After a strong freshman season, Emma Lemley's sophomore season as the Hokies' new ace hasn't always gone maybe as she or the Hokies would have hoped. However, the All-ACC Second Team looked like the dominant ace she has the potential to become in the opener of the Athens Regional.
Lemley gave Virginia Tech 5 shutout innings allowing only 1 hit while striking out 6 on the way to leading the Hokies to a 6-1 victory over 51-win Boston University. The Hokies will face #14 overall seed Georgia in a 1pm showdown for the first spot in the Athens Regional final.
Lemley was dominant from the start retiring the first 13 batters she faced before giving out a one-out single in the top of the 5th. Given some of her struggles as this season has progressed, this has to be a massive confidence boost for Lemley finding her best form at just the right time for the Hokies.
Meanwhile, Tech's offense was firing on all cylinders against Boston's 1-2 punch of Allison Boaz and Lizzy Avery who both had ERAs below 2.
Tech got runners in scoring position in the first 2 innings, but were unable to cash in when opportunities arose.
Things changed in the third inning though after a leadoff single plus a stolen base from Kelsey Brown set the table for Cam Fagan to bring her home on a RBI single. Two batters later, Emma Ritter kept it going bringing home two on a single that she stretched into a double thanks to an aggressive throw that was just late for getting the runner at home out.
The momentum would continue for the Hokies with Addy Greene bringing home one on an RBI single in the fourth followed by RBI singles from Rachel Castine and Kelsey Brown in the fifth to make it 6-0.
Tech's leadoff hitter Kelsey Brown may have been the biggest star of this game outside of Lemley going 3-3 with a RBI and a stolen base with a well-executed sac bunt being the only thing keeping her from a 4-4 game.
With the game mostly secure, Tech took out Lemley to save her for the showdown with Georgia bringing in Molly Jacobsen. She had a roller coaster couple innings allowing 1 run, but she had some great escapes to minimize the damage especially in the sixth.
Given some of their late season struggles outside of the Clemson series, this has to be a very encouraging win for the Hokies who looked more like the top 10-15 team they were at the start of the season. Now they get an interesting matchup with Georgia who are a power-hitting team like Virginia Tech so we could easily see a home run-dominated game. The Hokies will certainly be helped by the fact that Lemley didn't have to do a lot in her dominant performance against Boston University.
Virginia Tech did exactly what they needed to in their opener with the focus now on trying to take down the Bulldogs and get themselves the valuable first spot in the Regional Final needing only to win 1 of 2 games if they get the job done Saturday afternoon.