The NC State softball team begins its fall season this weekend with games against Louisburg and Longwood, and the Wolfpack has a lot of new faces testing the waters.
In head coach Jennifer Patrick-Swift’s second year at the helm, NC State has four incoming transfers and a recruiting class that will see seven new freshmen take the field for the first time.
Junior outfielder Carson Shaner arrives in Raleigh by way of UNC-Wilmington where she hit .307 with six home runs last season. Senior outfielder Tatyana Forbes played at FIU last year after two seasons at Coastal Carolina, and she batted .315 while stealing 11 bases in 2019.
Junior catcher Samantha Sack transferred over from Coastal Carolina and will likely use the fall season to get more familiar with the Pack pitching staff. Sack threw out 16 of 27 potential base stealers in 2019 and allowed only one passed ball in 44 games. Senior right-handed pitcher Abby Trahan comes from Southern Mississippi after a 2019 season that saw her lead the Conference USA in ERA with a 1.89 clip.
The freshman class hails from all over the United States and will provide some much-needed depth for a Wolfpack squad that only had 16 players see action last season.
Outfielder Kelsey O’Connor and utility player Brianna Nykaza both come from Illinois, where Nykaza was a two-time all-state selection. Right-handed pitcher/infielder Sam Gress and infielder Libby Whittaker come from Pennsylvania. Gress hit .382 her first three seasons in high school and led Central Dauphin High School to a district championship in 2018 after throwing three straight shutouts on the mound. Whittaker was second-team all-state in 2017 and 2018 while at Mifflinburg Area High School.
Infielder Bailee Bryant was first-team all-conference all four years at Holden High School in Missouri, and outfielder Keisha White was a two-time all-state selection and even appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 plays with the No. 1 play in 2016 when she robbed a home run.
Lastly, utility player Grace Johnson is the one local freshman, coming from Northwest Guilford High School in High Point, N.C. Johnson was all-conference three years in a row from 2017-2019 and was the 4A District 5 Player of the Year in 2018.
NC State will play seven games during its fall season, six of which will be at home at Dail Softball Stadium. After the weekend’s games, the Wolfpack will play Elon on the road then remain home for games against UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina Central, East Carolina and Wingate.
Patrick-Swift used the fall season last year to implement her “home run mindset” that saw the Pack go from 36 home runs in 2018 to 63 home runs in 2019, and will likely work to use the fall season as a springboard for another leap in home runs in the 2020 spring season.