Virginia Tech softball has put together a turnaround season to remember winning the ACC regular season title and earning their first NCAA Tournament bid
since 2015 as the 2 seed in the Lexington Regional. Unfortunately, the Hokies weren't able to extend their season beyond the regional finals.
The Hokies split four games going 2-2 and falling in the regional finals to Kentucky on Sunday to end their season. While the elimination may be disappointing, the Hokies' turnaround is an impressive accomplishment for a program that had two-straight losing seasons entering 2019 with the expectation being for Pete D'Amour to get VT back to the NCAAs simply by year 3 or 4, not in year 1.
Pete D'Amour released a brief comment on Twitter after today's loss while Carrie Eberle also shared her thoughts on the Hokies' season after today's game as well.
As Carrie Eberle said, there's no doubt that when you look at the Hokies' roster, there's plenty of reason to believe that Virginia Tech softball is built to only climb higher in the coming years. Here's a recap of how things went down for the Hokies in Lexington this weekend.
Virginia Tech opened their weekend with a 6-2 victory on Friday over Illinois to advance to the winner's bracket final. Keely Rochard was dominant only allowing 2 runs and 5 hits while striking out 4 in 6 innings of work. Meanwhile, Sierra Walton gave the Hokies the lead for good with a pinch hit three-run home run to give Virginia Tech a 5-2 lead with Emma Strouth driving in one more run after.
Saturday didn't start as well for the Hokies as they fell to Kentucky 8-1 with the Wildcats scoring 7 runs in the fourth and fifth innings with 4 errors proving costly. Emma Strouth had the Hokies' only run on a solo home run while Carrie Eberle went the full 6 innings for the Hokies, preventing Virginia Tech from having to use Keely Rochard before the elimination game later that day.
In their elimination game, the Hokies bounced back with a 5-1 victory over Illinois, advancing to the regional finals. Rochard was dominant with going the full 7 innings allowing only 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks. Al Velazquez put the Hokies ahead with a solo home run in the fifth inning with Caitlyn Nolan adding a two-run homer two batters later that sealed the victory.
Going into Sunday, Virginia Tech had to beat Kentucky twice but were unable to take down the Wildcats in the first game with Kentucky winning 11-1 in six innings to advance to the super-regionals. Eight runs in the final 2 innings cost the Hokies and led to the run rule ending the game after six innings. Kelsey Bennett prevented the Hokies from being shut out with a solo home run in the fourth inning for VT's only run.
Virginia Tech softball will lose some of their best hitters to graduation including Emma Strouth and Caitlyn Nolan but the pieces are there for the Hokies to climb higher next season largely due to the return of the Hokies' ace pitching duo of Carrie Eberle and Keely Rochard. Combine that with the Hokies' young star hitters in Kelsey Bennett and Jayme Bailey, and there's no doubt that Virginia Tech should not only be back in the NCAAs next season but also have a realistic chance at hosting a regional, something that seemed unimaginable this soon under Pete D'Amour when he was hired last year.
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
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