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Softball: Virginia opens 2021 season with split at Red & Black Showcase

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Virginia opened the 2021 softball season at the Red & Black Showcase on Saturday, falling to No. 14 Georgia on a late-inning rally before using their own late-inning theatrics to take a 9-4 win over South Alabama in the nightcap.

Georgia pushed four runs across the plate in the fifth inning to pull away from the Cavaliers in the first game of the day. Virginia used a similar playbook in the nightcap, using a six-run, sixth inning to take the victory over South Alabama.

Senior Kate Covington (McLean, Va.), sophomore Katie Goldberg (Atlanta, Ga.) and junior Donna Friedman (Orange, Calif.) all hit home runs on the day.

GAME ONE: No. 14 Georgia 5, Virginia 2

The Cavaliers struck first against No. 14 Georgia (2-1), but a fifth-inning rally broke things open for the Bulldogs as they pushed four runs across the plate to break a 1-1 stalemate on the way to the victory.

Harris took the loss in 2.0 innings of relief for the Cavaliers as she allowed four runs – two of them earned – on three hits.  She struck out two and walked two. Molly Grube (Chesterfield, Va.) made the start, working 4.0 innings with one run on four hit while striking out two.

Mary Wilson Avant (2-0) picked up the win for Georgia as she allowed two runs on four hits and struck out 11 batters.

Virginia took the early lead on the nationally-ranked Bulldogs as Friedman hit her first home run of the season, taking the first pitch she saw in the first inning and sending it deep to left.

Georgia tied things up with a back-to-back hits, a double and a triple, with one out before the Cavaliers would get an out at the plate and snagged a lineout to keep the game tied at 1-1 after the fourth. The fifth-inning rally broke things open for the Bulldogs, however, as they  pushed four runs across the plate to take the lead on the Cavaliers.

In the fifth, a walk and an error put the first two batters on base before a walk loaded the bases. A strikeout put the first out on the board, but a dribbler down the third base line from Sara Mosley pushed a run home and kept the bases loaded. Georgia’s Sydney Chambley then doubled through the left side for two more runs. A fielding error on a ball back to the circle allowed the fourth run to score in the frame before Virginia would get a strikeout and a lineout to end the frame.

Virginia got a run back in the sixth inning when freshman Leah Boggs (Mansfield, Ohio) scampered home on a wild pitch. She entered to run for Covington who opened the frame with a double. Virginia would load the bases with one out, but the Bulldogs’ ace would get out of the jam before closing things down in the seventh to seal her team’s victory.

GAME TWO: Virginia 9, South Alabama 4

The Cavaliers used the long ball in the nightcap on Saturday to power to a victory over South Alabama (1-2), using a two-run Goldberg home run and a Covington grand slam to take a 9-4 win.

Harris picked up the win in relief, working the final 1.1 innings as she allowed only one hit and struck out one. Mikayla Houge (Collins, Iowa) made the start, allowing two runs on five hits with three strikeouts in her 3.0 innings of work.

Virginia got off to the quick start with the Goldberg home run in the first inning as she drove in Bailey Winscott (Clinton, Miss.) to give the Cavaliers the 2-0 lead. Winscott opened the inning with a walk to reach base before the Goldberg homer.

South Alabama responded with a two-run second inning to tie the game, using a leadoff single and back-to-back doubles with one out to pull even with Virginia.

The Cavaliers moved back in front in the fourth inning when Emma McBride (Magnolia, Texas) used a passed ball and a wild pitch to score after entering the game to run for Ashley Jennings (Forest, Va.). Jennings had opened the inning with a double.

A leadoff triple in the fifth got a rally started for South Alabama as the Jaguars would push two runs across to take back the lead.

Virginia then went to work in the sixth, tying the game when Tori Gilbert (Mechanicsville, Va.) scored on a one-out single from Arizona Ritchie (Stafford, Va.). The Cavaliers would go on to load the bases for Covington before the senior drove the ball over the wall in left center. Virginia would add one more run on a ground-rule double from Friedman to cap the inning.

Harris then closed things out in the seventh to lock up the win.

Comments: UVA coach Joanna Hardin

“It was awesome to be back on the field with this team. We all had some nerves and butterflies going into the game, but the team settled in quickly, which I am so proud of. It’s been 340 days since we played a game and today made all of the challenges and adversity of the last 11 months worth it. Kate Covington had quality at bats leading up to the grand slam. Our offense kept passing the bat down the line, which gave her the opportunity to come up so clutch. Today was team softball all the way around. I love this team. I love being on the field with this team and I can’t wait to get back out there Sunday.

Notes

  • Donna Friedman hit the first home run of the year, taking the first pitch deep in the first inning against Georgia.
  • Friedman went 3-for-7 with a home run, two RBI and a run scored on the day.
  • Kate Covington hit a two-run shot in the first inning against South Alabama to go 3-for-6 with two runs, two RBI on the day.
  • Katie Goldberg hit her first career grand slam to give Virginia the lead against South Alabama. She went 2-for-4 with a run scored and four RBI on the day.
  • Freshman RHP Madison Harris picked up her first win in, taking the decision in relief against South Alabama. She got the decision in both games as she suffered the loss in relief against No. 14 Georgia in the opener.
  • Freshman RHP Mikayla Hogue made her first appearance of the year in the start against South Alabama.

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