Virginia Tech Softball is preparing for their biggest test so far in 2018 as they play in the Texas Invitational this weekend, hosted by the University of Texas. After dropping their opening two games of the season, Virginia Tech has strung together six wins in a row. They'll look to use that momentum as the Hokies open on Friday with 21st ranked Ohio State followed by 20th ranked Michigan. On Saturday, they'll face the Wolverines again before playing the host team, Texas. Tech will finish the tournament Sunday with Wichita State.
Sand Dollar Classic
The Hokies are about to open their third weekend of play this season, after starting in Alabama for the Sand Dollar Classic. They opened up 2018 with a loss to 14th ranked Ole Miss, by a score of 5-1. Virginia Tech was able to load the bases in the first inning, but couldn't get any runs across. A highlight of the game was freshman Jordan Dail, who tossed seven strikeouts and allowed no runs in a relief effort.
The following that game featured an extra inning loss to Lamar. As the Hokies entered the top of the 6th inning, they trailed 6-3. Then, they found new life as Darby Trull, Caroline Schoenwald, and Olivia Lattin each had RBIs that tied the game at 6-6. In the top of the 8th, the red-hot Schoenwald had a 3-run home-run that put Virginia Tech up 9-6. It was her fifth hit of the evening.
Despite the lead, the Cardinals came back and answered with three runs of their own. They would eventually walk off in the bottom of the 9th inning on a walk-off hit.
Virginia Tech regrouped the next day and put on an offensive clinic in a 19-1, five-inning victory over Florida A&M. Carrie Eberle was the story in this game, driving in 6 runs in the game as well as a grand slam. The Hokies cruised to their first win of the season.
They then faced a team that they would become very familiar with over the next week: Penn State. This would be a team the Hokies would play three times in one week. In this game, the Nittany Lions put a run on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the 4th inning as they claimed a 1-0 lead. Then Virginia Tech answered with RBIs from Jessie Mehr, Emma Strouth, and Caitlyn Nolan. Those three runs were the difference in the 3-1 win. Their final scheduled game against 11th ranked Alabama was rained out.
ACC/Big 10 Challenge
Heading to Durham for the ACC/Big 10 challenge, Virginia Tech had high hopes for the weekend ahead. The tournament was played at the new stadium at Duke University, as they are in its first season as a program.
The Hokies went undefeated on the weekend going 4-0 after beating Penn State and Purdue twice. There were a lot of positives to take away from the weekend, especially from the pitching department. Three of the four wins were shutout victories as Jordan Dail and Carrie Eberle notched their first shutouts of the season on the first day of the tournament. Emma Strouth had two of the three RBI's combined in both of those games as well.
Saturday's contest against Penn State was a back and forth affair for a while, but Virginia Tech was able to pull away with a 9-6 win. After Penn State was able to tie the game at 5-5 following the fifth inning, the Hokies put up four runs over the next two winnings to secure the victory. First baseman, Jessie Mehr, was 2-4 with a double and three RBI's and Taylor Cark had a three run triple.
Sunday's game against Purdue featured a gem thrown by Carrie Eberle, as she tossed a complete game shutout to go along with 8-strikeouts. In both of the games against Purdue, Virginia Tech didn't allow a run. Jessie Mehr stayed hot at the plate from the day before, driving in three of the Hokies five runs. Freshman Sammi Miller hit her first career home-run.
Overall, it was a very successful weekend for Virginia Tech, moving to 6-2 on the season.
A Few Notes
- Head Coach, Scot Thomas, is not afraid to play freshman. The Class of 2021 has seen significant playing time so far this season. Jordan Dail has made a name for herself in the rotation to go along with Carrie Eberle and Keely Rochard. Eberle was also named ACC Player of the Week by College Sports Madness, so this young group of pitchers have been very strong early on.
- Jessie Mehr, Caoline Schoenwald, Olivia Lattin, and Emma Strouth have had a great start to the season at the plate. Mehr was on a tear at the ACC/Big 10 tournament and looks to stay hot in Austin this weekend. Their top of the order, with Sammi Miller in there as well, has been one of the focal points this season. When Brianna Davenport comes back from injury, this team could be putting up a lot of runs.
- This weekend will be a big test for this team. Three games against Top-25 opponents as well as a match-up with Texas can give an early indication of what kind of season this can be for Virginia Tech.
All of this weekend's games are being streamed on the Longhorn Network via the Watch ESPN app and ESPN3.
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor
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