April 8, 2017
PITTSBURGH - The University of Pittsburgh softball team improved to 20-16 on the season after sweeping a doubleheader against Virginia Tech Saturday, April 08 at Vartabedian Field in the Petersen Sports Complex.
The Panthers [20-16, 3-11 ACC] topped the Hokies [15-23, 5-12 ACC] 11-5 in the opening game, before winning game two 9-1 in five innings.
Pitt put together a dominant day at the plate, tallying a total of 20 hits. Juniors Giorgiana Zeremenko and McKayla Taylor each recorded four hits apiece for the Panthers, while freshman Valerie Ortega put together three. Ortega finished the day with a team-leading five RBIs.
Four different Pitt batters hit home runs in the two games, with a pair coming from Taylor. Zeremenko, sophomore Olivia Gray and freshman Alexee Haynes each had one.
In the circle, junior Kayla Harris got the nod in game one but was replaced by Brittany Knight in the second inning after giving up five runs, four of which were unearned. Knight dominated the remainder of the game, striking out five while holding the Hokies scoreless through 5.1 innings pitched.
In game two, Harris found her groove as she let up just one run in the third while striking out four.
Game One: Pitt 11, Virginia Tech 5
Pitt opened the scoring in game one on a leadoff homer in the bottom of the first inning by Gray to put the Panthers up 1-0.
Virginia Tech led the Pitt following the top of the second as the Hokies scored five runs on four hits and an error, but the Panthers answered in the bottom half of the inning and tied the game 5-5.
Junior Erin Hershman open the second with a bunt single, advanced to two on an overthrow by Virginia Tech's pitcher and moved to third on a passed ball. A single up the middle by Taylor scored Hershman. Another error allowed sophomore Alexis Solak to reach base, before a ground out to short by freshman Hannah Edwards moved both runners into scoring position. A shallow ball to right field by Gray scored Taylor and moved Solak to third. Gray and Solak would count as the final runs of the innings as Ortega singled to right field. The Panthers would go on to bat around before the leadoff batter Hershman would make the final out.
Pitt added three more runs in the bottom of the third to extend its lead to 8-5. Taylor singled to start off the frame, while Solak and Gray walked to load the bases for Ortega who doubled deep to right center, clearing the bases.
The Panthers scored three additional runs in the game, one in the fourth on a single by Edwards with Hershman on base following an error, and two in the sixth on three runs, including a Taylor long ball, and an error.
Knight would retire Virginia Tech in order to close out game.
Game Two: Pitt 9, Virginia Tech 1 [Five Innings]
In game two, Pitt struck first in the bottom of the second on a two-run shot by McKayla Taylor, bringing around Haynes from second.
Virginia Tech cut the Panthers' lead in half in the top of the third as a pair of doubles set up an RBI-single for Emma Strouth.
Back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the third by Zeremenko and Haynes put Pitt out in front 6-1. With one away, Zeremenko put a ball straight away up the middle, scoring Manuel and Ortega. Haynes followed up in the next at-bat with a shot of her own over the left field wall.
The Panthers closed out the game with a three-run fourth inning to take home a 9-1 win. Consecutive walks issued to freshman Connor McGaffic and Gray set up runners on for Manuel, who grounded out but advanced both baserunners. McGaffic scored on a fielding error by the Hokies in Ortega's next at-bat, while Gray and pinch runner Kaitlyn Kruger came around on single by Zeremenko.
Pitt and Virginia Tech close out the series with a single game Sunday, April 8 at Vartabedian Field with a start time slated for Noon.
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