Cavalier Corner

April 2021

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22 CAVALIER CORNER BY MELISSA DUDEK T hird-year Aly Rayle had a short learning curve when she joined the Virginia softball team, be- coming the staff ace her rookie season. "My nickname is Bambi," Rayle said, laughing. "I would say there were deer-in- headlights moments for that whole first year, but espe- cially those first few weeks when I was getting used to playing at the collegiate level. I was learning so much so quickly. It was a great experience. I grew a lot from just being thrown in there. "There were situations where I was just excited to get my chance. A lot of times, those chances came in really high-pressure situations with runners on base late in close games. Those experiences were so valuable because I had to learn to keep my composure very quickly, set the pressure aside and throw how I know how to throw." In 2020, she found her groove, leading the Cavaliers with a 2.91 ERA — the lowest individual mark for a UVA pitcher since Melanie Mitchell in 2013 — while holding opponents to a .188 batting average. It wasn't just in Charlottesville that people were taking notice. She finished the shortened season ranked second in the ACC and among the top 50 nationally with 9.0 strikeouts per seven innings, and in the top 100 in three other pitching categories. Her success as a pitcher didn't happen overnight and it wasn't something that she did by herself. There have been many people and other creatures who have helped her along the way. Rayle started playing softball when she was 5 years old in a "house league" with her father, Jon, as her coach. "I loved playing softball from the beginning because I was doing it with my sister and my dad," she recalled. "It was just something that brought our family together on the weekends Rayle made 14 appearances and eight starts in last year's pandemic- shortened season, and posted a 2.91 ERA — the lowest mark for a Cavalier since 2013. PHOTO BY MATT RILEY/COURTESY UVA ATHLETICS ACE IN THE HOLE Aly Rayle Is Ready To Dominate In Her Third Season As UVA's No. 1 Pitcher

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