Monday Thoughts: A Softball Regional for the Ages

Jayme Bailey Virginia Tech Softball
Jayme Bailey gets ready to place the Virginia Tech sign on the NCAA Regional banner after Virginia Tech’s championship-clinching win. (Jon Fleming)

It was a wild and woolly weekend in Blacksburg, and when it was over, Virginia Tech softball made some memorable history.

I guess it wasn’t the whole weekend that was wild and woolly, just the 25 hours or so from the start of Saturday’s game against Kentucky (5:10 PM) to the end of Sunday’s second game against the Wildcats (6:45 PM). In those 25.5 hours, the Hokies played the Wildcats three times (and Miami-OH once), and it was an intense rollercoaster of emotion. It ended in a regional title and more playoff life for a team that deserves it.

We’ll get to watch Virginia Tech play some more softball, but for a grim stretch of time there, it didn’t feel like they would make it. But they did, and they took their fans along for a thrill ride along the way.

First things first: for a school hosting a softball regional for the first time in a venue that isn’t, shall we say, “quite there yet,” Virginia Tech did a bang-up job. I attended four games – including all of the games against Kentucky — and though I can’t speak for everyone, I didn’t have one bad moment or one bad encounter with the staff and setup for the event. Remember, Virginia Tech doesn’t charge for softball games, so the concept of selling softball tickets, controlling access to a wide-open venue, scanning tickets, and managing the crowd, while not new to Virginia Tech Athletics, was new to Tech Softball Park (TSP). It went off without a hitch.

I spent the weekend in the temporary outfield bleachers getting baked by near-record temperatures, and I should note that out in that area of TSP, everything was temporary, not just the bleachers. The vendors, “bathrooms” (porta-potties), food trucks, ticket lines, you name it. Despite that, everything ran smoothly, and I didn’t experience an overly long wait or encounter anyone who wasn’t nice the whole weekend.

It was all smiles for Keely Rochard as she breezed through St. Francis