Hokies Softball Season Recap – Virginia Tech Athletics

BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech softball completed a memorable and historic 2021 season, culminating in the program’s second ever appearance in the NCAA Super Regionals.
 
In head coach Pete D’Amour‘s second full season, the Hokies went three rounds with 2019 National Champion UCLA in the super regionals, the second time that D’Amour has brought Tech to the NCAA Tournament.
 
“After every season, I always ask myself ‘Were we a better team at the end of the year than when we started last September?’ This team had the potential to make a run at the World Series last fall and we ultimately made that run,” D’Amour said. “We could have played better at times this season, but we always rebounded and finished strong. I’m proud of the ladies for that.
 
“Looking toward next season, we know what it will take to push us over the hump and take the next step,” D’Amour continued. “We don’t need ‘wholesale’ changes, but we do need to improve in every aspect that surrounds our program. Hitting, pitching, fielding, baserunning, culture, coaching, academics, socially, wellness, mentally…everything needs to improve 2%. Will we make it to Super Regionals and beyond next year if everything improves 2%? I don’t know, but if we don’t, it won’t be because we’ve thought we ‘arrived’ this year. 
 
“I hope the Virginia Tech softball stalwarts and the new fans we picked up enjoyed the brand of softball we put on the field this year,” D’Amour said. “We appreciate all of the support and hope to see everyone in the fall.”
 
EARLY SEASON
 
The Hokies started the season 3-0 after a sweep at Kennesaw State where pitchers Keely Rochard and Ivy Rosenberry both tossed complete game shutouts. Rochard went the distance in the series opener and finale while the freshman Rosenberry won her first career start via shutout.
 
Tech then traveled to Clemson for a three-game set in two days with the Tigers before heading to Atlanta for three games with eventual national runner-up Florida State. The Hokies battled back from losing the first game in both series to beat the Tigers and Seminoles two out of three in the same weekend. Rochard was named NFCA Division I Pitcher of the Week after shutting out the Seminoles in their series finale.
 




With a 7-2 record, the Hokies traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina for their first four-game ACC series of the season. After winning Game 1 and being shutout in Game 2, the Hokie bats came alive and run-ruled the Wolfpack in each of the last two games, 12-2 in six innings and 17-4 in five innings. Tech made history in the finale by hitting a program-record eight home runs, led by Kelsey Bennett’s record three homers in a single game.
 




The Hokies finally made its return to play at Tech Softball Park on March 17, almost two years since their last game in Blacksburg. Tech’s homecoming came with a doubleheader sweep of Radford with the Hokies ending both games after five innings. In Game 2, Grace Chavez hit a walk-off, solo home run onto Beamer Way to win 9-1, Tech’s first walk-off of the season.
 
When the Hokies welcomed Pitt to Blacksburg that weekend, Rochard was lights out. The junior recorded back-to-back, 19-strikeout shutouts to take the final two games of the series after the teams split the first two. Without a doubt, Rochard took home both NFCA and ACC Pitcher of the Week honors for her performance against the Panthers.
 
Tech concluded the first half of its season with a 7-0 shutout of Virginia in Blacksburg and another 3 out of 4 ACC series at Louisville. After 24 games, the Hokies stood 19-5 with a 13-5 conference record.
 
SECOND HALF
After taking the second half of the home-and-home with UVA 9-1 in Charlottesville, the Hokies turned their attention to No. 12/14 Duke. The Blue Devils were just the Hokies’ second ranked test of the year to this point after Tech passed its first, taking 2 out of 3 with then-No. 13/14 Florida State. Again, the Hokies won an ACC series taking 3 out of 4, with freshman Emma Ritter hitting a clutch, two-run homer in the eighth inning to win Game 3 and clinch the series victory.
 
The Hokies then began a 10-game homestand with a doubleheader sweep of Longwood and winning three games vs. Georgia Tech, capped by Rochard’s first no-hitter of the season in a 12-0 win where the offense hit five home runs.
 
