The Virginia Cavaliers (8-14, 4-13 ACC) bounced back from getting swept two series in a row to split a four-game series against the N.C. State Wolfpack (14-8, 10-8 ACC). The teams traded wins as the Hoos took games 1 and 3, while the Pack took 2 and 4.
In the series opener, the Virginia Cavaliers won 4-2 UVA pitcher Aly Rayle dominated in a complete game effort, striking out nine and giving up just five hits and two runs. This was Rayle’s first start of the season after being one of the main pitchers for the Hoos in the past, and she picked up her first win of the season. On offense, Tory Gilbert hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the first, which was her fourth of the season. Katie Goldberg and Emma McBride hit back-to-back doubles in the second inning, and Arizona Ritchie hit an RBI single in the fifth inning.
In the second game on Saturday, N.C. State bounced back to take a 6-4 victory. UVA got things going in the bottom of the second with a four-run inning, courtesy of an RBI double from Savanna Avilla and a bases clearing two-out triple from leadoff hitter Katie Goldberg after a nine-pitch at bat.
However, the Wolfpack responded with four runs of their own in the top of the third to tie the game. A hit by pitch and an error put runners on, and then Angie Rizzi hit a two-run double and Logan Morris hit a two-run single against Mikayla Houge. The Wolfpack added two more runs to take the lead in the fifth inning with two RBI singles against Clare Zureich, who took the loss in the game. N.C. State’s Sydney Nester picked up the victory after pitching a complete game and working around eight hits and six walks to give up four runs.
Game three was a defensive battle with a total of four hits, and the Hoos came out on top by a score of 2-0. UVA’s Molly Grube pitched 5.1 impressive innings and gave up just two hits in her win, and Mikayla Houge earned the save in 1.2 perfect innings of work. For N.C. State, Estelle Czech took the difficult loss because both runs were unearned and she pitched a dominant game, allowing just two hits.
UVA’s two runs came in the bottom of the first, with the help of the N.C. State defense. The top of the lineup of Katie Goldberg and Emma McBride wreaked havoc on the basepaths as Goldberg reached on an error by the shortstop, McBride reached on an error by the pitcher on a sacrifice bunt, and then they executed a double steal as McBride stole second and Goldberg stole home. Abby Weaver pushed the second run across with an RBI single later in the inning. Those two runs would be all that was necessary for the Hoos to come away victorious.
In the final game, N.C. State earned the series split as they shut out the Hoos, 5-0. The Wolfpack picked up an unearned run in the first, and tacked on three more runs in the third inning on an Angie Rizzi triple and a Logan Morris two-run homer off of UVA pitcher Aly Rayle. Rizzi finished 2-2 in the contest and scored two runs and Morris drove in three of her team’s five runs.
Meanwhile, the Hoos managed just five baserunners in the game off of two hits and three walks as N.C. State pitchers Estelle Czech and Brooklyn Lucero dominated. UVA used four pitchers in the series finale, and Aly Rayle took the loss for the Cavaliers.
After the series split, UVA will face rival Virginia Tech in two different games that are six days apart. They will face off in Blacksburg on March 24th, and then head home to Charlottesville on March 30th to cap the short series.