The NC State softball team swept its midweek doubleheader against Norfolk State 7-1 and 10-2 on Tuesday afternoon, pushing its current winning streak to six.
The Wolfpack (19-6, 3-0 ACC) came out of a rain delay on fire in the first game and capitalized on errors from the Spartans (6-14) in the second en route to its 18th and 19th wins of the season.
In game one, Norfolk State got on the board first with a leadoff homer from Loren Hudson in the top of the second. The Pack answered right back in the bottom of the inning with an RBI double from junior catcher Sam Sack that scored senior designated player Brigette Nordberg.
The Wolfpack took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth as junior pinch hitter Carson Shaner hit her third pinch-hit home run of the season. The bomb was Shaner’s fifth homer of the season and just her ninth hit.
“We’ve been rolling with more than nine hitters deep and that’s a good problem to have,” said head coach Jennifer Patrick-Swift. “It’s just trying to figure out, strategically, when we want to make what moves... She has certainly been clutch.”
After the top of the sixth, the game went to a lengthy rain delay. The Pack came out of the delay swinging as Nordberg followed up a walk from redshirt junior Randi Farricker with a two-run homer.
“Ironically, I said, ‘God gave us a reset button. He didn’t want to see any more of it so we needed a reset,’ kind of laughed about it,” Patrick-Swift said about her message to the team during the rain delay. “There are some times where you just have to shake your head and move on. Say, ‘Forget about it’ and restart and reset, that’s what we did.”
The Spartans managed to get the next two Wolfpack batters out but Shaner got the Pack going with a double to right field and junior left fielder Sam Russ brought Shaner around to score with a single. Senior right fielder Tatyana Forbes reached on a bunt and a wild pitch put both her and Russ in scoring position, the pair were brought home by a single from junior third baseman Logan Morris.
That was all the offense the Pack could muster in the sixth as senior center fielder Angie Rizzi struck out, stranding Morris on first. Senior pitcher Devin Wallace finished her complete game in the circle allowing just one runner to reach base in the seventh. Across the game, Wallace gave up five hits and one earned run, striking out four and walking just one.
“It was good for her to come out and command the strike zone and really attack hitters,” Patrick-Swift said. “She did a good job of that. We know she has it in her. She just has to get out there and continue to do that.”
Freshman righty Sam Gress got the start in the circle for the second game. The Pack took no time getting its offense going in the second game. After Forbes drew a one-out walk, Morris smashed a double, scoring Forbes. Rizzi kept it going in the next at-bat, advancing Morris to third and reaching second on an error.
An odd error scored both Rizzi and Morris as Nordberg popped one up in the infield and both the catcher and the second baseman went for the ball, colliding right next to the circle. The second baseman looked to have made the catch but she dropped it as the catcher ran into her and both runners scored. The Spartans managed to end the inning in the next at-bat but the damage was done.
After throwing a 1-2-3 first inning, Gress ran into some trouble in the second, putting two on base via a walk and hitting a batter. Both runners scored on a single but the batter was tagged out trying to stretch it into a double, ending the inning.
Despite loading the bases in the second, the Pack was only able to pick up a single run in the inning, again via an error. Continuing its offensive onslaught, the Wolfpack tacked on three more in the third with Forbes (two) and Russ (one) picking up the RBIs.
The Pack scored three runs off of errors in the second game, capitalizing on the mistakes made by the Spartans.
“You got to push,” Patrick-Swift said. “You got to just try and get an extra base or two every chance you get. They were errors but it’s because we hit the ball hard. A lot of those were hard off the bat. When you hit the ball hard good things happen.”
Like Wallace in the first game, Gress pitched a complete game going six innings, giving up two runs on four hits and striking out four, walking two.
“She’s been doing good,” Patrick-Swift said. “She does a great job of changing speeds and keeping hitters off balance. That is her biggest key to success. As long as she continues to do that and has the hitters guessing at a couple of different speeds, that’s where the success lies for her.”
After adding another run from a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth, the Pack went three-up three-down in the fifth. The Wolfpack finally completed the mercy rule in the sixth inning with Sack hitting a two-RBI double with the bases loaded.
Across both games, Forbes had five hits and two RBIs, continuing her strong start to the season, which saw her enter the second game of the doubleheader hitting .545. Forbes’s pair of RBIs in the third inning were her 15th and 16th of the season.
“I’m not worried about my batting average,” Forbes said. “I’m just doing whatever I can to get on base because we have such a powerful team.”
The Wolfpack will be back in action over the weekend for a three-game series against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. First pitch of the Friday game is set for 6 p.m.