LOUISVILLE, Ky. – After winning the first game of the doubleheader Saturday 2-0, the No. 19/16 Virginia Tech softball team dropped a 3-2 contest to Louisville at Ulmer Stadium for the split.
Tech (18-5, 12-5 ACC) was in control for most of the day, but Louisville’s Makayla Hurst (.271 BA, 7 RBIs) hit two home runs in the second game to propel the Cardinals (10-13, 4-8) to their first victory in the weekend series, which stands at 2-1, and snap a six-game losing streak.
Hokie pitcher Keely Rochard (14-2, 0.88 ERA) was electric in the first game, throwing a two-hitter and allowing no runs for her eighth shutout of the season. Then Mackenzie Osborne (1-0, 2.49 ERA) drew her first-ever ACC start and had a solid outing, pitching 5.0 innings and scattering four hits, striking out three and allowing just one run.
At the plate, outfielder Kelsey Brown (.418 BA, 15 SBs) led the charge with three hits, with all of those coming in Game 1, and scored a run in the second game. Shortstop Addy Greene (.250 BA, 7 RBIs) had a double in each game, while third baseman Kelsey Bennett (.311 BA, 17 RBIs) tallied a two-bagger in Game 2.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Louisville’s closest chance to scoring came in the bottom of the second. The Cards loaded the bases with one out, but Rochard would keep her cool and get back-to-back strikeouts to stay unscathed.
Scoreless through five innings, the game saw its first and only half-inning of scoring come in the top of the sixth. It started with Greene reaching on a throwing error by Louisville’s third baseman. She would move to third after a drag bunt that turned into a single by Brown, who would later steal second base.
With runners on second and third with no outs, second baseman Morgan Overaitis hit a deep fly ball to center and earned the sacrifice fly to score Greene for the game’s first run. Then Brown would score on a textbook sac bunt by three-hitter Grace Chavez to make 2-0.
Rochard would retire the side the next two frames, preserving the win.
Tech struck first in the top of the third, with Brown reaching on an error by the shortstop, Greene doubling to left and then Bailey hitting a sac fly to center to score Brown. Then Greene, a speedster herself, advanced to third on a passed ball and would score on the next pitch due to a wild pitch to give the Hokies a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Hurst hit a solo home run to right center for UofL’s first run of the series.
After five solid innings of work from Osborne, Rochard returned to the circle, entering in for the first time in the second game of the doubleheader and allowed a go-head, two-run home run to Hurst to make it 3-2.
Outfielder Emma Ritter singled up the middle to start things off in the top of the seventh and would move over to second and third, but with two outs, couldn’t cross home plate as Tech fell 3-2.
– With her 15 strikeouts on the day (12 Ks Game 1, 3 Ks Game 2), Rochard passed Jasmin Harrell (2010-13) for the fifth-most in school history. Harrell racked up 588 and Rochard currently has 594.
– Brown tied her season high of three hits in a game, marking the third time she’s done so this season. She also swiped two bases in the first game, pushing her team-high total to 15.
– Greene, who started at shortstop for the third and fourth time this season, racked up her fifth and sixth doubles, while Bennett posted her fourth of the year.
– In Tech coach Pete D’Amour‘s career, which includes his two-year stint at Kennesaw State, he was 121-5 when leading after five innings. So, with the late rally by the Cards, he moves to 121-6, putting it in perspective how rare today was and his prowess of holding onto leads. Before Game 2, the Hokies were 11-0 this season when leading after fiving innings.
– Tech will play in the final contest of the four-game series on Sunday at Ulmer Stadium against Louisville at 1 p.m. ET on ACC Network Extra.