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.
The No. 2 Virginia men’s soccer team captured its sixth NCAA Championship, and first since 1994, with a 3-2 penalty kick shootout win over No. 1 Akron following a 0-0 draw in the NCAA Championship final at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Cavaliers (19-3-3) ended the season on a 16-game unbeaten streak.
The title was the sixth for the Cavaliers in program history, having won the championship in 1989 and from 1991-94. The victory also gave Virginia its 19th team National Championship in school history, the first since men’s lacrosse in 2006.
First soccer championship since my third year at UVa, and I had a blast watching the game today. I wish I had made the trip to North Carolina to see the game in person, despite the nasty weather.
Actually, sitting on the couch with my 5 year old son and 8 year old daughter was pretty sweet, too. Today was a great day.
You may remember when this happened, back in 2002 or so, the year after Donald Hand graduated. Early in the season, UVa was playing on ESPN, and Digger Phelps kept going on and on about how Hand was going to have a great year and really lead Virginia to success. Meanwhile, Hand was actually in the D-League. It was ridiculous. People still refer to it on the boards at The Sabre.
Anyway, fast forward to this evening. It's halftime of the Georgetown-Temple game (I went to Georgetown Law, and I have to root for the Hoyas too). Anyway, Digger Phelps is babbling about something when my wife walks into the room. She starts flipping through a magazine and casually says:
"What's he talking about? Donald Hand?"
My wife is great.
Yesterday -- Sunday, November 15, 2009 -- was a date to remember. I played an actual game of one-on-one basketball in my driveway with my son for the first time. He's five years old. Yeah, I destroyed him.
The clock's ticking, though; it's only a matter of time until he beats me. That's when I'll know that I'm finally, officially, old.