After suffering a four-game sweep at the hands of Notre Dame and a midweek loss at Liberty, the Hokies bounced back with a four-game sweep of their own at Syracuse. Rochard was masterful, starting all four games, allowing just two runs on the weekend and throwing another no-hitter in the series opener. The right-hander won ACC Pitcher of the Week honors of the third time after the sweep of the Orange.
 
As if the Hokies’ first four-game sweep of the year needed any more significance, D’Amour earned his 100th win after the finale, becoming the fastest head coach in the program’s history to reach the milestone, doing so in just 127 contests.
 




At the conclusion of the regular season, Rochard was named the ACC Pitcher of the Year for the first time in her career. 
 
POSTSEASON
After finishing the regular season with a 32-12 record, 23-11 in the ACC, the Hokies entered the 2021 ACC Tournament as the four seed, matched up with the fifth-seeded Fighting Irish in the quarterfinals. Exorcising their demons from the season, the Hokies beat Notre Dame 5-2 but would go on to drop a 2-0 game to No. 1 Clemson in the semifinals.
 
On Selection Sunday, it was announced that the Hokies would be packing their bags for Tempe, Arizona for a regional with hosts and No. 15 national seed Arizona State, BYU and Southern Illinois, the second NCAA Regional appearance in as many full seasons for D’Amour. Tech made history in Tempe as the 2021 team became the first in the program’s history to sweep a regional at 3-0. The Hokies beat BYU 5-2, Arizona State 8-2 and BYU again 11-3 in five innings to advance to the program’s second ever NCAA Super Regional.
 
Sophomore Alexa Milius sent the Hokies to the supers with a walk-off home run over the Cougars in the regional final.
 




Staying out on the west coast for their super regional matchup with defending national champion UCLA, the Hokies picked up right where they left off in Tempe, taking Game 1 from the Bruins 7-2. To no one’s surprise, Rochard was lights out in the game, holding UCLA’s explosive lineup to just three hits. Bennett and freshman Cameron Fagan both had two RBIs, including a two-run triple from Bennett in the first inning. Tech put 11 hits up on the board versus the Pac-12 powerhouse in Game 1, but unfortunately this would be the last win of the season for the Hokies.
 
UCLA rallied in Games 2 and 3 to advance to the Women’s College World Series and end the Hokies’ memorable run to the final 16 teams remaining.
 
After the season concluded for the Hokies, it was announced that Rochard was named to the NFCA All-America first team, becoming Tech’s third NFCA All-American in program history. The Williamsburg, Virginia native also became just the second Hokie to be named to the first team.
 




The NFCA also announced that D’Amour and his staff had been awarded the Mid-Atlantic Region Coaching Staff of the Year for the second time in his tenure in Blacksburg.
 
THE FUTURE
The Hokies’ future on the softball field is bright thanks to D’Amour’s remarkable turnaround of the program, taking a sub-.500 team in 2018 to the Super Regionals in just two full seasons. Thanks to the NCAA extending all eligibility due to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on athletics, every Hokie starter has the opportunity to return for next season.
 
D’Amour and his staff also signed one of the best recruiting classes in program history. More info on the incoming Hokies can be found here.
 
AWARDS & HONORS
Keely Rochard

  • NFCA First-Team All-American
  • ACC Pitcher of the Year
  • ACC All-Tournament Team
  • First-Team All-ACC
  • USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, Top 25 Watchlist
  • Wilson/NFCA Division I Pitcher of the Week, twice (2/23 & 3/23)
  • ACC Pitcher of the Week, thrice (3/23, 3/30 & 5/4)

 
Cameron Fagan

  •  NFCA All-Mid Atlantic First Team
  • Second-Team All-ACC
  • ACC All-Freshman Team
  • Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I Freshman of the Year, Top 30 Watchlist

 
Jayme Bailey

  • NFCA All-Mid Atlantic First Team
  • Second-Team All-ACC

 
Kelsey Brown

  • NFCA All-Mid Atlantic First Team
  • Second-Team All-ACC

 
Kelsey Bennett

  • NFCA All-Mid Atlantic Second Team
  • Second-Team All-ACC

 
Coach D’Amour and staff

  • NFCA Mid-Atlantic Coaching Staff of the Year

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