Tempe, AZ – After a 5-2 win over BYU Thursday night, the No. 21/22 Virginia Tech softball team added another Friday, taking down regional hosts No. 12/8 Arizona State to advance to Saturday’s regional final. It was a full team effort Friday as the Hokies (35-13) got a complete game performance from junior pitcher Keely Rochard (27-8) and produced 14 hits in the batter’s box. Rochard allowed just two runs to the Sun Devils (33-15) who entered the game as the 12th -best scoring team in the country at 6.68 runs per game. Tech was led at the plate by sophomores Kelsey Bennett and Alexa Milius, who had four hits and three runs batted in, respectively. For Bennett, Friday marked the first time in her career she had four hits in one game and she’s just the second Hokie to accomplish the feat this season (Cameron Fagan). Friday’s win means the Hokies are off for the rest of the day as they await who will meet them in Saturday’s regional final. Tech needs to win just one game Saturday to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals and can afford one loss in the double-elimination format.
QUOTING HEAD COACH PETE D’AMOUR:
On the offense: ”We were seeing the ball really well. We didn’t swing at too many bad pitches, I can’t remember a swing and miss, maybe one all day. When we swung the bat, we made contact, we made good contact. I’ve said it all year, this is a potent offense. You can go up and down [the lineup], it feels like we’re peaking right now. It was good to see.”
On having a three-run lead after the top of the first ”It was nice. It was really relaxing knowing I could just go right after batters knowing we already had the lead.”
On how she felt in the circle late in the game ”It was fun. It was nice to just be able to throw my game and not have to worry about anything, because even if I gave up a grand slam, we would still be winning.”
The Hokies wasted no time putting runs on the board at Farrington Stadium, as their third batter of the game, Milius, singled up the middle scoring Kelsey Brown, who had led off the game with a single. Three batters later, freshman Addy Greene roped a double down the right-field line, plating Jayme Bailey and Bennett to give Tech a 3-0 lead in the first. In the top-half of the second inning, Brown hit a double to deep center field that Darby Trull was able to score from first base on. The Sun Devils answered with a run of their own in the bottom half of the second, but the Hokies held a 4-1 lead after two. The teams would play a scoreless third inning before Milius got her second and third RBI of the game with a two-run blast over the right-center wall in the top of the fourth to lead 6-1. After ASU got another run in the bottom of the fifth, Tech once again answered with a deep ball, this time Fagan went yard for a solo home run in the top of the sixth. The Hokies scored their eighth run of the ballgame in the top of the seventh off a pinch-hit single from Grace Chavez that scored pinch runner Maddy Federico. Rochard was dealing all game, holding the Sun Devils to just one hit combined in the third, fourth and fifth innings. The right-hander closed out the game with a 1-2-3 inning, totaling nine strikeouts in the game.
- The Hokies had double-digit hits for the second straight game, recording 14 hits Friday after a 12-hit performance Thursday night.
- Brown, Bennett and Milius all had multiple hits Friday, Bennett leading the way with her four.
- Through two games in Tempe, the Hokies are sporting a .413 team batting average, .115 better than their season clip of .298. Bennett leads the team with an outrageous .750 average at regionals.
The Hokies and their yet-to-be-determined, regional-final opponent will square off Saturday at 6 p.m. ET. If necessary, Game 2 between the teams is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET.