Sam Russ Hits

Sophomore outfielder Sam Russ hits the ball on Sunday, April 7, 2019 at Dail Softball Stadium. Russ had two hits as the Wolfpack lost to Syracuse 5-3.

The NC State softball team will take on Louisville this weekend in a three-game series at Dail Softball Stadium.

Entering its final ACC series of the season, the Wolfpack (26-26, 6-15 ACC) was just swept by Virginia in an extremely disappointing series last weekend, while the Cardinals (33-17, 12-9 ACC) are fresh off a 2-1 series loss to UNC-Chapel Hill but had won 10 of 12 games prior to that, including a 2-1 series win over then-No. 3 Florida State.

Likely taking the mound for NC State will be junior right-hander Devin Wallace and freshman righty Sydney Nester. Wallace has had a horrendous showing in conference play, racking up a 6.49 ERA and has allowed opposing hitters to bat .304 against her. Nester has been only incrementally better during ACC play, pitching to the tune of a 5.66 ERA while surrendering 11 home runs in 15 appearances.

Sophomore left fielder Sam Russ has been a star for the Wolfpack during ACC play, hitting .333 with a .468 on-base percentage and nine stolen bases. Freshman shortstop April Visser has also been electric as of late, batting .382 with six home runs over her last 11 games.

Junior right fielder Brigette Nordberg is always a force to be reckoned with at the plate, but the slugger has struggled during conference games. Nordberg is hitting .311 with 16 home runs and a .682 slugging percentage overall, but during ACC play those numbers have dropped to .246 with four home runs and a .475 slugging percentage. If Nordberg regains her form, the Wolfpack’s lineup will be potent.

NC State will likely face right-handers Danielle Watson and Megan Hensley this weekend. Watson leads the team in innings pitched with 136 on the season and has held opposing hitters to a minute .215 batting average. Hensley has thrown 98.1 innings and pitched to the tune of a 2.85 ERA.

If the Wolfpack is able to knock Watson or Hensley out of a game, it will likely run into the Cardinals’ top reliever, righty Taylor Roby who also flaunts an excellent 2.76 ERA. Runs will almost surely be at a premium for the Pack this weekend.

Hensley also leads a dangerous Louisville offense that has five starters hitting at least .300. The dual-threat star is batting .336 and leads the team with 10 home runs. In order of batting average, she is sandwiched in between Sidney Melton and Celene Funke, two electric athletes who are hitting .347 with 28 stolen bases and .326 with 24 stolen bases, respectively.

Unlike the Wolfpack, Louisville likes to be aggressive on the basepaths. The Cardinals have stolen 93 bases in 107 attempts, and Melton, Funke and Charley Butler have all stolen double-digit bases. NC State, meanwhile, is just 53 for 63 in stolen base attempts and only Russ (27 for 28) has attempted at least 10 steals.

The Wolfpack and Cardinals will meet at 6 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. on Sunday for their three-game set at Dail Softball Stadium.