Over the last three days of the year, Technician’s sports editors will be counting down the top 19 NC State sports moments of 2019. In part one, we have some Pack pros on the move, a stunning week for one of softball’s best and more.
19. Patrick Bailey’s big bat flip boosts baseball over UNC-Charlotte
Amidst NC State baseball’s 19-0 start, catcher Patrick Bailey helped the team get to win 16 by launching a three-run homer clean out of the Charlotte Knights’ stadium to tie the game at 4-4 in the eighth inning. Then, shortstop Will Wilson took the lead with an RBI single in the ninth and designated hitter Brad Debo was walked to tack on another insurance run.
Not only did Bailey absolutely crush that home run, but he also provided a beautiful bat flip for NC State fans. As the team did all year, it came back from down multiple runs late in games to keep the win streak alive. That was one of the more memorable comebacks because of Bailey’s bat flip.
18. Men’s soccer players making big professional moves
For the 18th spot on our list, we combined something from the beginning of the year and the end of the year. At the end of the January European transfer window, Manny Perez signed for the former European champions Celtic and just a few weeks ago David Loera made the jump to the MLS, signing for the club where he played at the academy level, Orlando City SC.
After signing for Celtic, Perez was loaned back to NCFC, where he played before NC State. The former NC State men’s soccer player made 21 appearances, 12 stars, for NCFC as the team made it into the USL Championship playoffs.
With Loera and Perez both making the jump to the professional level in the last year, it’s clear that head coach George Kiefer and his staff are able to develop talent, a fact that should help attract more top players and continue to build the program for years to come.
17. Kiara Leslie leaps into WNBA
The first of our first-round picks to crack the list, Kiara Leslie was drafted 10th overall in the 2019 WNBA draft by the Washington Mystics. Leslie was a member of the brilliant 2018-19 NC State women’s basketball team that started the season brilliantly and made it all the way to the Sweet 16 in March.
The guard’s first WNBA season ended before it started, unfortunately, when Leslie had to have surgery on a torn meniscus early in the WNBA preseason. Her team would go on to win the WNBA Championship while she was sidelined but the Pack pro still has a bright WNBA career in front of her.
16. Will Wilson selected 15th in MLB draft, headlines eight draft picks
Pack baseball shortstop Will Wilson was selected 15th overall by the Los Angeles Angels in the first round of the MLB draft and was followed by seven more NC State players in the draft, tying the second-most picks in program history. Wilson, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2019, posted a strong .335/.425/.661 slash line in 221 at-bats.
Wilson has since been traded to the San Fransisco Giants and will look to make his way up the ranks in the coming years. First baseman Evan Edwards was next off the board, going in the fourth round to the Miami Marlins. Outfielder Thayer Thomas, and pitchers Jason Parker, Alec Barger, Andrew Blake and Michael Bienlien were also selected.
15. Women’s basketball visits second straight NCAA Sweet 16
For the second year in a row, the women’s basketball team hosted an NCAA Regional and used its Reynolds Coliseum home-court advantage to reach the Sweet 16. A closer-than-expected win over Maine (63-51) and a blowout win over Kentucky (72-57) advanced the three-seed Wolfpack to Greensboro, where it would play two-seed Iowa.
NC State gave the Hawkeyes all they could handle, but a severe lack of depth greatly limited the Wolfpack against Iowa and its National Player of the Year, Megan Gustaffson. Eventually, the Hawkeyes’ size and depth were too much to overcome, and after a record-setting season, the Wolfpack bowed out of the tournament.
14. Brigette Nordberg smashes eight home runs in seven days
In a one-week span from Feb. 25 to Mar. 3 that saw her win National Fastpitch Coaches Association Player of the Week, then-junior right fielder Brigette Nordberg went on a tear at the plate. First, in a 10-1 home win over Murray State, she racked up a home run hat-trick, knocking three balls out of the park.
Two days later she smashed two more home runs, both to right field, in a 12-2 mercy-rule win at home against UNC-Charlotte. She put the cherry on top during a home weekend tournament a few days later, hitting another opposite-field home run in a win over Charleston Southern and ripping two bombs the very next day against Campbell.
Part two will be published on Dec. 30 and the final list will come out on Dec. 31.