With a home run-hot offense and a very talented pitching staff, NC State softball was on its way to finishing what would have been a very successful 2020 season. There are many moments that could be highlighted but here are the top-five moments from 2020.
5. 12-run win over Lehigh
This huge win over Lehigh marked one of the largest victories for NC State all season. With a final score of 12-2, the Wolfpack dominated all six innings of play, both defensively and offensively. What makes this game truly special is that the Pack hit five home runs.
Junior outfielder Sam Russ started it off with a solo home run in the first inning to give the Pack a 1-0 lead. Junior catcher Sam Sack extended the lead to 3-0 in the third with a solo shot of her own. The fifth inning was huge for NC State with a solo homer from senior outfielder Angie Rizzi and a three-run shot from junior outfielder Carson Shaner, raising the lead to 7-2. Sack walked it off with her second home run of the day, bringing the final score to 12-2.
Head coach Jennifer Patrick-Swift has worked hard on incorporating a “home run mindset” into her team, and this victory is a great example of that philosophy, marking the most home runs hit in any game this season and in any NC State game since May 7, 2016.
4. Walk-off homer over Ohio State
NC State opened up play in Raleigh this season on Feb. 14 against Ohio State as a part of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. At the time, the Buckeyes were a very dominant team with a 3-1 record and receiving votes in both the AP and USA Today polls.
The game started in the Buckeyes favor, following a sac-fly and an RBI double in the fourth inning; they extended their lead in the sixth with a solo home run.
The Pack was able to start the comeback thanks to a two-run shot from senior outfielder Brigette Nordberg over the center-field fence. The comeback was completed with a three-run homer from junior infielder Logan Morris bringing the score to 5-2.
After losing to Mississippi State 9-0 just five days before, this three-run shot marked a turning point and momentum spark for this Wolfpack softball team that made a difference throughout the rest of the weekend and the rest of the season.
3. 2-1 win over Bucknell
Not only did this win solidify a perfect weekend in the Fairfield Crabtree Invitational for the Pack, but the win also led it to the best 15-game start in program history.
As a low-scoring affair, NC State’s only two runs were scored off a pinch-hit two-run homer run by senior infielder Skylar Johnston.
Bucknell attempted the comeback in the sixth inning, loading the bases on a walk, hit-by-pitch and a single. Another walk brought in their first and only run, but the Pack was able to stop the bleeding thanks to a huge double play started by redshirt junior infielder Randi Farricker.
2. Shutout over St. Joseph's
The Wolfpack pitching was dominant throughout the entire 2020 season, but especially in the latter part of February.
In this specific game, senior Devin Wallace and freshman Sam Gress showed just how successful this pitching staff could be, combining for the Wolfpack’s first shutout of 2020. Wallace struck out five batters in her five innings pitched, letting up only three hits and no walks while Gress walked one batter and let up two hits in her two innings.
NC State scored seven runs throughout the course of the game giving it the 7-0 win.
1. Sam Gress’ no-hitter against NC A&T
In her first collegiate start, Gress threw a no-hitter to lead the Pack to the victory against North Carolina A&T. In five innings pitched, Gress struck out five and let the only runner on base through a hit-by-pitch.
The offense was right behind her all game, scoring nine runs off home runs from Farricker, Rizzi and Shaner, who hit two of her own. Runners also scored off an RBI single, a wild pitch and a sack-fly.
This truly was one of the best games the Pack played all year, showcasing its talent in both pitching and hitting, which is what makes it No. 1 on this list.