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April 7, 2009

Olympic Sports Report - Taking a look at some of Tech's other athletics teams

By: Matt Kovatch


Steve Domecus ended the month of March on a 19-game hitting streak.

The Tech baseball team concluded the month of March by playing a pair of games at completely different ends of the spectrum. A March 29 loss at N.C. State – which was just six minutes shy of four hours in length – by a score of 19-18 may have been Tech’s ugliest game in recent memory, as the Hokies walked 13 batters, committed seven errors and allowed the most runs to an opponent since early 2007. Things weren’t much better for the Wolfpack either, as they committed four errors of their own, while allowing 19 hits and letting the Hokies come back from a 12-4 deficit.

Two days later, however, Tech played its cleanest and most efficient contest of the season by breezing past James Madison 4-0 in two hours and 20 minutes. Five pitchers (Clark Labitan, Rhett Ballard, Kyle Cichy, Brandon Fisher and Ben Rowen) combined to shut out the Dukes on just seven hits and one walk. The Tech defense chipped in by playing errorless ball and the Hokies recorded their first shutout since May 9, 2007, against VMI.

So where do the Hokies fall within that spectrum? At 16-10 overall and 3-8 in the ACC at the end of March, the safest answer is to say it’s somewhere in the middle. The 18 runs scored in that game were not a fluke, as it was the 13th time this season that Tech had scored in double digits. The Hokies have been hammering the ball all year, scoring over nine runs per game and batting .327 as a team.

But the one-walk, zero-error shutout was far from the norm for the Hokies. Through month’s end, Tech ranked near the bottom of the league in fielding percentage and earned run average.

The injury bug has bitten the Hokies as well, but if guys like left fielder/catcher Steve Domecus (.416 avg., 19-game hitting streak), catcher Anthony Sosnoskie (.344 avg., six homers) and infielder Ronnie Shaban (.370 avg, 10 doubles) continue to rake, Tech should continue to win its share of games.


The Tech softball team’s season got off to a rough start, but the Hokies won five games over the final week and a half of March to push their record to 13-17 overall and 3-3 in the ACC at month’s end.

The highlight came with a series win over rival Virginia on March 28-29, with Tech claiming the final two games of a three-game set thanks to big efforts by seniors Charisse Mariconda and Beth Walker.

Mariconda hit an important two-run home run in the first inning of the clinching 5-2 win in game three, and when you include a doubleheader split with Radford on March 24, she put together a week that boasted a .462 batting average, a .611 on-base percentage and a .769 slugging percentage. The third baseman drew five walks, drove in six runs and scored five times to earn Virginia Tech’s athlete of the week honors.

Walker, meanwhile, had her big performance in the game two win over the Cavaliers. The first baseman led the way at the plate with two hits (a double and a grand slam) and a career-high six runs driven in. The six RBIs mark a tie for the third-most for a single game in program history.

For the season to date, Mariconda is second on the team with a .413 batting average and three home runs. Two others – outfielder Jessica Everhart (.301, four homers) and designated player Jenna Rhodes (.446, 20 stolen bases) – have also posted solid offensive efforts to fuel the midseason surge.


The outdoor track and field season began on March 21, and with a strong performance during the campaign’s second weekend, senior thrower Brittany Pryor earned co-ACC women's track and field Performer of the Week honors on March 31.

Pryor became the first Hokie to regionally qualify for the outdoor postseason, tossing a distance of 184 feet, three inches to win the hammer throw at the Weems Baskins Relays in Columbia, S.C., on March 29. The Niagara Falls, N.Y., native outdistanced the runner-up finisher in the event by more than 20 feet, and surpassed the regional standard by more than six feet.


The Hokie golf team had three tournaments under its belt by the time March came to a close, and finished an impressive second in two of them.

Tech finished 15th at the Puerto Rico Classic on March 1 in a tournament that featured four of the top five teams in the country, and senior Drew Weaver tied for 10th individually after a 6-under-par 66 in the final round.

Weaver nearly won his first collegiate event on March 17 when he placed second at the Pinehurst Intercollegiate, three strokes behind the winner. As a team, the Hokies were just five strokes shy of champion Penn State.

The High Point, N.C., native once again paced the Tech squad to a runner-up finish at the Furman Intercollegiate on March 29, this time finishing in a tie for fifth to mark his third top-10 finish of the spring.


Conference play has not been kind to the women’s tennis team after it split its first two ACC matches. Since defeating Maryland on March 1 to begin the league slate 1-1, the Hokies have dropped five consecutive ACC contests to slip to 1-6 in the league and 10-8 overall by the end of March.

To be fair, all five of those losses came against top-25 opponents, including No. 5 Miami, No. 6 Georgia Tech, No. 13 Clemson, No. 18 Virginia and No. 25 Florida State. And to their credit, the Hokies have taken care of their three non-conference opponents during that time, defeating Winthrop and Tulane by identical scores of 6-1, and Richmond by a 5-2 margin.

Though the going has been tough against so many elite opponents, the Hokies’ No. 1 doubles team of Jessica Brouwer and Holly Johnson provided a huge highlight against Clemson on March 21 when they knocked off the nation’s eighth-ranked doubles team of Ani Mijacika and Keri Wong by a score of 8-5.