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SB: NC State wins pair, will play Tennessee for tourney title

Posted February 17, 2013

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— For the second consecutive weekend, the NC State softball team will play for a tournament championship after winning a pair of games on Saturday in the USF 4-Team Tournament.

The Wolfpack (6-3) beat No. 12 ranked and host South Florida 2-1 on Saturday night, thanks to an outstanding pitching effort by sophomore right-hander Emily Weiman, who struck out nine batters on the night to pick up her second win of the day.

“Emily was just outstanding,” said first-year coach Shawn Rychcik. “She had great control throughout the day and she made some tough pitches when we needed them. She's been a workhorse for us, pitching four games in two days.

“She keeps getting stronger and smarter in the way she pitches. I can’t say enough about her effort in the two games [Saturday].”

Earlier in the day, the Pack defeated Coastal Carolina 4-2 to earn the No. 3 seed in the semifinals and set up a meeting with the Bulls, a team that advanced to the College World Series last season.
Weiman (6-2) also picked up the victory in that game, thanks to a two-run shot by freshman designated hitter Hanna Sommer in the top of the seventh inning.

“Our offense is starting to get going, even though we only scored two runs in the last game,” Rychcik said. “We are putting the ball in play and having some quality at-bats. That’s putting pressure on the defense to make plays.”

Sommer also got the Wolfpack’s offense going in the night game, after catcher Kirsty Grant was hit in the back in the top of the first. Sommer hit a long line drive off the wall in right centerfield, scoring Grant from first base to give the Pack a 1-0 lead.

The Pack put two more runners on base in the top of the second and chased USF starting pitcher Erica Nunn. Lindsey Richardson came in and struck out the first two batters she faced to end the Wolfpack threat.

The Bulls threatened in the third, as D’Anna Devine led off with a double to the right-centerfield wall. She moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, but Weiman pitched out of the jam, getting a pair of grounders to end the inning.

The Pack added an unearned run in the fifth, when Grant singled to left field and advanced to second on an error by USF’s shortstop. Junior first baseman Leah Jones advanced Grant to third on fielder’s choice and junior Scout Albertson followed with a sharply hit grounder to short, who throw at first was high for her second error of the inning. That allowed Grant to score for the Pack’s second run of the game.

Both teams threatened throughout the game, but had difficulty putting runs across the plate. The Wolfpack left 13 runners on base in the contest, while the Bulls left nine.

The Bulls also threatened in the bottom of the fifth, putting runners on first and second with no outs on an error and a soft single over third base. Weiman struck out a batter and Jones fielded a one-hopper at first base that advanced the runners. Weiman walked the Bulls’ cleanup hitter, Lee Ann Spivey, to load the bases and pushed Kenshyra Jackson to a 3-2 count.

On the final pitch of the inning, Jackson hit a shot back to the circle that Weiman fielded and threw to first to end the bases-loaded threat without allowing a run.

South Florida scored its only run of the game in the bottom of the sixth, when Jackson walked, Morgan Litchfield singled and Jackson scored when shortstop Renada Davis opted to get a sure out on a grounder instead of trying to make a play at the plate.

Weiman struck out two of her nine victims to preserve the lead in the sixth, and two more to finish off the victory in the seventh. The win avenged the Wolfpack's 1-0 loss in eight innings to the Bulls on Friday evening.

The Pack will face a Tennessee team that beat State 7-0 in the first game of the tournament on Friday. The Volunteers (8-0) have not lost this season, winning three games this weekend by a combined 28-3.

Last weekend, Rychcik and the Wolfpack beat Kansas in the championship game of the season-opening FIU Panther Invitational in Miami, after losing to the Jayhawks on the tournament’s opening day.

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