Syracuse softball sweeps Virginia, outscoring the Cavaliers 24-9
Syracuse softball sweeps Virginia, outscoring them 24-9
The Syracuse Orange (23-22-1; 7-12-1 ACC) swept the Virginia Cavaliers (29-21; 8-16 ACC) in three games this past weekend at Skytop Softball Stadium to extend its winning streak to eight games.
“It feels amazing,” Orange coach Shannon Doepking said. “It’s just nice to see it kinda come together. We have gone through some down times this year and had some games slip away from us, it is nice to start to figure some things out.”
The series got underway with a Friday doubleheader. In the first game, Coach Doepking went to junior pitcher Lindsey Hendrix, who pitched four innings of three-run ball before giving way to freshman Madison Knight who pitched three innings, allowing no runs as the Orange won 8-3.
“The plan was to win ball games in any way we need to do…we were willing to do that,” Coach Doepking said. “We know the position we are in.”
Knight started the second game of the doubleheader, pitching a complete game shutout to go along with a 2-for-3 day at the plate. She recorded two RBIs and a home run to break the original deadlock on her birthday as the Orange won 4-0.
“It makes me feel great, coming out of my slump that I was in, in the middle of the season and having a multi-hit game is huge for my confidence and just performance in general,” Knight said. “Just coming out and being able to perform on both sides of the ball is huge.”
It was also a strong doubleheader for junior outfielder Angel Jasso who went 4-for-7 with three runs scored and two RBIs. On the base paths she was back to herself from last year as she was able to swipe three bags across the two contests.
“It’s been a struggle mentally big time, so today I thought what I said earlier to the whole team like this is the first game of the season, so it was a reset button for me and just balled out with my team,” Jasso said.
After some rain overnight, the Orange were able to get the third game of their three-game series underway Saturday afternoon. Syracuse picked up where they left off as in the bottom of the first inning catcher Laila Alves went yard on the 16th pitch of her at-bat for a go-ahead grand slam.
“I think it set the tone,” Coach Doepking said about Alves’ grand slam. “I think it is a blow to the gut real quickly when you give up a grand slam in the first inning. And I think for Laila just to continue to compete when you throw that many pitches, at some point you are going to miss one over the middle of the plate.”
The Cavaliers weren’t going to give up without a fight as they scored three runs in the top of the second, but the Orange also weren’t going fold, scoring three of its own in the bottom of the second. This was the pattern of the game as the Cavaliers would start to come back, the Orange would just tack on to its lead. Syracuse came out on-top 12-6.
“It is just gritty like I think we responded every time they (Virginia) responded. They put up a run, we would put up some runs, so I think the cushion that our offense gave to our pitchers, I mean let’s just keep it real, our pitchers have been really, really good for us when our offense has not,” Coach Doepking said. “Today was a great opportunity for the offense to do the complete opposite.”
Saturday was also a very special day for the Orange program as it retired the first softball jersey in school history–Jenna Caira‘s No. 29 jersey. The Canada native is the program leader in career earned run average, wins, complete games, innings pitched and strikeouts.
“Representation is huge and I think them [Syracuse softball team] having the opportunity to meet her and get to see what she is all about and obviously she is a fierce competitor, but she is an even more amazing human being and that is exactly what we are trying to get to in this program,” Coach Doepking said.
Caira was a member of the Orange from 2009-12 and was a part of four straight seasons with 30 or more wins in eluding the best season in program history in 2011, when the Orange went 45-13. Caira became the Syracuse’s second All-American the following season in 2012.
“It is a surreal moment and could not have gone better, we won, we swept. For Syracuse softball and having my family here and our alumni, it means the world to me to be able to celebrate together because ultimately that’s what it is all about,” Caira said. “I am just over the moon and just so honored to have this recognition.”
Caira didn’t just have a successful career with SU as she cracked the Canadian national setup in 2009, and has been part of some of Canadian softball’s biggest triumphs including Canada’s only Olympic medal in softball: a bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. She was also a part of the team that won gold at the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games, Canada’s first gold since 1983 and in Caira’s hometown.
“That [winning gold] was an amazing experience …so to be able to have my family there, my friends, my grandmother being able to watch, it was very special to be able to share a part of my life that has been so important,” Caira said.
Next up for Syracuse softball is a midweek doubleheader at Skytop Softball Stadium against the Colgate Raiders with the first pitch set for 2 p.m. Wednesday.