The now #8 Virginia Tech Softball squad got off to a fiery start after a history-making 2022 season with five-straight wins in three days down in Wilmington, NC..
It started on Thursday when the Hokies took on ECU and UNCW. Game one was dominated by standout sophomore Bre Peck as the Pennsylvania native hit a three-run home run in the first inning alone which set the tone for the rest of the game. Following Peck’s homer, freshman SS Teagan Thrunk hit a RBI single in her debut to extend the lead. After a dry second inning for both sides, a Kelsey Bennett sac fly earned her first RBI of the new season with Peck coming home to extend the Hokies lead to 5-0.
Kelsey Brown and Thrunk continued to play big roles as they finished a combined 4-5 with two RBIs each. Sophomore ace pitcher Emma Lemley got the start on the mound for the Hokies pitched all five innings striking out seven Pirates while allowing just four hits as she kept a shutout in the inaugural game of the season. Tech finished that game with a resounding 8-0 run rule victory over the Pirates.
Game two versus UNCW took place just two hours later. This time, it was Emma Ritter who took control as she hit an inside the park home run on her opening at-bat. Ritter would finish with another RBI in the fifth, batting 2-4 overall on the night.
Junior infielder Cameron Fagan finished with two RBIs in the first inning to extend the Orange and Maroon lead to 3-0. Rachel Castine scored an unearned run in the fourth to create a separation of four for the Hokies. Ritter's second RBI came in the following inning off a double which allowed Kelsey Brown to snag her first run of the new campaign.
The pitching was on fire for the Hokies as freshman Lyndsey Grein made her collegiate debut pitching all seven innings and recorded an impressive nine strikeouts. Grein did give up a single run in the bottom of the seventh although the Hokies still handed UNCW their first loss of the year in a 5-1 win, to improve to 2-0.
Games three and four followed Friday in the reverse order of Thursday's matchups. UNCW had the Hokies number up until the top of the sixth, when Virginia Tech held just a 2-0 lead thanks to a homer from Peck in the fourth and a Fagan double which allowed Teagan Thrunk to come home from second base in the fifth.
All of the sudden a three-run homer by senior Jayme Bailey opened the floodgates and extended the lead to five for the Hokies. Following Bailey, a Fagan single allowed Thrunk to seal a 6-0 win. Four Hokies finished the game with multiple hits led by Bailey who finished the first game batting 2-3 and finished with three RBIs. Lemley took control of the mound as she finished with nine strikeouts and just one hit allowed. The Hokies moved to a 2-0 series lead over UNCW and to 3-0 on the season.
Later that night, the Hokies faced what would prove to be their most stout competition of the weekend, as they faced ECU for the second time in just 24 hours. This was a much closer affair than the previous night's matchup. The Pirates jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to an error at the bottom of the first. It took little time for the Hokies to respond as due to an error from the Pirates, they were able to capitalize and tie the game at two all at the top of the second.
The next couple innings were fruitless for both sides up until the top of the fifth where an Emma Ritter triple brought Thrunk home to give the Hokies a one-run lead. Just one out later stepped up Addy Greene who sacrificed hit for Ritter to advance home from third and give the Hokies a two-run lead that they would hold onto the rest of the way.
Pitching was Lyndsey Grein who collected her second start and victory, Grein allowed just one hit with two strikeouts. The star player was junior Emma Ritter who batted just 1-4 but finished with an RBI triple and a run to keep the Hokies at an undefeated 4-0 record heading into their last matchup of the weekend.
Following a closer then anticipated Friday, Virginia Tech was out for blood against Purdue Fort Wayne on Saturday. Emma Ritter continued her electric weekend as she got on early for Jayme Bailey who brought her home at the top of the first. This was the only run scored from the Hokies until the third inning.
In the third, the floodgates opened and they never were shut. Ritter opened the third with a solo home run followed by a Morgan Overaitis groundout brining a home run before Addy Greene hit a three-run home run to make it 6-0. The fourth followed much the same as a Fagan double batted in Ritter, and a Bailey single batted in Fagan.
For icing on the cake, Addy Greene homered to right field to extend the Tech lead to nine in what would ultimately result in the Hokies second run rule victory of the weekend.
Stellar pitching from Bre Peck and Molly Jacobson meant that only five hits were allowed through the game. Addy Greene finished as one of many star players in the game as her two home runs and four RBIs were huge for the Hokies and helped them complete a perfect 5-0 weekend.
The competition steps up this weekend for the Hokies as they head to Clearwater, Florida for the TaxAct Invitational that will include matchups against fellow top 10 teams UCLA and Oklahoma State, and more.