LAKEWOOD, Calif. (hokiesports.com) - A walk-off single and a grand slam in the eighth inning highlighted a pair of dramatic wins for the 23rd-ranked Virginia Tech softball team Thursday on the first day of the Long Beach State Invitational at Mayfair Park. Tech rallied for a 3-2 win in the opener over Cal State Fullerton and then took down Long Beach State 6-1 in eight innings in the nightcap.
In the first game, Tech fell behind 2-0 in the first inning to the Titans, but rallied once again to pull out the win. It marked the fifth straight game that Tech’s opponent had scored first but the Hokies had come back to win.
Tech cut the lead in half in the bottom of the first inning when Lauren Gaskill scored on Kelsey Mericka’s RBI single. In the fourth inning, Gaskill blasted a solo home run to tie up the game and that’s the way it stood until the bottom of the seventh inning. Bkaye Smith singled and moved up on Kylie McGoldrick’s single, bringing up senior Courtney Liddle. Liddle came thru, singling through the left side to bring home Smith in dramatic fashion with the walk-off win.
After a rough first inning, freshman Kelly Heinz buckled down the rest of the way. She went the distance, allowing two runs on four hits (none after the second inning) with five strikeouts. The Hokies had 10 hits, led by two apiece from Gaskill, Mericka, Smith and Liddle. McGoldrick and Logan Spaw also had a hit.
The second game was a pitcher’s dual as Tech’s Jasmin Harrell battled LBSU’s Erin Jones-Wesley. The two traded blows for five innings before Tech got on the board first in the sixth inning when Dani Anderson scored on Betty Rose’s single to left-center field. In the bottom of the sixth, Harrell walked in a run to tie it up and head coach Scot Thomas put Heinz in with the bases loaded and one out. She got a pair of big strikeouts to keep it tied as the two teams eventually went to extra innings.
There, Nina Compton scored on Logan Spaw’s single and then Tech eventually loaded the bases for Kylie McGoldrick. In her first day back in almost a month after suffering a knee injury, the sophomore obliterated an 0-2 offering over the men’s fence behind the deep breakway fence for a grand slam to put Tech comfortably ahead 6-1 in the eighth inning. Heinz made easy work of the 49ers in the bottom of the eighth as Tech won its 11th straight game.
Harrell, a native of nearby Irvine, went 5.1 innings in front of friends and family. She allowed one run on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Heinz (W, 6-0) went 2.2 innings allowing no hits, two walks with five strikeouts. Jones-Wesley had 12 strikeouts in the circle for LBSU, who fell to 12-7.
Tech (14-1) is scheduled to face Weber State (1-16) Friday morning at 11:30 a.m. local time (2:30 p.m. Eastern) and then will take on No. 9 UCLA (18-3) at 4:30 p.m. local time (7:30 p.m. Eastern).
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