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Virginia’s run in NCAA Tournament ends with 6-0 loss to #3 Tennessee

Chris Graham
joanna hardin uva softball
Photo: UVA Athletics

This time last year, Joanna Hardin’s contract was up, and some observers were telling me that UVA should consider cutting bait and moving on to find a new softball coach.

On Sunday, Hardin had Virginia in a regional final.

“What a hell of a year. So much pride,” said Hardin, whose ‘Hoos fell to Tennessee, 6-0, in the final of the Knoxville Regional on Sunday.

UVA (34-20) won a pair of games with #23 Miami to get to the final, but Tennessee (43-10), the #3 national seed, were just too much for the Cavaliers, winning 12-0 in a game on Saturday ahead of the shutout win on Sunday.

The decisive inning in this one was a three-run third for Tennessee, the big hit in that inning being a two-run double from Rylie West, who had put the Volunteers on the board in the first with a two-out, two-run single.

The lead moved to 6-0 in the fifth with a solo home run to left from West, who was 3-for-4 with the homer and five RBIs on the day.

Eden Bigham (16-8, 2.63 ERA) took the loss for Virginia, allowing five runs on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts through 2.1 innings of work.

Madi Harris (5-2, 1.55 ERA) closed out the final 4.2 innings, allowing one run on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

“It’s a bittersweet moment. You want to soak it all in, but there’s the realization that it’s the last time you’ll be on the field with some of these girls,” Hardin said after the game. “I have tons of pride and am grateful for the opportunities to coach this senior class who committed six years ago with a dream to be here today and no reason to believe it was possible, yet here we are. I’m really proud of them, the team and my staff. It’s been a hike to get here, but here we are.”

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].