No. 3 Duke softball splits opening 2 games of Louisville series, wins third behind Vega's milestone day at the plate

Duke traveled down to Louisville, Ky., Friday for a three-game ACC series against the Cardinals. It entered the weekend confident, only a week after ending its 21-game winning streak. But after a tough one-run performance Saturday, the third-ranked Blue Devils reignited offensively for a 5-3 win against the Cardinals Sunday afternoon, winning the series. 

The Blue Devils (26-3, 7-2 in the ACC) entered the series on a roll, winning the first game on the road, but dropped the second game after a tough stretch of untimely hitting, batting .143 with runners on — and losing 2-1. In the series closer, Duke bounced back, taking advantage of some poor Louisville (20-12, 1-5) fielding on top of its own strong offense.

It put three runs on the board early in the second thanks to a Jada Baker double — driving in Kelly Torres and Amiah Burgess — and Francesca Frelick scoring on a throwing error. After adding on to their run in the first, the Blue Devils tacked on an insurance run in the fifth to seal the deal and cruise with relative ease to victory. 

The visitors looked prepared for the challenge Sunday afternoon and were eager to avenge their loss from the night before. Sophomores Aminah Vega and Baker had particularly successful days at the plate, each racking up two hits, as well as two RBIs on the day. Vega went 2-for-4 on the day, and did so with power, blasting a home run for extra insurance late in the fifth. The home run also marked a memorable milestone as Vega had reached career hit 100 with the long ball, capping a dominant year thus far for the sophomore infielder. Baker, a native of Longwood, Fla., also knocked in two runs off of her double to right field in the second inning, and followed that up with a single in the sixth. 

Duke still struggled to string together hits at times in the third game of the series — batting .167 with runners on base — but was able to advance players into scoring position and take advantage, batting .333 with runners on second or third. Louisville also aided the Blue Devils’  efforts with three costly errors, one of which directly translated into a Duke run.

Senior pitcher Jala Wright put together yet another dominant performance, adding up seven strikeouts in four innings of work. Combined with her stellar performance in the first game of the series, Wright put up 16 strikeouts across 9.2 innings, securing one win for herself and her squad. Duke’s pitching staff was elite this weekend, with its starting rotation only allowing three runs over the three-game series. Sophomore southpaw Cassidy Curd did her best to silence Louisville Saturday, racking up a season-high 10 strikeouts in the effort.

The Blue Devils also did their best to be disruptive on the basepath and generate scoring opportunities for themselves early on. D’Auna Jennings started the game off by stealing second base in the first inning, adding to a total of nine stolen bases on 11 attempts this season. Frelick also generated some offense with her feet by forcing a rushed throw home by the Cardinals’ center fielder, earning the Blue Devils another run. 

The squad from Durham has been no stranger to aggressive and confident baserunning so far this season, using its speed to help it steal runs from its opponents and tack on insurance runs. With 35 stolen bases to their opponents 12, the Blue Devils have been extremely effective at creating opportunities on the basepath while limiting those of their opponents. 

The Blue Devils look to continue their success and dominant play at home — where they have yet to lose this year — as they welcome Virginia Tech in a three-game series beginning Thursday. The Hokies are the current leaders in the ACC standings and also have yet to lose a conference game.


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