Hokies softball feel no pressure heading into postseason play

The 40-6 Hokies open up ACC tournament play on Thursday

BLACKSBURG, Va. – If it looks like Virginia Tech softball handles pressure well, you’re probably right. The poise on the mound paired with calmness at bat, pressure is something the Hokies are good at combatting.

“We don’t feel pressure at all as a team, it’s kind of more of an expectation, we go out there and play how we know how to play,” junior infielder Meredith Slaw said.

The number two team in the nation has been playing with a high level of consistency against ranked opponents like Florida State and Tennessee, but Kelsey Bennett says they could be even better.

“So far we’ve not been all on the same cylinder, and that’s what’s so exciting about postseason is that we all haven’t been on the same page,” she said. “Whether it’s one girl in the lineup not doing well or four girls in the lineup not doing well, to all of us succeeding, I think that’s what we’re really excited about moving forward.”

On Thursday, the Hokies will begin their postseason run with a trip to the ACC tournament, and are using their resiliency and grit to propel them forward.

“We’ve been punched in the nose a couple times this spring and responded every time, so that’s mentality and fabric of our team,” head coach Pete D’Amour said.

“The postseason is why you play, and we’re ready to get together as a team and hopefully kick some butt,” Slaw added.

Virginia Tech will play the winner of Louisville and Syracuse at 11am Thursday.

On Wednesday, the ACC announced its end-of-season awards. For the second consecutive season Keely Rochard has been named the ACC Pitcher of the Year. Rochard compiled a 22-2 record in the circle with a 1.76 earned run average (ERA). She struck out 283 batters in just 171 innings pitched to pace the conference and rank fifth nationally in strikeouts. Rochard is a top-10 finalist for the 2022 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year.

Forest native and former Jefferson Forest standout Emma Lemley was selected as the Freshman of the Year. She owns a 15-4 record to go along with a 1.64 ERA. Lemley has allowed the fewest hits per seven innings of any pitcher in the league (3.97) and that mark ranks 15th nationally. Lemley has struck out 187 batters in 111 innings pitched and her 11.8 strikeouts per seven innings mark is the best in the conference.

The ACC Coach of the Year is Virginia Tech’s Pete D’Amour. D’Amour guided Virginia Tech (40-6, 21-2 ACC) to the No. 1 seed in the 2022 ACC Softball Championship and his second regular-season title in his four seasons in Blacksburg. Picked third in the ACC Preseason Coaches Poll, the Hokies are currently ranked second nationally in the D1Softball, NFCA and USA Softball Polls - the highest ranking in program history.

Other accolades included All-ACC First Team selections:

OF - Emma Ritter, Virginia Tech, So., OF

P - Keely Rochard, Virginia Tech, Sr., P

At-Large - Meredith Slaw, Virginia Tech, Jr., DP

At-Large - Emma Lemley, Virginia Tech, Fr., P

All-ACC Second Team selections:

Cameron Fagan, Virginia Tech, So., 2B\

Mackenzie Lawter, Virginia Tech, Sr., C

Morgan Overaitis, Virginia Tech, Jr., OF

Bre Peck, Virginia Tech, Fr., 3B

All-ACC Third Team selections:

Kelsey Bennett, Virginia Tech, Jr., SS

Kelsey Brown, Virginia Tech, Jr., OF

Darby Trull, Virginia Tech, Sr., OF

All-Freshman Team:

Sarah Coon, Virginia, 3B

Emma Lemley, Virginia Tech, P

Bre Peck, Virginia Tech, 3B

For a complete list, click here.

About the Author:

Brooke Leonard is the newest addition to the 10 Sports team, joining in June 2019.