KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Two runs in the first inning were enough to lift the Virginia Tech softball team to a 4-1 victory over UAB in the first round of the NCAA Softball Tournament at the University of Tennessee's Lee Stadium.
In the first inning, Lauren Gaskill led off with a walk and the stole second base. Two batters later, junior Courtney Liddle doubled off the wall to plate Gaskill and then freshman Kelsey Mericka singled to right field to make it 2-0.
That's the way thing stood until the Blazers made things interesting in the sixth inning. A pair of walks was followed by a sharp single up the middle by Kristen McGrath to score a run, but Tech starter Jasmin Harrell got a big strikeout looking to end the threat.
Leading 2-1, the Hokies tacked on two big insurance runs in the bottom half of the inning. Kat Banks singled through the right side and moved up on Bkaye Smith's walk before Gaskill singled up the middle to drive in Banks. After a 48-minute lightning delay, McGoldrick reached on an error to plate Smith to give Tech a 4-1 lead.
“We got out to a good start, and we knew that this UAB team was pretty scrappy, and I think they did a good job of staying with it and made it interesting in the end," Tech head coach Scot Thomas said. "I was pleased that once we got the outs, that we scored a couple more runs and got the win. It’s always good to go into Saturday with a win.”
At the plate, Tech had eight hits, led by two apiece from Mericka and Banks. Gaskill, McGoldrick, Liddle and Betty Rose each had one.
In the circle, Harrell (W, 30-14) went the distance, allowing a run on four hits with four walks and three strikeouts. UAB went with Lannah Campbell (L, 15-7) in the circle. She went 3.0 innings, giving up two runs on five hits with a walk and a strikeout. Leigh Streetman pitched the final three innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
Tech, the No. 2 seed in the Knoxville Regional will now take on the winner of the Tennessee/Miami (Ohio) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in the winner's bracket.
For updates on Virginia Tech softball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Softball).