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COA News 2024

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Softball: Hoos take double dip, series at No. 3 Duke gains spot in ACC Tournament: Jerry Ratcliffe

Courtesy of UVA Media Relations

Photo: UVA Athletics

Virginia scored a doubleheader at No. 3 Duke on Saturday with a pair of one-run wins to claim the weekend series over the Blue Devils and secure a spot in the ACC Softball Championships.

It marked an exciting 24 hours for the Hoos (30-15, 13-8 ACC), who played three full games and 25.1 innings of softball in that span. Virginia and Duke (39-6, 17-4) played a 12-inning game Friday night starting at 6 p.m. before closing the series with Saturday’s doubleheader that ended at 5:35 p.m.

GAME 1: VIRGINIA 4, DUKE 3
Duke opened the scoring in the third inning when Kelly Torres tripled to right with one out and came home on a sacrifice fly to short that was caught in shallow left field.

Virginia took the lead in the fourth with a grand slam to left from Jade Hylton. The Cavaliers loaded the bases with a leadoff single up the middle by Kelly Ayer and consecutive bunt singles by Sarah Coon and Kelsey Hackett. Virginia grounded into a pair of fielder’s choice outs before Hylton took the 2-2 pitch deep to put the Hoos on top.

Duke responded in the bottom of the fifth, taking advantage of a pair of errors to put two in scoring position. A fielding error on a bunt put the first runner on base and a throwing error after a diving stop on a ground ball to second base allowed both runners to advance to an extra base. The first run came home on a sacrifice fly to left by Kelly Torres before a passed ball moved the trail runner to third base. She then came home on a sacrifice fly to left as Duke cut the lead to 4-3.

In the seventh inning, the Blue Devils got a runner with a leadoff single and the Hoos brought in Eden Bigham from the bullpen. A groundout to short brought the tying run to second base, then a hit batter and a single up the middle loaded the bases for the Blue Devils with one out. Bigham then got a ground ball to third, where Sarah Coon made the force out and threw home for the tag as the double play clinched the win.

Courtney Layne (3-1) picked up the win, allowing three runs – one earned – on four hits and a walk in 4.0 innings of work. Bigham picked up her third save of the season as she recorded the final three outs. Madison Harris kept things in check with 2.0 innings of work bridging from Layne to Bigham.

Sophie Walker (3-1) took the loss, allowing three runs on four hits with two walks in 3.0 innings of work. She left the game with the bases loaded and no outs in the fourth inning.

GAME 2: VIRGINIA 3, DUKE 2
Virginia got things started with a two-run home run by Jade Hylton in the third inning. Kelsey Hackett scored on the play after opening the inning with a single to center.

The Hoos extended the lead in the fourth with a two-out single up the middle from Hackett, who drove in Kailyn Jones from second. Jones came in at second for Macee Eaton, who was hit by a pitch to open the inning and got into scoring position on a single by Kelly Ayer.

Duke got on the board in the sixth with an RBI triple to center by Aminah Vega, which scored Kelly Torres from second. Torres reached base on a single through the left side and took second base on a grounder to second base. Vega then came home with a two-out single up the middle from Gisele Tapia to cut the lead to 3-2 heading into the seventh.

Virginia’s pitching staff kept things under control in the final frame to secure the doubleheader sweep and series victory over the Blue Devils.

Mikayla Houge (2-3) picked up the win, working 5.2 innings and allowing two runs on six hits with one strikeout. Madi Harris picked up the save, her second of the season, and set the program record for career saves.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

  • Madi Harris set the program record for saves with her 10th career save to close out game two of the day.
  • The Hylton grand slam in the first game was her first grand slam of the season and she now has 11 home runs on the year after hitting a home run in every game.
  • Eden Bigham picked up her third save of the season as she made the final three outs of game one.
  • The win over No. 3 Duke is the second-highest win in program history. Virginia’s highest-ranked wins were victories over No. 2 FSU (4/17/2004), No. 2 Arizona (3/21/2020) and No. 2 Virginia Tech (4/15/2022).
  • It is the first series win over Duke in program history, as the Hoos are now 3-10 against Duke all-time.
  • Virginia has now gone to the rubber match in all seven ACC series and has won six of those series-deciding games.
  • It marks the first time in program history that Virginia has won six ACC series in one season.

FROM HEAD COACH JOANNA HARDIN

“That was rough, tough and competitive. We played exceptional defense. Our pitching staff was phenomenal. Jade Hylton scored twice with the big catch and Kelsey Hackett delivering the RBI single and Kailyn Jones scoring in the fourth was huge. It was a team effort from the entire team today. I’m proud that they played three games in less than 24 hours against an extremely competitive team and not once did they fail or backslide. “I am overwhelmed with pride and gratitude to be able to coach these players and be a part of their team and what they do.”

NEXT ONE

Virginia continues road play with a non-conference matchup at No. 15 Virginia Tech on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The match counts as half a point in the Smithfield Commonwealth Clash.