Playing its second doubleheader in three days, the NC State softball team beat the Louisville Cardinals 8-4 and 4-3 in back-to-back games to clinch its first ACC series win of the season.
The Wolfpack (3-1, 3-1 ACC) got five home runs from five different players and were able to close out both games despite some late scoring in each by the Cardinals (0-4, 0-2 ACC).
“I think we pretty much dominated today,” said head coach Jennifer Patrick-Swift. “I think we were in control a lot, and I think we remained in control, even late… The whole time, we knew we were going to find a way to win and seal the deal.”
In game one, the Wolfpack got the scoring started in the top of the first when redshirt senior outfielder Angie Rizzi drove in redshirt junior outfielder Sam Russ with a double to make the score 1-0. Redshirt junior infielder Logan Morris then drove in Rizzi on a single to center field to make the score 2-0. In the bottom of the inning, the Cardinals hit a two-run home run to tie the score 2-2 at the end of the first.
After a scoreless second inning by both teams, the Pack resumed the scoring with a bang in the top of the third when redshirt sophomore infielder April Visser hit a two-run home run that drove in Rizzi to make the score 4-2. The fireworks continued in the top of the fourth when Russ hit a two-run home run that drove in redshirt freshman infielder Sam Gress to make the score 6-2.
“I’m definitely getting comfortable in the box,” Russ said. “I’m feeling like myself, really trying to swing at good pitches — pitches I know I can hit hard — and really just trying to do what I can to eliminate any kind of weak outs and run the ball out of the park.”
The Pack hit a home run for the third straight inning when Morris hit a solo shot in the top of the fifth to make the score 7-2. In the top of the sixth, Rizzi drove in Russ on a single to extend the lead to 8-2.
“Everyone just felt loose and felt like it was flowing the way we need to,” Morris said. “We got some early hits that kept us going, and of course a lot of home runs help a lot.”
The Cardinals scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth on freshman pitcher Estelle Czech, but that was not enough as the Pack won 8-4. Redshirt senior pitcher Abby Trahan got the win after allowing two runs in five innings pitched, giving her a record of 2-1 this season. Three NC State players homered, four had two RBIs each, and Rizzi led the way with three hits.
In game two, the fireworks began early. After Visser drove in Rizzi on a single, Morris hit a two-run home run that drove in Visser to give the Pack a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. It wasn’t until the sixth inning that either team scored again when the Cardinals hit a solo home run in the top of the inning, but redshirt junior outfielder Carson Shaner answered with a solo home run of her own to make the score 4-1 heading into the final inning.
The Cardinals made things interesting in the seventh, scoring two runs to cut the lead to 4-3 and had the go-ahead run on base, but redshirt sophomore pitcher Sydney Nester was able to get the last out and clinch her first win of the season after pitching a full game.
Having now played two doubleheaders against ACC opponents, NC State will play again on Saturday against both Louisville and Boston College, the latter of whom the Pack split its first doubleheader with.
The Pack will be looking to clinch another series win when it takes on Boston College at 11 a.m. and sweep the series when it takes on Louisville at 3 p.m. Both games are at Dail Softball Stadium in Raleigh and will be broadcasted on ACC Network Extra.