SB: NC State Sweeps Doubleheader Against No. 25 USC Upstate
Posted March 6
The NC State softball team extended its win streak to nine, after winning both games of a doubleheader against No. 25 USC Upstate Wednesday evening at Dail Stadium. The Wolfpack won the first game, 1-0, before defeating the Spartans in the second game, 5-3.
“I’m glad to get two wins,” said head coach Shawn Rychcik. “They’re a very good opponent and they’re playing really well right now. In the first game, both teams’ aces were having good games and it shaped up as a pitcher’s duel. We got that one run and that was enough.”
NC State (10-6) handed USC Upstate (19-2) its first two losses of the season, as the Spartans entered the contest with a perfect 19-0 record and No. 25 ranking in both the NFCA/USA Today and ESPN.Com/USA Softball polls.
A pitchers’ duel ensued in the first game as both starting pitchers threw complete games and kept the opposing team’s lineup off balance. NC State’s Emily Weiman won the battle to run her record in the circle to 9-5 on the season. The junior collected five strikeouts in the contest, while only allowing two walks.
USC Upstate threatened to score in the top of the fourth inning, after Shellie Robinson singled to lead off the inning and advanced to second on an error. A groundout to the pitcher moved her over to third base with one out.
Weiman buckled down to get the next batter to hit a dribbler back to her in the circle and she looked the runner on third back and fired to first base for the second out of the frame. She struck out the following hitter looking to end the inning and keep the contest scoreless.
The Wolfpack made the most of its opportunity in the bottom of the fifth when senior Kirsty Grant walked and stole second to get into scoring position. Junior Renada Davis lined an RBI-single down the left field line scoring Grant to plate the only run of the game.
In the top of the seventh, Upstate’s Cheyenne Griffin singled to lead off the inning, but she was erased on the next play after sophomore Lana Van Dyken hustled in to field a sacrifice bunt attempt and flipped it to second to get the lead runner. After a runner reached third with two outs, Weiman struck out the following hitter swinging to end the game.
Davis, Grant, Leah Jones, Chelsea Tate and Van Dyken each had one hit in the contest. Grant also had two stolen bases in the game.
In the second game, freshman Molly Hutchison stole the show by hitting two home runs and collecting four RBI. She hit a three-run blast in the first inning and a solo homer in the third inning to homer in consecutive plate appearances.
“We jumped out on them early in the second game with three runs in the first inning,” Rychcik added. “Overall, two wins against a ranked opponent is really good.”
Davis walked to start the bottom of the first and Van Dyken looked to drop down a sacrifice bunt, but the throw from the pitcher skipped away from the first baseman for a throwing error. Davis advanced to third and Van Dyken moved over to third base, before Hutchison’s first round-tripper of the game.
Sophomore Hanna Sommer followed with a walk and that ended the day for Upstate pitcher Anna Miller, who did not record an out and allowed three runs. Freshman Lexi Shubert came in to relieve her and pitched six innings.
Freshman Courtney Mirabella started the second game and pitched the first five innings, before Weiman came in to relieve her. Mirabella (1-1) picked up her first win in the circle with five strikeouts and both of the runs she gave up were unearned. Weiman was credited with the save after tossing the final two innings, her first since March 27, 2013 in the second game of a doubleheader with East Carolina.
“I’m real happy with the way Courtney [Mirabella] pitched in the second game,” said Rychcik. “I’m a little disappointed that we gave up a couple unearned runs while she was in, but I thought she threw real well.”
The two Wolfpack pitchers only allowed three hits in the contest. Grant and Jones collected the other two hits for NC State in the second game.
NC State will return to action on Saturday, March 8 when it resumes Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play against Pittsburgh. The doubleheader on Saturday is set for noon, with the final game of the series on Sunday at noon.