The NC State softball team is currently riding a four-game winning streak after sweeping Notre Dame in its first ACC series of the season. In its last nonconference win, the team took on North Carolina A&T in a 12-2 blowout that lasted only six innings. The Wolfpack (17-6, 3-0 ACC) will be looking to repeat that same success in its double-header against the Norfolk State Spartans.
Norfolk State sits at a poor 6-12 record this season, with blowout losses to teams like Youngstown State, Marshall and Drexel. However, the Spartans have had the misfortune of seeing a handful of games cancelled, potentially costing them some victories that could have made this team look drastically different ahead of this matchup.
The Spartans are a very young team, boasting 10 freshmen and just seven upperclassmen in total. Among these upperclassmen is outfielder Jazzmaine Hammond, who is the team’s most consistent hitter. Hammond has a .357 batting average with 11 runs, 15 hits, 15 RBI’s, three home runs and a .643 slugging percentage, all of which lead the team among qualifying players.
Stopping Hammond is the key to shutting down the Spartans, and any of senior Devin Wallace, freshman Sam Gress or sophomore Sydney Nester are up to the job, pending on who is named the starter for the game. Nester has pitched the most innings for the Pack and has a solid 3.24 ERA with 89 strikeouts to her name thus far this season.
This game also provides an opportunity for fans to see two strong coaches at work, with the Pack’s own Jennifer Patrick-Swift and Norfolk State’s James Inzana. While the Spartans currently have a losing record, Inzana brought last year’s team to a regular season divisional title, its first ever, and its first winning record in six years. While the Spartans are certainly young, Inzana has shown that he is capable of having tricks up his sleeve to secure wins.
Norfolk State has split its pitchers up on the mound pretty evenly, but Alexis Robinson is the most impressive amongst them. Robinson has a very strong 1.87 ERA in 33 innings pitched with 12 strikeouts. If she gets the starting nod, the Wolfpack batters will have an interesting challenge ahead of them.
Luckily, the Pack has been dominant on the bats this season, with junior catcher Sam Sack, senior outfielder Angie Rizzi and senior outfielder Brigette Nordberg all accounting for six home runs apiece, and junior infielder Logan Morris not far behind with four of her own. While all four of these players have decent batting lines, senior outfielder Tatyana Forbes’ bat is on another level. Forbes posts a whopping 1.2 on-base plus slugging stat, leading the team.
NC State and Norfolk State will play its first game of the doubleheader on Tuesday, March 10 at noon at Dail Softball Stadium. The second game of the doubleheader is slated to begin at 2 p.m.