The softball program defeated UCLA in the first game of the NCAA Super Regional this past spring which served as the program’s Moment of Celebration.
After making it out of the Tempe Regional as an unseeded team, Virginia Tech softball took down No.-2 UCLA 7-2 to go up 1-0 in its NCAA Super Regional.
The Hokies (37-13) handed the Bruins (44-5) just their fifth loss of the season and first of the 2021 NCAA Tournament behind Keely Rochard’s (29-8) three-hitter. The junior took a perfect game into the fifth inning and closed out Thursday’s win after allowing just two runs to the 2019 national champions.
Tech had another monster outing at the plate, putting up seven runs on 11 hits and handing Bruins’ star pitcher Rachel Garcia (16-1) her first loss of the season. Kelsey Bennett started the Hokies’ night with a two-run triple in the top of the first and they never looked back. Freshman Cameron Fagan led the team with three hits and tied Bennett with a game-high two runs batted in.
With the win, the Hokies are one win away from reaching the Women’s College World Series for the second time in program history (2008).
After Kelsey Brown and Fagan led the game off with two infield singles, Bennett crushed a ball into right-center field and legged out her third triple of the season. Given a 2-0 lead, Rochard came out dealing, striking out the first six UCLA batters and retiring 13 Bruins in a row to start the game.
The Hokies struck again in the top of the fourth inning when Fagan hit a single into left field with the bases loaded, scoring Darby Trull and Emma Ritter. Tech would make it a 5-0 ball game in the top of the fifth after Addy Greene singled into right field with two on, scoring Jayme Bailey. Mackenzie Lawter got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded later in the inning and the Hokies held a 6-0 lead.
The Bruins were able to break through in the bottom of the fifth and score two runs but that’s all they could scrape off Rochard. Brown drove in an insurance run for Tech in the top of the seventh inning from an RBI single before Rochard closed out the win in the bottom half.
- Rochard recorded 12 strikeouts Thursday night, her 15th double-digit strikeout game of the season.
- Three Hokies had multi-hit games Thursday, led by Fagan’s three. Brown and Bennett each had two hits in Game 1.
- Five of the Hokies’ seven runs batted in came with two outs, including Bennett’s two-run triple and Fagan’s two-run single.
- Hokie lead-off hitters went 5 for 7 Thursday and Tech only had one inning without a baserunner (he sixth).