ATHENS, Ga. — The Virginia Tech softball team did not belt a home run Friday.
It did not matter.
The 24th-ranked Hokies got only one extra-base hit Friday but still picked up a decisive 6-1 win over 25th-ranked Boston University in the opener of an NCAA tournament regional at the University of Georgia.
Virginia Tech (38-18) began the day as the NCAA Division I leader in homers with 97. But the Hokies showed Friday they don’t need the long ball to win.
The Hokies banged out 13 hits, including two bunt singles, and stole two bases. They also had a sacrifice bunt.
“It’s important to be able to scratch runs across any way you can,” Tech coach Pete D’Amour said. “Jayme [Bailey] hit two balls that on a normal day are out. [Kelsey] Bennett hit one to the fence. So it’s not like we were lacking for power; they just didn’t go out. So when those aren’t happening, you’ve got to manufacture runs. And that’s what they did.”
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Emma Ritter had three singles and two RBIs for Tech. She also stole a base.
“Being able to rely on singles is a good thing,” Ritter said. “But … we still have hitters that on a normal field would be hitting tanks.
“Our team has a lot of diversity.”
BU coach Ashley Waters said her Terriers (51-9) looked “pretty outmatched.”
The game had been expected to offer a contrast in offensive styles. BU has hit just 20 homers but has hurt foes with bunts, doubles, triples and stolen bases.
“[The Hokies] started to shorten up their swings and just do what they needed to do,” Waters said. “Great hitting teams are going to find a way. I felt like they kind of generated short-game offense and base-hit singles and bloop singles. … They kind of beat us with our own game.”
The Hokies will play No. 14 overall seed Georgia (40-13), a 12-0, five-inning winner over North Carolina Central, in the winners’ bracket final at 1 p.m. Saturday for a berth in Sunday’s finals.
BU will play N.C. Central (19-34) in an elimination game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. If Tech loses to Georgia, it will play in the losers’ bracket final at 6 p.m. Saturday for the other berth in the finals.
The 14th-ranked Bulldogs are the top seed in this four-team regional, with Tech the second seed and BU the third seed.
Even though this is a double-elimination regional, the Hokies knew it was important to win their first game.
“I don’t remember ever losing a first game and winning a regional,” D’Amour said. “You have to win the first game.”
The Patriot League champion Terriers entered the game ranked eighth nationally with a .328 batting average but mustered just four hits.
Tech ace Emma Lemley (21-10) pitched the first five innings, allowing one hit, no runs and no walks while striking out five. The Jefferson Forest graduate did not allow a base runner until Lauren Nett hit a bloop single with one out in the fifth.
“[Lemley] throws balls and she has really tight spin. So what do you do? You start to leave your [strike] zone a little bit. And when you leave your zone, she doesn’t have to throw strikes,” Waters said. “She did her job really well. We just have to be a little more disciplined.”
Lemley said she threw a lot of riseballs.
“Being able to move it up and down and have a good amount of control today was working really well for me,” she said.
With Tech up 6-0 after five innings, D’Amour gave Lemley the rest of the day off to save her arm for the rest of the regional. Lemley threw only 68 pitches.
“When six runs happened, that was kind of my number [to pull Lemley],” D’Amour said.
Tech reliever Molly Jacobson allowed one run (unearned), three hits and two walks in the final two innings.
Eight Hokies got at least one hit. Kelsey Brown had three hits and one RBI.
The Hokies scored three runs off BU starter Allison Boaz (24-5) in the third inning.
Brown had an infield single, stole second and scored on Cameron Fagan’s RBI single to center.
After Addy Greene had a bunt hit, Bailey singled to right. But Bailey took too wide a turn and was tagged out as she scrambled back to first base. Ritter hit a two-RBI single to right. Boaz was then pulled for reliever Lizzy Avery.
Tech added a run in the fourth. Kylie Aldridge singled to center, advanced on Brown’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Greene’s RBI single to center.
The Hokies extended the lead to 6-0 in the fifth. Ritter singled to center, stole second and scored on Rachel Castine’s RBI single to center.