The Virginia softball team (11-23, 4-5 ACC) scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to rally to beat NC State 8-7 Sunday in the final game of the series at The Park. The Cavaliers, who trailed 7-3 in the sixth inning, won its second Atlantic Coast Conference series of the season.
UVa scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to pull within one heading into the final inning of play. After ending the top half of the seventh with a double play, Virginia’s Sarah Tacke singled down the right field line to put the tying run on base with one out. Jennifer Bowles came on to pinch run and moved to third on a single by O’Leary. O’Leary took second on the throw to third, putting the winning run in scoring position. The next batter, Alison Pittman, reached on a fielding error by NC State first baseman Lisa Nentwig and a second throwing error allowed both Bowles and O’Leary to score.
The Wolfpack committed seven errors in the game. Virginia outhit NC State 12-10 and committed just one error defensively.
First-year Lauren McCaskey led UVa at the plate, going 3-for-4 in the game with a double and two singles. Lindsey Preuss and Alison Pittman each had two hits, including a single and a double, and O’Leary finished with two singles.
Whitney Holstun, who came on in relief, got the win in the circle for Virginia. Holstun threw 2 2/3 innings and allowed one run on three hits while fanning two. Karla Wilburn started the game and allowed six runs, all earned, on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings of work. Wilburn also struck out three batters and neither pitcher allowed a walk.
Virginia led 3-0 after two innings of play. In the first, Pittman singled to right field with one out. Haller followed with a single to center to put runners on first and second. Carly Winger would reach on a fielder’s choice with Pittman being out at third but a NC State error allowed Haller to reach third. Pruess singled up the middle to score Haller.
In the second, the Cavaliers added two more runs. Again with one out, Abby Snyder singled and Sarah Tacke reached on an error by the third baseman to put runners on first and second. O’Leary followed with an infield single to load the bases. When Alison Rife came on to pinch-hit for Pittman, all three runners advanced on a wild pitch, including Snyder, who came home to score. Rife reached on a fielder’s choice when Tacke got thrown out at home, but O’Leary eventually scored on a Winger infield single to make it 3-0.
NC State responded in the top of the third with a four-run inning. The Wolfpack combined to score all seven of their runs on four home runs, including two from freshman catcher Alyssa Allbritten. After back-to-back singles in the third, Shanna Smith hit a three-run bomb, her second of the series, to tie the game. Two batters later, Allbritten hit her first shot to left center giving NC State a 4-3 advantage.
The Wolfpack made it 6-3 in the fifth thanks to Allbritten’s second homer to left center with one on. In the sixth, Kristine Becktholdt led off the inning with a solo shot to right center and NC State led 7-3 heading into the bottom of the sixth.
That’s when the Virginia rally began, as the Cavaliers put up three in the bottom half of the inning to cut the lead to one. O’Leary led off with a walk and moved around to to third on Pittman’s double to left. Kelly Haller then flied out to right but moved along the runners on the sacrifice, scoring Haller and advancing Pittman to third. Then with two outs, Preuss ripped a RBI double to right scoring Pittman. McCaskey followed with a double of her own to score Preuss.
Virginia will travel to Longwood for a doubleheader Wednesday beginning at 2 p.m. in Farmville, Va. Live stats will be available online at VirginiaSports.com.