Home Virginia sweeps doubleheader at #3 Duke, taking weekend series in Durham

Virginia sweeps doubleheader at #3 Duke, taking weekend series in Durham

Chris Graham
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Virginia swept a doubleheader at No. 3 Duke with a pair of one-run wins on Saturday to claim the weekend series over the Blue Devils and lock up a berth in the ACC Softball Championships.

It capped an exciting 24 hours for the ‘Hoos (30-15, 13-8 ACC), who played three complete games in that span and covered 25.1 innings of softball.

Virginia and Duke (39-6, 17-4 ACC) played a 12-inning game on Friday night that started at 6 p.m. before capping the series with the Saturday doubleheader that ended at 5:35 p.m.

Virginia took the lead in the fourth in Game 1 with a grand slam to left from Jade Hylton. The Cavaliers loaded the bases with a leadoff single up the middle from Kelly Ayer and back-to-back bunt singles from Sarah Coon and Kelsey Hackett.

UVA grounded into a pair of fielder’s choice outs before Hylton took the 2-2 pitch deep to put the ‘Hoos on top.

Duke responded in the bottom of the fifth, taking advantage of a pair of errors to put two in scoring position. A fielding error on a bunt put the first runner on and a throwing error after a diving stop on a ground ball to second allowed both runners to move up an extra base.

The first run came home on a sac fly to left from Kelly Torres before a passed ball moved the trail runner to third. She then came home on a sac fly to left as Duke cut the lead to 4-3.

The seventh inning saw the Blue Devils get a runner with a leadoff single, and UVA coach Joanna Hardin brought in Eden Bigham from the bullpen. A groundout to short moved the tying run to second before a hit batter and a single up the middle loaded the bases with Blue Devils with one out.

Bigham then got a ground ball to third, where Coon made the force play and threw home for the tag as the double play clinched the win.

Courtney Layne (3-1) picked up the win, allowing three runs – one of them earned – on four hits and a walk in 4.0 innings of work. Bigham picked up her third save of the season.

Virginia got on the board in Game 2 with a two-run home run from Hylton in the third inning. Hackett scored on the play after leading the inning off with a single to center.

The ‘Hoos extended the lead in the fourth with a two-out single up the middle from Hackett that drove in Kailyn Jones from second.

Jones entered to run at second for Macee Eaton, who was hit by a pitch to open the inning and moved into scoring position on a single from Ayer.

Duke got on the board in the sixth with an RBI triple to center from Aminah Vega that scored Kelly Torres from second. Torres reached on a single through the left side and took second on a groundout to second. Vega then came home with a two-out single up the middle from Gisele Tapia to cut the lead to 3-2 heading to the seventh.

The Virginia pitching staff held things in check in the final frame to lock up the doubleheader sweep and series win over the Blue Devils.

Mikayla Houge (2-3) picked up the win, working 5.2 innings and with two runs allowed on six hits with one strikeout. Madi Harris picked up the save, her second of the season.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].