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Virginia, Florida State softball battle this weekend for sole lead in the ACC

Heading into the Judi Garmen Classic this past week, the Virginia softball team was 16-5 and enjoying their best season in quite some time. The Hoos, though, dropped four straight in California (the fifth game was rained out).

Still, there's a lot to be excited about with this Cavalier squad this season. For one, the Cavaliers are tied with FSU for first in the conference, after sweeping the 2011 regular season ACC champions Georgia Tech. It was the first time Georgia Tech had been swept in conference play in 2008, and the first time the Hoos have done so since 2001. The Jackets were preseason favorites in the conference.

For her performance that week, Virginia junior Melanie Mitchell earned ACC Pitcher of the Week honors. Through games as of March 18, 2012, Mitchell allows only 0.79 walks per seven innings, a conference-best and sixth best in the country. Mitchell is third in the ACC with an ERA of 1.79, behind two Florida State pitchers. FSU's Monica Perry averages 0.76 earned runs per game, good for ninth in the country.

Virginia faces nationally ranked Florida State this weekend. FSU's pitching staff is ranked fifth in the country with an earned run average of just 0.97. Virginia is third in the conference at 2.51.

Offensively, Virginia is one of the most prolific squads in the ACC, scoring a conference-best average of 5.2 runs a game. Virginia also steals an average of 2.32 bases per game, good for ninth in the country.

The Hoos received votes in last week's media poll and could make a great recovery statement this weekend in Charlottesville when they host the ‘Noles. FSU has a commanding 62-15 lead in the all-time series record between the two teams. First pitch is scheduled for noon on Saturday, March 24.