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Virginia softball team tops Radford to end four-game skid

Virginia softball team tops Radford to end four-game skid

UVa softball

Virginia's Arizona Ritchie celebrates during the Cavaliers' 2-1 victory over Radford on Tuesday at Palmer Park.

It didn’t come easily, but the Virginia softball team broke its four-game losing streak Tuesday with a competitive midweek win over an in-state foe.

The Cavaliers defeated Radford 2-1 at Palmer Park to end their recent skid. Junior pitcher Aly Rayle retired the first seven batters of the game and allowed just one run across 5 2/3 innings. Rayle improved to 3-5 this spring with the victory.

“I was proud of just the effort, the fight, the grit,” UVa head coach Joanna Hardin said. “Proud of the pitchers. They attacked the zone really well.”

Virginia (14-25, 9-20 ACC) took an early lead after junior shortstop Katie Goldberg led off the game with a double to right field. A fielding error in right field allowed Goldberg to reach third base. Junior second baseman Arizona Ritchie followed with a sacrifice bunt, which scored Goldberg.

The Cavaliers extended their lead to 2-0 in the fourth inning. Junior right fielder Tori Gilbert doubled down the left-field line with one out, and sophomore third baseman Mikaila Fox followed up the extra-base hit with an RBI single to left field.

Those were the only runs the Cavaliers scored against Radford starter Jessie Marvin. The senior right-handed pitcher tossed six innings, allowing eight hits and two runs while striking out two.

With UVa’s bats putting together just enough hits to earn a lead, Rayle cruised in the circle. She kept the Highlanders off the scoreboard in the first five innings, keeping Radford (14-25, 7-5 Big South) off balance at the plate.

A defensive gem helped Rayle get through the fifth with a shutout intact. Freshman Leah Boggs, who checked into the game in right field for Gilbert in the fifth, chased after a foul ball and made a diving catch in right field to record the final out of the frame.

“Defensively we played solid,” Hardin said. “Big play out in right field, foul territory, Leah Boggs laying out and making a play.”

Radford finally put a run on the board in the top of the sixth, stringing together three two-out singles. After the first two singles, Hardin took Rayle out of the game for freshman pitcher Mikayla Houge.

The third single, which came off the bat of Radford junior outfielder Destiny Freeman, plated a run for the Highlanders. Houge retired Radford in order in the top of the seventh to secure UVa’s 2-1 victory.

While the Highlanders hoped to pull the upset, the loss represented a better showing against an ACC squad. Radford entered the matchup 0-4 against ACC teams this season, losing the four contests by a combined score of 41-2. It was much more competitive Tuesday.

UVa quickly returns to action when it faces Liberty (29-12, 10-3 ASUN) in Lynchburg on Wednesday at 4 p.m. The Cavaliers fell to the Flames, who are receiving votes in the latest top 25 polls, 13-2 in six innings earlier this spring.

“Excited about the win,” Hardin said. “We’ll take it and use the positive for tomorrow against Liberty.”

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