By: Joey Raymond
All Photo Credit: Katie Lovell-LMS Network
Coming into this season off of a disappointing finish to last year, the Virginia Tech softball team has extremely loft expectations for how this one should play out. Hokies Softball head coach Pete D’Amour is aiming for an ACC championship and a Women’s College World Series appearance. That’s a great thought, but it’s one thing to say it, and another to do it. This season the Hokies come into this year ranked 23rd overall and have a legitimate shot to accomplish those goals. Last season, they finished 39-20 and advanced to the Athens Regional. In the two seasons before, they came within a win of the College World Series in Oklahoma City, falling in the Super Regional round to UCLA (2021) and Florida (2022), respectively.
Most would agree that what ailed the Hokies last season was an extreme lack of pitching depth. Truly the Hokies only had one consistent pitcher they could rely on last year, Emma Lemley. She threw 212.2 innings in 2023, more than any other pitcher on the staff, something that had to take a toll on her. The Hokies have brought in several new faces to help this team though, hopefully adding some extra depth, specifically to the pitching staff. The Hokies now have six pitchers on staff: Lemley, Grein, Jacobson, Grizzard, freshman Emma Mazzarone, and freshman Haley McManus. For the first time in D’Amour’s tenure, they’ll be able to mix and match arms, which will keep opponents off-balance.
On the other side of things, the Hokies have a great core already in place. With players like outfielder Emma Ritter, infielders Cameron Fagan, Addy Greene, Maija Louko, and Teagan Thrunk, utility players Bre Peck and Rachel Castine, plus catcher Kylie Aldridge. They’ll look to keep up their insane offensive output from last year where they managed to hit 100 home runs last season, hitting for a team total of .300 average, and 328 RBIs. In short, this team can flat-out hit. Despite all the new faces, coach D’Amour insists his team’s culture and offensive mindset haven’t changed. It’ll be interesting to see how this team fares this season with all of the expectations and hype around the squad.