The NC State softball team lost to Virginia 8-5 Saturday afternoon at Dail Softball Stadium, dropping its second game in a row and losing the weekend series.
In an important ACC game, the Wolfpack (26-25, 6-14 ACC) once again made too many unforced mistakes against an opportunistic Cavaliers (19-30, 7-16 ACC) lineup.
Junior right-hander Devin Wallace and freshman catcher Kelli Wagner had some communication issues to start off the game in the top of the first inning, with two walks, two passed balls and a wild pitch leading to a 1-0 Virginia lead.
The Cavaliers tacked on another run in the top of the third inning when third baseman Hayley Busby homered to left field and doubled their lead to 2-0.
One inning later, more self-inflicted wounds led to Virginia runs, as an error by senior second baseman Natalie Jones, and another wild pitch and walk from Devin Wallace led to two more runs for the Cavaliers, who again doubled their lead.
NC State answered back in the bottom of the fourth inning with freshman shortstop April Visser leading off the inning by launching a solo home run to left field to cut the Cavaliers lead to 4-1.
After Wallace held Virginia scoreless in the top of the fifth inning, sophomore left fielder Sam Russ led off the bottom of the inning with a walk and two batters later sophomore third baseman Logan Morris ripped a two-run home run to left field, cutting the deficit to one run and giving the Wolfpack some life.
The Pack’s hopes were short-lived, however, as Wallace let up singles to two of the first three batters in the top of the sixth inning and was pulled from the game in favor of freshman right-hander Sydney Nester. On Nester’s second pitch, Busby found the opposite side of the fence again, this time a three-run home run to give Virginia at 7-3 lead.
The Cavaliers knocked Nester around for two more hits and one more insurance run to take an 8-3 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning.
Jones led off the inning with a single, and after an error and walk back to back, Russ stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and lined a single into center field, scoring Jones and keeping the bases juiced with no outs for junior right fielder Brigette Nordberg.
Nordberg couldn’t keep the rally going, reaching base on a fielder’s choice double play at third base and home plate. The very next batter, Morris, grounded out and the Pack came away from bases loaded and no outs with just one run.
Junior infielder Skylar Johnston homered to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning and cut the score to 8-5, but that was all the Pack had going in the last frame, going down in order to end the game.
Russ went 3 for 3 with a double to lead an NC State lineup that racked up eight hits and drew three walks but couldn’t produce with runners on base, stranding a fatal eight runners on base.
The Wolfpack will return to action Sunday at 12 p.m. when it takes on Virginia at Dail Softball Stadium in the final game of the weekend series.