I'm coaching my daughter's 7/8 year old softball team this year, so I've learned a ton about the intricacies of the game in the last few months. I mention that only to give you some context for the following story about the softball Hoos performing well:
The only women's team at Virginia that has never advanced to an NCAA tournament, the Cavaliers bounced back from a bruising trip to Georgia Tech the previous week with four wins, including two to clinch a weekend series at home against fellow postseason hopeful NC State.
Freshman ace Melanie Mitchell went the distance in Saturday's 4-1 win in 10 innings and again in Sunday's 1-0 clincher in regulation. Mitchell is now 21-13 with 235 strikeouts in 214.1 innings. She may be a work in progress, but she gives Virginia the commodity every program needs to turn the corner: a workhorse ace in the circle.
"She's good now, but I don't even think she's really even -- she's going to be so much better in another year or two years, when she gets in the weight room, gets stronger and gets smarter," Virginia coach Eileen Schmidt said during last week's Georgia Tech series in which Mitchell started all three games. "She didn't really come in as high-profile as some of the other [freshmen pitchers] around the country, but she's worked her tail off. She's an engineering major; she's a smart kid."
If the Cavaliers can avoid a disaster at Boston College on Saturday and Sunday, they should be in the NCAA tournament; they already have wins against Michigan, Arizona and Louisiana-Lafayette, plus a top-30 RPI.
Did you know softball was the only UVa women's program never to make the NCAA tournament? Me either.
I'm just astounded at how well Virginia's spring sports teams are performing. If football and men's basketball would just get their act together, UVa would have the best athletic department in the country.
UPDATE: The Cav Daily has a good story up about the softball Hoos, as well.
UPDATE 2: My team -- the Lightning -- has our first scheduled for Thursday. I'll see you there.