannah Pola singled through the left side to walk the game off.

Missed opportunities plagued the Hokies and potentially kept them from staying in the winners’ bracket. One batter before Greene’s homer, center fielder Emma Ritter was thrown out at second after she hit a line drive off the wall. If she stayed at first and Greene still homered, Tech would have had more of a cushion.

Emma Lemley started and threw the first three-plus frames and 61 pitches. She allowed seven hits and five runs — four earned — and left after walking two runners to lead off the fourth. Lemley threw exactly 150 pitches in just over a day, spanning back to Friday’s win over San Diego State.

Lyndsey Grein relieved Lemley to provide a fresher arm and took Tech the rest of the way. She gave up five hits and two runs, although those two runs were the decisive ones in the seventh.

UCLA pitcher Taylor Tinsley made her first start since April 26 and saw the Hokies through the lineup once. She allowed four runs, three of which were earned, and three hits, while collecting three strikeouts.

Kaitlyn Terry took the Bruins through the rest of the game, across 5 ⅔ frames, giving up seven hits and two runs.

Although the Hokies collected just one extra base hit on Friday, they were more effective in the first game on Saturday. They hit 9-for-17 with runners on base, including 5-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

If the Hokies held onto the lead against UCLA, they would have had to win just one more game to escape the regional. Instead, they were in a position where they had to win three games.

“After the first game, I said we got three games to play now instead of one,” D’Amour said. “We’re a good team. We looked UCLA right in the face and played them hard.”

Virginia Tech softball
Virginia Tech’s game against Grand Canyon started just after midnight Eastern Time. (Virginia Tech Athletics)

Elimination Game: Grand Canyon 4, Virginia Tech 1

VT-GCU scoring line

Box score

Something about playing Grand Canyon proved to be a challenge for the Hokies.

Four-and-a-half hours after the first game ended, shortly after midnight Eastern Time, the Hokies started playing against the Antelopes (50-12). And just over two hours later, their season ended.

Grand Canyon starter Meghan Golden shut Tech down for the second time this season, stranding nine runners on base and preventing the Hokies from getting runs across. Virginia Tech ended innings with runners on first and second, first and third and the bases loaded, but still failed to record more than one run.

Greene hit a sacrifice fly to bring in shortstop Annika Rohs in the fifth, but that was all Tech could amass on the scoreboard.

The Antelopes notched two early runs off of Hokies starter Emma Mazzarone in the first with a two-out double from left fielder Kayla Rodgers. In the fourth, shortstop Katelyn Dunckel hit a solo home run. Grand Canyon’s only other run came in the sixth, when second baseman Savannah Groshong-Kir scored on a wild pitch.

Aside from a few mistakes, Mazzarone — a true freshman — held her own on the biggest stage. She threw 107 pitches while striking out nine.

“I think pitching coach Josh (Johnson) prepared me for it all week, so I was prepared for the adrenaline,” Mazzarone said. “‘It’s just another game’ is what I kept telling myself.”

Saturday’s loss marked the end of the road for five seniors: Ritter, Greene, Cameron Fagan, Molly Jacobson and Maija Louko.

“The seniors are prepared for the rest of their lives by being in our program,” D’Amour said. “They’re going to be successful in whatever they do.”

12 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Thank you Lady Hokies Softball for an awesome season. My heart goes out to the seniors! It was not fair at all to be the only team in the country who had to travel so far to play in a regional. It makes no sense, because what you guys did is what happens to teams traveling to the super regionals. It is obvious that the committee wanted you guys eliminated so that their mightly Oklahoma, Florida State, Oklahoma State, among the other powerhouses wouldn’t have to play you in the super regionals. Shame on the NCAA! The future is still bright ladies! Looking forward to cheering you on next season! Go Hokies! Love you guys!

  2. Winning 40 games is still a great year. Cards were stacked against them traveling across the country.

  3. Losing a lot with the graduation of our fantastic seniors but the great class of freshmen this year are to joined with a very strong recruiting class next fall so good times are ahead. Thanks to everyone for all the excitement and success this year!!!

  4. 40 wins is very difficult to achieve. We’re proud of these players that represent VT so well.

  5. Probably one of the best softball teams not advancing out of the regionals!

  6. Winning 40 games is a successful season. Great effort in the tourney…just a bit short. Looking forward to next season.

  7. Didn’t see the Grand Canyon game, but the ladies put on a gallant effort vs UCLA. Seemed to me that base running errors (whether by coaches or players) did us in. And Pete left Lemley in too long after her epic game Friday. Congratulations on a good season to a talented team that’s fun to watch.

  8. Tough way to go out for these great seniors. Love this team. Good luck ladies in whatever’s next. Thanks for the awesome ball.

    1. Every team but one’s season is going to end the same way. Why make a dumb comment like this?

  9. Great job Pete and Staff – Great job Team – TY Seniors! Go be great in Life now!
    Next year looks bright again!

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