BLACKSBURG, Va. – Survive and advance is the name of the game even if it requires winning two in one day. The Virginia Tech softball team just accomplished that feat to advance to the the Super Regionals of the NCAA Tournament.
“It was kind of a known thing that everyone was tired, in the morning it was an unspoken rule, everyone is tired,” junior Jayme Bailey said. “This is a hard game, seven innings of mental and physical strain, you just have to use that mental side of the game and go hey you have to step up now, I mean its now or never, I think we had that in the back of our minds so we knew what we needed to do.”
The day started with Virginia Tech defeating Kentucky 9-2 behind a complete game from ACC Freshman Pitcher of the Year Emma Lemley. She allowed 8 hits but it only yielded two runs. She had four strikeouts in that outing as well. The Hokies plate production, perhaps the best it has been thus far in the tournament-- 11 hits and a big seventh inning 3-run home run by Cameron Fagan that pushed the lead to 9-2.
In the decisive elimination game to follow, Lemley was called upon again to start in the circle. She went 3.2 innings and tallied four strikeouts. But this time the Wildcats were able to scratch home a few more runs. They led 2-0 after two solo home runs in the opening inning.
The Hokies responded in the bottom half as Jayme Bailey put one over the wall in centerfield to tie the game up. Virginia Tech has been able to find the “big” hit in its past few outings and there was no exception Sunday evening. Catcher Mackenzie Lawter lifted a 3-run home run to left field in the 5th inning to give the Hokies a 5-3 lead.
“They’re just tough, experienced and tough, nothing really phases them,” head coach Pete D’amour said. If we play in this environment this weekend without playing Florida State, or Alabama or South Carolina, I don’t know if you perform like that.”
Keely Rochard entered the game for the final 3.1 innings. She threw 63 pitches and allowed just 1 run and 2 hits as the Hokies went on to claim the 5-4 victory.
With the win, Virginia Tech has advanced to the Super Regionals where they will face the Florida Gators. Sunday’s win also means the Hokies will host a Super Regional for the first time in school history.
“These are the moments you dream of, it was right in front of us, we just trusted our approaches trusted ourselves, and played for each other,” senior Mackenzie Lawter finished.