CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The Virginia softball team (32-18, 12-5 ACC) will look to clinch second place in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings when it plays host to No. 22 Florida State (39-14, 10-8 ACC) this weekend in the team's final regular season series of the year. The Cavaliers and Seminoles will play a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Saturday before concluding the series at noon Sunday at The Park.
Beginning at 12:15 p.m. Saturday, returning members of the Virginia women's basketball team will be signing autographs at The Park, leading up to the 1 p.m. doubleheader start. Women's basketball hall of fame head coach Debbie Ryan will throw out the first pitch and the athletics department will host a tailgate with free Domino's pizza and Pepsi for all fans, while supplies last. Prizes will also be given away as part of Fan Appreciation Weekend.
On Sunday, the Cavaliers will honor their three seniors - Nicole Koren, Abby Snyder and Sarah Tacke - in a special postgame ceremony.
Virginia, which boasts a 15-3 mark at home this season, is coming off a record-setting series last weekend at Boston College. The Cavaliers collected three conference wins with a sweep over the Eagles to set a school record. The previous mark was nine ACC wins during the 2005 campaign. UVa also set school records with five home runs in game one of the Saturday doubleheader; Tacke then set the individual record with three home runs in game two.
The Cavaliers have won nine of their last 10 games, including six straight. Tacke paces the UVa offense this season with a .383 batting average, which ranks fourth among ACC players. She has also contributed 10 doubles, 10 home runs and a team-best 40 RBI. Koren is second on the squad with a .318 average and 28 RBI; she leads the team with 11 homers on the year. Freshman Alex Skinkis is hitting .275 with 18 RBI while four Cavaliers - Clara Kendall (17 stolen bases), Alison Pittman (14), Taylor Williams (11) and Abby Snyder (10) lead UVa on the basepaths.
Freshman Melanie Mitchell continues to rack up solid performances in the circle for the Orange and Blue. Her 25 wins, the most in the ACC, are just two shy of tying Lisa Palmer's school record 27 wins, set in 1988. Mitchell's 268 strikeouts rank second among conference pitchers; she has a 2.72 ERA on the season.
Virginia will have to beat Florida State once to finish ahead of the Seminoles in the league standings. FSU currently sits in third place; Georgia Tech (16-2 ACC) has already clinched the No. 1 seed in the upcoming ACC Championship, set for May 14-16 in Blacksburg, Va.
No. 22 FSU has dropped its last two conference series with 1-2 records at Virginia Tech two weeks ago and at home vs. the Yellow Jackets last weekend. Senior Carly Wynn leads the Seminoles with a .393 batting average, which ranks third among ACC players, in addition to 18 doubles, eight triples and 32 RBI.
Pitchers Sarah Hamilton, a junior, and Terese Gober, a senior, lead the Florida State pitching staff. Hamilton posts an 18-7 record with a 1.31 ERA. She has 11 complete games this season and 277 strikeouts in 175 2/3 innings of work. Gober is 20-7 with a 2.21 ERA and has 184 punchouts in 161 2/3 innings.
The Seminoles lead the all-time series with Virginia, 62-15, including a series sweep last year in Tallahassee. The last time the Cavaliers defeated FSU was 2006, a 1-0 victory in the first game of a doubleheader.