#32 Virginia Tech Softball 2014 Preview

Virginia Tech Hokies

Overall Rank: #32
Conference Rank: #3 ACC
#32 Virginia Tech Softball 2014 Preview
Virginia Tech Team Page


The Hokies came within one game of making the Super Regionals last season, a place they have not been since 2008 when they went to the College World Series. An up-and-down conference season may have made Virginia Tech not look as imposing coming into the tournament, but the team took Kentucky to a deciding game in the Regional and lost a heartbreaker to Kentucky to end the year, 1-0. The team did have quite an impressive non-conference season, beating ranked teams Arizona, Michigan and UCLA.  

2013: 38-21, 9-11
2013 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Scot Thomas

Field Players:
The Hokies return three of their top four hitters from a squad that drove in over 70 more runs than their opponents and had nearly 80 more total bases than their counterparts. Kylie McGoldrick returns after being the squad's top power hitter. She had 13 doubles, 11 home runs (tops on the team) and drove in 33 runs. Lauren Gaskill scored the most runs of any Hokie last year, crossing the plate 47 times, as well as finishing with eight long balls and 23 RBI. Her 56 hits were just two behind top hitter Courtney Liddle last season. Dani Anderson also returns after starting 58 of the 59 games she appeared in and hit .285. She knocked out 45 hits and drove in 23.

Virginia Tech was one of the lucky teams to have two starters last year. However, only one of those, Kelly Heinz, returns this season. Last season, Heinz had a 17-8 record in 41 games, including 23 starts. She also had a 2.68 ERA and 169 strikeouts, as well as three saves, all of which were team-highs. If the Hokes are looking to go to a two-pitcher rotation again, two more players, Maggie Tyler and Bailey Liddle, got experience last season. Tyler appeared in 21 games, starting six, while Liddle started two of the five games she pitched in.

Who to Watch:
In her freshman year and through two-thirds of the 2013 campaign, Bailey Liddle was a pitcher. She transitioned to first base the last third of the year. In 83 at-bats, Liddle knocked out 22 hits, including six doubles and a home run. She will be pushed at first base by freshman Elizabeth Birle, however. The freshman from Florida was a power hitter in high school, hitting .425 for her career with 43 home runs, 15 doubles, a triple, 72 runs and 127 RBIs. She also pitched, having compiled a 22-10 record in 113 innings with 201 strikeouts and a 1.97 ERA.

Final Projection:
Any time a team brings back numerous top hitters, a promising season can loom. Add in a pitcher who has considerable experience in the circle and you can see why the Hokies made this list. Liddle's development as a first baseman should be something to look forward to, as will the continued development of the rest of the team. Virginia Tech will be tested in non-conference play, as they play in the Easton Bama Bash hosted by Alabama. The Hokies will face Bama twice that weekend and faces South Alabama, Michigan State and Illinois in the Florida Atlantic Tournament two weeks later. Matchups with Florida Gulf Coast and James Madison are also on the schedule.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Lauren Gaskill, SS/OF, 187
Hits: Lauren Gaskill, SS/OF 56
Home Runs: Kylie McGoldrick, 2B, 11
RBIs: Kylie McGoldrick, 2B, 33
Runs: Lauren Gaskill, SS/OF, 47
Stolen Bases: Lauren Gaskill, SS/OF, 20

Wins: Kelly Heinz, P,17
Innings Pitched: Kelly Heinz, P, 156.2
Strikeouts: Kelly Heinz, P, 169
Saves: Kelly Heinz, P, 3


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