The NC State softball team dropped its first game of a weekend series against Virginia 12-0 Friday night at Dail Softball Stadium.
Playing in the annual pink game to raise awareness for breast cancer research, the Wolfpack (26-24, 6-13 ACC) was thrashed by the Cavaliers (18-30, 6-16 ACC) in a game it desperately needed to win to stay alive in the race to qualify for the ACC Tournament.
Virginia got on the scoreboard first as designated player Abigail Barber homered to right field to lead off the top of the second inning and put the Cavaliers up 1-0. Freshman right-hander Sydney Nester got the next two batters out, but after issuing a walk and letting up a single to center field, back-to-back errors led to two more runs and a 3-0 lead for Virginia.
With two runners on base after the errors, left fielder Tori Gilbert stepped to the plate and took advantage of a miscue by Nester on a 3-2 count to launch a home run to left field and double the Cavaliers’ lead to 6-0.
Nester’s struggles continued in the third inning. The freshman allowed a leadoff single to start the inning, and after striking out the next batter, a walk and back-to-back singles plated a run and knocked Nester out of the game.
Sophomore right-hander Kama Woodall came in for Nester and recorded back-to-back outs, but a throwing error by freshman catcher Kelli Wagner on a strikeout allowed two runs to score and Virginia increased its lead to 9-0.
The Wolfpack’s error bug hadn’t run its course yet, as a two-out error by sophomore second baseman Chandley Garner, her second error of the game, in the top of the fourth inning allowed another unearned run to cross the plate and give Virginia a double-digit lead, 10-0.
The Cavaliers continued its onslaught in the fifth inning when Gilbert homered for the second time, this one a two-run shot to center field for a 12-0 lead.
Virginia right-hander Aly Rayle shut down the Wolfpack offense all night, striking out nine batters and allowing just one hit and two walks.
NC State’s defense was abhorrent throughout the game, racking up four errors, leading to seven of Virginia’s 12 runs registering as unearned.
Sophomore left fielder Sam Russ had the only NC State hit of the game, and her and senior infielder Natalie Jones each walked once to round out the Pack’s only three baserunners.
With the loss, the Wolfpack’s ACC Tournament chances are on life support, as a much-needed series win over the Cavaliers is now in jeopardy.
NC State will return to action on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Dail Softball Stadium in the second game of its weekend series.