The NC State softball team completed its sweep of the North Carolina A&T Aggies in style with a 17-1 victory in five innings on Saturday, April 3 at Dail Softball Stadium. The Pack showcased both its power and discipline in the lopsided result by notching five home runs and seven walks.
After taking care of business in the top of the first, freshman right-handed pitcher Brooklyn Lucero (3.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 H) quickly got a lead to work with in the bottom half of the frame. The Wolfpack (17-11) racked up three runs on one hit and five walks on North Carolina A&T (7-20) before Aggie right-handed pitcher S’Niyah Stinson could record a single out.
N.C. A&T right-handed pitcher Sharla Kirkpatrick was able to stop the bleeding from out of the bullpen by forcing freshman second baseman Kaylee Lambrecht (0-3, RBI) to ground into a fielder's choice that sent a fourth run home for NC State before striking out the last two batters to end the inning.
The Aggies threatened to respond early in the top of the second by putting runners on first and second with only one out. Lucero was able to escape the jam, inducing a groundout to shortstop that put both runners in scoring position before a quick throw by redshirt junior third baseman Logan Morris (3-3, 3 R, 5 RBI) snuffed out the Aggies’ squeeze play to end the inning.
The top of the second did not start as well for the Pack, as two quick outs preceded a single by Morris to keep the inning alive. NC State made good on its second chance with a two-out rally that began with a homer to left-center field by redshirt junior designated player Sam Sack (2-3, 2 HR, 5 RBI, BB) to put the Pack up 6-0. Redshirt junior shortstop Randi Farricker (3-3, 3 HR, 5 RBI) followed suit with a dinger of her own to extend the lead.
North Carolina A&T put itself on the board when right fielder Jai Deese hit the 1-0 pitch over the wall in left-center to diminish the Pack’s lead to 7-1. Lucero recovered quickly by forcing a fly out to right before Morris instigated a 5-4-3 double play that ended the Aggies’ attack. The Wolfpack scored five more runs on five hits in the bottom of the third, increasing its lead to 12-1. The frame featured Farricker’s second homer of the game.
Redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Sam Gress (1.1 IP, 0 ER) entered the pitcher’s circle to start the fourth inning for NC State, and the two-out rally attempt by North Carolina A&T was quelled by Gress and the defense behind her. With a runner on first and two out, Aggie pinch hitter Hailee Cutts hit a pop-up behind second base that was dropped by Lambrecht. Lambrecht immediately made up for her mistake by firing a throw to Farricker at second base to tag out the runner and end the frame.
Redshirt junior catcher Madeline Curtis (2-3) started behind the plate for NC State, and she continued to capitalize on her recent uptick in appearances with a one-out single in the bottom of the fourth.
Two more walks by the Aggies loaded the bases for Morris, who hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Curtis and pad the Pack’s lead to 13-1. Sack and Farricker were not satisfied to rest on their laurels, however, as they went yard in back-to-back at-bats again to tack four more runs on the board for a 17-1 Wolfpack lead. Redshirt senior right fielder Brigette Nordberg (0-1) popped out to shortstop to end the rally, but the damage had been beyond done.
Gress faltered into a one-out scenario loading the bases in the top of the fifth, so Lucero returned to the pitcher’s circle to finish out the game. Wasting no time, Lucero’s first pitch sent a ground ball to Morris at third base, who threw to first for the double play, and NC State clinched the 17-1 mercy-rule victory.
The Pack will continue its homestand on Friday, April 9 as it takes on the Pittsburgh Panthers. Friday’s first pitch will be at 6 p.m. and the game will be available on ACC Network Extra.