KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Virginia Tech opened its 2014 NCAA Softball Tournament Friday afternoon with a heart-stopping 4-3 victory against Lipscomb at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium on the campus of Tennessee.
Lipscomb grabbed a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning, scoring an unearned run on an error by Dani Anderson, but in the third inning, Lauren Gaskill and Kylie McGoldrick singled and then Katey Smith was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Amanda Ake fouled off three pitches before lacing a three-run triple to the gap to make it 3-1.
Tech starter Kelly Heinz held the Lady Bisons in check for the next three innings, retiring 13 batters in a row before surrendering two unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
In the top of the seventh inning, Gaskill picked up her third hit of the game and moved to second base on McGoldrick’s ground out. Freshman Vanessa Gonzalez doubled off the shortstop’s glove, allowing Gaskill to move to third base and the ball rolled out of play onto the top step of the dugout, allowing Gaskill to score on the dead ball.
The Lady Bisons didn’t go down without a fight in the seventh inning, putting runners on second and third base with just one out, but Heinz got a strikeout of slugger Kristen Sturdivant – who hit the walk-off home run in the previous meeting between the two -- and a groundout to end the game to put Tech into the winner’s bracket.
Heinz was on her game, allowing three unearned runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
At the plate, Gaskill led the way with three hits and scored two runs while McGoldrick had two hits. Ake had a hit and three RBIs while Gonzalez, Logan Spaw, Katey Smith and Bailey Liddle each had one.
Tech (36-21) will now face the winner of 10th-seeded Tennessee and Charleston Southern on Saturday.