The Virginia Tech Hokies (46-8, 21-2) took full advantage of their first hosting duties of an NCAA Super Regional, handing Florida (46-17, 13-11) a series-opening loss Saturday
The Gators entered Blacksburg, Virginia, off a stellar offensive performance against Wisconsin. In the first inning against the Badgers, the Gators rattled off ten runs, setting up a demoralizing 11-0 victory.
The Hokies' second-straight Super Regionals appearance came after a nail-biting 5-4 win over Kentucky. Virginia Tech’s pitchers were locked in as Kentucky went a mere 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Florida senior and right-handed pitcher Elizabeth Hightower commanded the circle for UF but was unable to keep the Hokies off the board in the first. Virginia Tech jumped out to an early lead via a solo home run from sophomore outfielder Emma Ritter.
The Hokies continued to heat up, as a three-run homer from sophomore infielder Cameron Fagan extended the lead to 4-0 in the second inning.
Towards the end of the third, Virginia Tech tacked on another run, this time on an RBI double from junior infielder Kelsey Bennett to make it 5-0.
Ritter claimed another home run in the fourth on a pitch delivered from Florida graduate student and right-handed pitcher Marissa Mesiemore.
With the score standing at 6-0, a weather delay at the top of the fifth caused both teams to pause play and head for cover. Inclement weather forced Gator nation and the Virginia Tech faithful to wait until Saturday for a 10:02 a.m. restart to see who would come out on top.
The final two innings were a defensive clinic, as Virginia Tech senior pitcher Keely Rochard kept Florida at bay for the 6-0 victory.
Florida now faces a tight turnaround and aims to force a game three with a victory Saturday against the Hokies.
Game two of this high-stakes series is set to begin at 12 p.m. and can be watched live on ESPN.
Contact Brenda Bogle at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @bogle_brenda.
Brenda Bogle is a UF journalism senior with a specialization in sports and media. She joined The Alligator in the Fall of 2021.