BLACKSBURG – Facing its in-state rival at home on Wednesday in the Commonwealth Clash, No. 19/16 Virginia Tech softball came away with a 7-0 victory over Virginia at Tech Softball Park thanks to a one-hit, complete-game shutout by pitcher Keely Rochard.
Rochard (12-1, 0.88 ERA) was lights out once again, rolling up nine strikeouts in 7.0 innings of work against the Cavaliers (8-16, 4-13 ACC), who lost their 11th straight game to the Hokies (16-4, 10-4).
The righty had a no-hitter with one out left in the bottom of the seventh, but a slow-roller to second base was beaten out by UVA’s Abby Weaver to end the no-hit bid. Rochard, who was named NFCA and ACC Pitcher of the Week earlier this week, has now tossed four consecutive one-hitters..
At the plate, left fielder Kelsey Brown (.421 BA, 11 SBs) had her A-game, racking up a game-high three hits on the day and posting an RBI as well. Fellow outfielder Emma Ritter (.306 BA, 9 SBs) also had a multi-hit day herself, turning in two hits, a grounder to third base she beat out and a liner to right center.
QUOTING TECH PITCHER KEELY ROCHARD
On what’s been working for her so well as of late:
“”Really, everything. Everything is really working pretty well recently. The rise (ball) is just working better this past week. And then my defense behind me has been really good, too.”
QUOTING TECH OUTFIELDER KELSEY BROWN
On what has made the team so successful this year:
“I think the culture has been really good. We have a great group and everyone really gets along. We know how to hit and play defense, and we pitch well. Our coaches are great, too. I feel like we respect the game. And because of that, the game respects us and we do well.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
Rochard went to work in the first inning, getting the Wahoos three up, three down. She induced a grounder to third the first at-bat, then got consecutive swinging strikeouts.
A quiet two innings at the plate then happened for Tech, but the Hokies woke up after that by scoring in four straight innings. Brown opened the door in the bottom of the third, with a single up the middle to plate Ritter with the game’s first run.
Designated player Grace Chavez followed in the next frame with a solo home run to straightaway center. Then Michigan transfer Morgan Overaitis lifted a sacrifice fly to right, scoring pinch runner Maija Louko to make it 3-0 after four innings.
Chavez got another RBI in the fifth with a sac fly to right to score pinch runner Maddy Federico. Then the biggest scoring inning of the day came in the bottom of the sixth when Overaitis hit a blast to right center for a solo home run, catcher Mackenzie Lawter doubled to left center, scoring Ritter, and center fielder Darby Trull reached first on an error by the second baseman, allowing Lawter to cross home with the game’s final run.
Two flyouts to the outfield began the bottom of the seventh, then on a 1-2 count, Weaver hit a little ground ball it just by Rochard towards second and Overaitis made a great play to run in, scoop it and throw it across her body to first base, but Weaver beat it out to ruin the no-hitter. R
With her nine strikeouts on the day, Rochard is now just 26 strikeouts away from passing Jasmin Harrell (2010-13) for the fifth-most in school history. Harrell racked up 588.
Brown, who transferred from James Madison University and is in her second season in Blacksburg, posted her second three-hit game of the season (Feb. 19, Clemson) and the fifth of her career. The Haymarket, Va., native is tied with sophomore Jayme Bailey for the team lead in hits this season with 24.
Third baseman Kelsey Bennett hit her first triple of the season and the fifth of her career, a liner down the right-field line. The Georgia native is slugging at a team-high .846 clip, which ranks fourth in the ACC.
Tech coach Pete D’Amour improved to 7-0 against UVA. The Hokies have outscored the Cavaliers 37-0 during D’Amour’s tenure and lead the all-time series 47-22.