The NC State softball team dropped its first game in 12 days Thursday afternoon, losing to UNC-Chapel Hill 6-1 in the semifinal round of the ACC Tournament in Tallahassee, FL.
Just 24 hours after knocking off top-seeded Virginia Tech in a thrilling 3-2 win, the Wolfpack (31-27, 9-15 ACC) couldn’t keep the magic alive in its first meeting of the season against the rival Tar Heels (34-17, 17-7 ACC).
Sophomore left fielder Sam Russ led the game off with a line drive into the left-center gap, legging out a triple to give the Pack a hot start, but a groundout to the pitcher and back-to-back strikeouts stranded Russ at third base.
UNC struck first in the bottom of the first inning, as junior right-hander Devin Wallace allowed a walk and a single to the first two batters before a sacrifice fly brought home the first run of the game. Wallace soon settled down, retiring the next two batters to escape the inning down just 1-0.
Junior right fielder Brigette Nordberg led off the next inning with a walk, and after advancing to second base on a passed ball, senior designated player Jessica Moore ripped a two-out double to right field to tie the game up.
Wallace issued a leadoff walk to begin the bottom of the fourth inning, and after a groundout and botched fielder’s choice attempt put runners on second and third with one out, designated player Zoe Goodman launched a three-run home run to left field, putting the Tar Heels up 4-1 and forcing the Pack to its bullpen.
Sophomore right-hander Kama Woodall struggled to get out of the inning, allowing three hits, and her defense didn’t give her any support either, committing two errors in the field. Once Woodall got a strikeout to end the inning, UNC led 6-1 and the damage was done.
NC State had no answer for UNC ace Brittany Pickett, who shut down the Wolfpack lineup to the tune of 13 strikeouts and just three hits and one walk.
Russ (2 for 3, 3B) and Moore (1 for 2, 2B, RBI) were the only players in the lineup to pick up a hit and Nordberg was the only one to draw a walk, as four players struck out at least two times in a fatefully poor day at the plate.
The Wolfpack’s season is likely over, as an at-large bid in the Women’s College World Series is a long shot for the Pack.