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April 9, 2017

PITTSBURGH -- The University of Pittsburgh softball team topped Virginia Tech 8-0 in five innings Sunday, April 9, picking up its first ACC sweep of the season at Vartabedian Field in Pittsburgh, Pa.
The Panthers (21-16, 4-11 ACC) capitalized on the Hokies (15-24, 5-13 ACC) four errors in the field, and minimized their own, to help pull off the victory.
Freshman pitcher Brittany Knight (10-8) tossed 5.0 innings of shutout ball, allowing just one hit and one walk, while striking out a batter. In two appearances this weekend against Virginia Tech, Knight didn't allow a single run in 10.1 innings pitched.
"Brittany [Knight] was outstanding today," said head coach Holly Aprile. "She worked ahead of all of her batters, got a lot of mishits and easy ground balls for us to field. I thought we played nice defense behind her as well, but she was great.
Freshman outfielder Connor McGaffic paced the Panthers with two hits and two runs, while senior Kaitlin Manuel, junior McKayla Taylor and freshman Valerie Ortega each chimed in with two RBIs. In total, Pitt's offense produced nine hits over five innings of play.
Taylor had the Panthers lone home run on the day, a two-run shot to center field in the second inning to put Pitt up 2-0. The Huntington Beach, Calif., native had three home runs in the series sweep over the Hokies, posting a long ball in each game of the series. Taylor currently holds a four-game home run streak after going yard in the Panthers' mid-week win over Saint Francis Wednesday, April 5.
Pitt got on the board first, striking in the second inning. After freshman Alexee Haynes walked to begin the frame, Taylor blasted a ball over the center field wall for a two-run home run, marking her sixth of the season.
The Panthers added to their lead in the fourth inning after miscues from Virginia Tech pitcher Carrie Eberle. McGaffic reached on a walk to start the inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Sophomore Marissa DeMatteo grounded to the right side to move McGaffic over to third, before a second wild pitch from the Hokies enabled her to touch home. Pitt led 3-0 at the end of the inning.
A two-out rally helped the Panthers break the game open in the fifth inning, scoring five runs to conclude the game early. A double off the wall in left center by junior Erin Hershman got things going for Pitt in the frame. The Mars, Pa., native scored on the next play, a single to left by McGaffic which extended the Panthers' lead to 4-0.
With McGaffic on first, Pitt's third consecutive single hit by DeMatteo and an Olivia Gray walk loaded the bases for Manuel. Manuel lined one to center field, bringing home two more runs, while reaching second base on an error.
Ortega followed that with a hard-hit ball to left, bringing home Gray and Manuel, pushing the Panthers lead to 8-0 and ending the game after five innings.
The five-run outburst in the fifth inning all occurred with two outs.
The Panthers will host Syracuse for a three-game series April 14-16. The two ACC foes will face-off Friday, April 14 at 5 p.m. and Saturday, April 15 at 1 p.m., while a Noon start time is slated for Sunday, April 16.
Knight, Lively Bats Help Pitt Sweep Virginia Tech

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