From a near grand slam to a four-run fifth inning, today was not to be the end of the Blacksburg Super Regional as #3 Virginia Tech came up short 7-2 against #14 Florida setting the stage for a decisive Game 3 with a spot in the Women's College World Series on the line tomorrow.
The game was defined by runners left on base with the Gators leaving 8 on and the Hokies leaving even more with 10 left on base. That included only getting 1 run in the fourth inning leaving the bases loaded (though Emma Ritter was a foot or 2 from a grand slam to end the inning). This came as Tech had plenty of opportunities with the leadoff hitter getting on each time in the first five innings of this game though they did get a run off an Ally Repko RBI walk in the fourth and took the lead with a Morgan Overaitis RBI double in the fifth.
For the Hokies though, they know that they will have to be better about driving runners home especially after going only 2-12 with runners in scoring position today knowing that proved quite costly given the numerous opportunities throughout the game.
"We had chances to score runs that game. We walked seven times with five hits and left 10 on. This postseason you got to cash in when you have opportunities and we just didn't today," VT head coach Pete D'Amour said.
Tech starter Emma Lemley fought throughout and had some good stuff only allowing one run through the first four innings before things went haywire in the fifth with two doubles and two hit by pitches leading to two runs before getting pulled for Keely Rochard.
Rochard was able to get some soft contact but despite that, the situation helped Florida bring in two more to blow the game open to 5-2. With the bats not able to find their rhythm in the top of the 6th, Pete D'Amour made the decision to go with Ivy Rosenberry and save Rochard for tomorrow who, after pitching all 14 innings in the first 2 super regional games last year, has only pitched 8 this weekend.
D'Amour sees that as a major boost both for tomorrow and compared to last year for the Hokies.
"Yeah, it's a big deal. I told the players after the game that we got a fresh Keely tomorrow, so here we go. I have a lot of confidence in Keely Rochard. She's won me a lot of big games and she gets the ball tomorrow," D'Amour said.
Rosenberry would allow 2 more in the sixth on the way to the 7-2 final score with the Hokies shifting their focus to tomorrow where they'll have their ace Rochard to leave the way.
For the Hokies, the focus now shifts to tomorrow with Pete D'Amour focused on getting his team to regroup as the super regional round once again proves to be a battle regardless of being the favorite or underdog.
"We won one and lost one, super regionals aren't easy. The season isn't over so we just have to regroup and do what we did in game one," D'Amour said.
That game 1 mindset is one Tech seems ready to embrace with star outfielder Emma Ritter making it clear that the Hokies plan to have the same fighting mindset that they've had throughout the postseason to date.
"I don’t think the mindset changes, you know, we still go out there and play our game. Do what we do best. I think we’ve shown these past few weeks that we’re a fighting team, we can go out there and compete with anybody so I think it’s just going out there and playing hard keeping the same mindset," Ritter said.
#3 Virginia Tech is in for a fight with #14 Florida fighting back in Game 2 to force a decisive Game with a spot in the Women's College World Series on the line tomorrow. However, the Hokies are keeping the same mindset with the boost of having ace Keely Rochard back on the mound for tomorrow's major showdown at Tech Softball Park.