No. 3 Duke softball rides into UNC Greensboro, dismantles Spartans with 5-inning run-rule victory

Kelly Torres opened the scoring for Duke with a first-inning homer.
Kelly Torres opened the scoring for Duke with a first-inning homer.

Riding high off the wave of capturing their 250th program win against Clemson, the third-ranked Blue Devils traveled a short way down the road to face off against UNC Greensboro Wednesday evening. They charged into the Spartans’ home turf and didn’t look back, winning by a convincing margin of 16-3 in just five innings.

Duke (38-4, 16-2 in the ACC) struck first as it so often does, this time courtesy of the commanding offensive presence of senior Kelly Torres. She foreshadowed the efficiency the Blue Devils would display at the plate for the rest of the game by scoring a home run out of left field on the opening pitch. UNC Greensboro (25-20) came back with an answer when their time at bat came, however, getting two runs out of the first inning and taking an early lead on the Blue Devils. 

Their lead would prove to be short-lived, though, as Duke lit the offensive flame that few opponents this season have been able to douse.

Salem Ward, UNC Greensboro’s starting pitcher, walked three Duke batters in a row, and behind the bats of graduate student Gisele Tapia and junior Ana Gold, the Blue Devils turned those three walks into three runs to quickly reclaim the lead. In an attempt to halt Duke’s growing offensive momentum, the Spartans switched pitchers. But the effort came far too late. Even with a new arm to contend with, the Blue Devils had no trouble scoring six more runs, led by a Francesa Frelick double, to put them at 10 runs in the second inning alone. 

“We started off the inning strong,” said head coach Marissa Young of her team’s impressive second inning. “We were really patient and took our walks.”

Despite already holding the 11-1 lead, Duke did not stop there. The team scored three more runs in the third inning and another two in the fifth to collect its 14th run-rule victory of the year. For the Blue Devils, this contest was a showcase of a team firing on all cylinders; their overall hitting average for the game was .500, nearly double the Spartans’ average of .263. 

Aside from the offensive excellence Duke showcased, Wednesday night’s contest was a story of the newcomers for the Blue Devils. Sophomore Sophie Garner-MacKinnon took to the mound for the first time since Duke’s win against UNC Wilmington in March. In her return to the pitching circle, the West Hartford, Conn., native pitched an impressive game, only allowing five hits and three runs in the victory.

On the offensive side for Duke, freshman Amiah Burgess showed off her budding strength, scoring a season-high three runs for the Blue Devils, including a home run in the fifth inning that sealed the run-rule victory.  

While Burgess’s three runs led the offensive charge for Duke, her teammates were not far behind her. Five other Blue Devils ended the evening with more than two runs as Duke cruised to its fifth double-digit win of the season. 

The Blue Devils now look forward to hosting Virginia back on their home turf in a three-game series starting Friday night. 


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