Softball: Hoos take double dip, series at No. 3 Duke to clinch spot in ACC Tournament

Courtesy UVA Media Relations

Photo: UVA Athletics

Virginia swept a doubleheader at No. 3 Duke with a pair of one-run wins on Saturday to claim the weekend series over the Blue Devils and lock up a berth in the ACC Softball Championships.

It capped an exciting 24 hours for the Hoos (30-15, 13-8 ACC), who played three complete games in that span and covered 25.1 innings of softball. Virginia and Duke (39-6, 17-4) played a 12-inning game on Friday night that started at 6 p.m. before capping the series with the Saturday doubleheader that ended at 5:35 p.m.

Duke opened the scoring in the third inning as Kelly Torres tripled to right with one out and came home on a sac fly to short that was caught in shallow left field.

Virginia took the lead in the fourth with a grand slam hammered to left from Jade Hylton. The Cavaliers loaded the bases with a leadoff single up the middle from Kelly Ayer and consecutive bunt singles from Sarah Coon and Kelsey Hackett. Virginia grounded into a pair of fielder’s choice outs before Hylton took the 2-2 pitch deep to put the Hoos on top.

Duke responded in the bottom of the fifth, taking advantage of a pair of errors to put two in scoring position. A fielding error on a bunt put the first runner on and a throwing error after a diving stop on a ground ball to second allowed both runners to move up an extra base. The first run came home on a sac fly to left from Kelly Torres before a passed ball moved the trail runner to third. She then came home on a sac fly to left as Duke cut the lead to 4-3.

The seventh inning saw the Blue Devils get a runner with a leadoff single and the Hoos brought in Eden Bigham from the bullpen. A groundout to short moved the tying run to second before a hit batter and a single up the middle loaded the bases with Blue Devils with one out. Bigham then got a ground ball to third where Sarah Coon made the force play and threw home for the tag as the double play clinched the win.

Courtney Layne (3-1) picked up the win, allowing three runs – one of them earned – on four hits and a walk in 4.0 innings of work. Bigham picked up her third save of the season as she worked the final three outs. Madison Harris held things in check with 2.0 innings of work to bridge from Layne to Bigham.

Sophie Walker (3-1) took the loss, allowing three runs on four hits with two walks in 3.0 innings of work. She left the game with the bases loaded and no outs in the fourth inning.

Virginia got things started with a two-run home run from Jade Hylton in the third inning. Kelsey Hackett scored on the play after leading the inning off with a single to center.

The Hoos extended the lead in the fourth with a two-out single up the middle from Hackett that drove in Kailyn Jones from second. Jones entered to run at second for Macee Eaton who was hit by a pitch to open the inning and moved into scoring position on a single from Kelly Ayer.

Duke got on the board in the sixth with an RBI triple to center from Aminah Vega that scored Kelly Torres from second. Torres reached on a single through the left side and took second on a groundout to second. Vega then came home with a two-out single up the middle from Gisele Tapia to cut the lead to 3-2 heading to the seventh.

The Virginia pitching staff held things in check in the final frame to lock up the doubleheader sweep and series win over the Blue Devils.

Mikayla Houge (2-3) picked up the win, working 5.2 innings and with two runs allowed on six hits with one strikeout. Madi Harris picked up the save, her second of the season and set the program record for saves in a career.


  • Madi Harris set the program record for saves with her 10th career save to lock up game two of the day.
  • The Hylton grand slam in the game one was her first grand slam of the season and she now has 11 home runs on the year after hitting a home run in each game.
  • Eden Bigham picked up her third save of the season as she worked the final three outs of game one.
  • The win over No. 3 Duke is the second-highest ranked win in program history. Virginia’s highest ranked wins were victories over No. 2 FSU (4/17/2004), No. 2 Arizona (3/21/2020) and No. 2 Virginia Tech (4/15/2022).
  • It’s the first series win over Duke in program history as the Hoos are now 3-10 against Duke all-time.
  • Virginia has now gone to the rubber match in all seven ACC series and won six of those series-deciding games.
  • It marks the first time in program history that Virginia has won six ACC series in a season.


“That was gritty, tough and competitive. We played exceptional defense. Our pitching staff was phenomenal. Jade Hylton came up twice with the big fly and Kelsey Hackett delivering the RBI single to score Kailyn Jones in the fourth was huge. It was a full team effort today. I’m proud of them playing three games in against an extremely competitive team in less than 24 hours and not once did they falter or back down. I am overwhelmed with pride and gratefulness that I get to coach these players and be a part of their team and what they’re doing.”


Virginia continues road play with a non-conference game at No. 15 Virginia Tech on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The game will count as half a point in the Smithfield Commonwealth Clash.