CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The Virginia softball team (23-23, 6-12 ACC) concludes Atlantic Coast Conference play with a three-game series against NC State this weekend at The Park. On Saturday, the Cavaliers will also honor the five members of the 2012 senior class.
A number of activities will take place Saturday, when Virginia takes on the Wolfpack (22-28, 4-13 ACC) in a doubleheader at 12 p.m. The first 200 fans will receive a free t-shirt and the Virginia Athletics Department will also hold a free tailgate between games, with Domino's pizza and Pepsi products, while supplies last. Fans can also complete their set of UVa trading cards when the third and final set is unveiled.
Following both games Saturday, Virginia will honor its five members of the senior class - Kennedy Byxbee (Paradise Valley, Ariz.), Giannina Cipolloni (Phildelphia, Pa.), Stephanie Coates (Gloucester, Va.), Alexa Martinez (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and former player and current manager Rachel Harvey (Bluemont, Va.) - in a postgame ceremony.
The series will conclude at 12 p.m. Sunday. Live statistics for all three games will be available on VirginiaSports.com.
Virginia currently sits in sixth place in the league standings, while NC State follows in seventh. There are two weeks left in the regular season, however, the Cavaliers are off next week for final examinations.
The Cavaliers picked up momentum heading into the final regular season series with a doubleheader sweep over Liberty Wednesday at home. Virginia won a back-and-forth battle in game one, 6-5, before rolling to a 7-1 victory in game two. In the nightcap, junior pitcher Melanie Mitchell (White Plains, Md.) matched her season high with 15 strikeouts and classmate Alex Skinkis (La Palma, Calif.) hit two home runs en route to the win.
Martinez paces the Virginia offense with a .317 average on the year while sophomore Erica Cipolloni (Philadephia, Pa.) has upped her season average to .300 in addition to a team-best six home runs. In ACC games, Martinez leads the way with a .375 average and sophomore Stephanie Harris (Knoxville, Tenn.) contributes a .311 average.
Junior pitcher Melanie Mitchell, coming off her first save and her 16th win of the season in consecutive games against Liberty, posts a 1.50 ERA, a mark that ranks second among conference pitchers. Mitchell's 250 strikeouts also rank second in the league, and the mark is already the sixth-most in a single season in Virginia history.
NC State did not play a midweek game and is coming off a series loss at home against Maryland last weekend. The Terps won the first game 5-3 before the Wolfpack took the second, 5-4, in 10 innings. Maryland then claimed the series by edging NC State 4-3 in the finale.
Freshman Renada Davis leads the Wolfpack at the plate with a .341 average and 30 runs. Teammate Bethaney Wells also contributes a .302 average while adding a team-best 38 RBI and 11 home runs. In the circle, senior Morgan Peeler (8-9, 2.66 ERA) and freshman Emily Weiman (13-18, 2.73 ERA) share the pitching duties.
NC State leads Virginia in the all-time series, 14-12. Last year in Raleigh, all three games were decided by one run. The Wolfpack claimed the series, two games to one.