For the Virginia softball team, the Cavalier Classic meant the first four home games of the season at Palmer Park, their gorgeous new facility that they barely used due to a shortened 2020 campaign. The Cavaliers made the most of their opening homestand, going 3-1 and moving to 6-5 overall on the season.
In the series opener Saturday afternoon, the Hoos fell to the James Madison Dukes by a final score of 5-1. JMU’s Odicci Alexander pitched an impressive complete game, only allowing four hits, while striking out seven. For UVA, Mikayla Houge, Mackenzie Wooten, and Clare Zureich all took turns in the circle.
Leadoff hitter and shortstop for the Cavaliers, Katie Goldberg had two hits in the game, and Donna Friedman was responsible for the Cavalier’s only run with a solo home run in the seventh inning. The Dukes scored one run in the second, third, and fourth innings and tacked two more on in the seventh, providing a well-balanced, offensive attack. The UVA pitchers allowed seven walks in the game, giving the Dukes even more opportunities to capitalize.
The second game of the day featured a new opponent, the George Washington Colonials, and Virginia bounced back from their loss, to earn a 3-2 victory. Morgan Murphy earned the win and was just one out short of a complete game, as she pitched 6.2 innings, only giving up two runs on five hits. Madison Harris got the first save of her career, striking out a Colonial batter to end the game.
The Hoos put up all three of their runs in a sixth inning that featured a hit by pitch, a single, a sacrifice bunt, a two run triple by Arizona Ritchie, and a fielding error. Despite only having two hits in the inning and six throughout the game, Joanna Hardin’s team made the most of the production and stormed ahead late in the game.
On Sunday, the Cavaliers built on their momentum and defeated the Colonials two more times. The first game was a dramatic 4-3 walk off victory in 9 innings. The Hoos used three different pitchers to get through the extra innings affair, while the Colonials stuck with starter Sierra Lange the entire game.
UVA opened the game with two runs in the first inning on four singles, but George Washington responded with three runs of their own in the top of the second. The top of the fifth inning featured three straight defensive gems: a nice play on the run from 2B Arizona Ritchie, an incredible diving catch from RF Kate Covington, and another great catch from CF Bailey Winscott. The Hoos added a run in the 6th to tie the game at three, and then came out victorious in the ninth inning courtesy of a Morgan Murphy double. Murphy, Katie Goldberg, and Donna Friedman had 3 hits apiece and were involved in all four of the runs scored.
In the final game of the weekend, Virginia once again took down George Washington, this time 3-1. Mikayla Houge was dominant in a complete game where she gave up just three hits and one run on a solo homer in the 7th inning. After striking out a career high 12 batters against Pittsburgh last week, the freshman pitched to contact and registered six flyouts, ten groundouts, and just three strikeouts. Left fielder Emma McBride had two hits and scored two runs for the Hoos.
The impressive 3-1 weekend is the start of a nine game homestand, where the Hoos will take on Clemson for a four game series and then have a single game matchup with rival Virginia Tech as they jump back into ACC play after the out-of-conference tournament.