The NC State softball team is hosting the ACC/Big Ten Challenge this weekend for its first slate of home games of the 2019 season. The Pack will host the Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-2) and the Wisconsin Badgers (4-1).
This past weekend, the Wolfpack (3-2) played three top-25 teams and one team receiving votes. Out of those four teams, the Pack defeated two of them, including No. 7 Arizona.
The top offensive production to emerge out of the weekend for the Pack was junior outfielder Angie Rizzi. She had a team high batting average of .417 over the five games, a team high on base and a slugging percentage at 1.313. Rizzi showed great promise with her offensive production especially with facing some of the top arms in Florida’s Kelly Barnhill and Arizona’s Alyssa Denham.
Rizzi started all five games in center field, playing all 35 innings across the five games. She also made nine putouts on the defensive end, still holding a perfect fielding percentage.
The top pitcher to watch for this weekend for the Pack is junior Devin Wallace who had a dominant opening weekend. Wallace registered 11 strikeouts with a 0.91 earned run average and a 1.19 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) over 15.1 innings pitched.
Wallace pitched in four of the five games and started in three of those games. She threw a complete game against South Florida and four innings against an impressive Florida lineup.
As for the opponents the Wolfpack will face, both teams played the same opponents to begin their 2019 campaign in Omaha, Lamar and Texas Tech. Both teams had similar results, defeating Lamar and Omaha, but losing to twentieth-ranked Texas Tech.
Nebraska features two stellar seniors, one on the offensive side and the other pitcher. Both catcher Bri Cassidy and pitcher Regan Mergele had strong first weekends for the Cornhuskers, looking to be strong senior leaders with their play and vocally for the team.
Wisconsin features two underclassman as their emerging players after the first weekend. Sophomore third baseman Taylor Johnson started off her season batting .563 with nine hits, including one homerun. She is also the Badgers leadoff hitter.
The top pitcher for Wisconsin from the weekend was freshman Maddie Schwartz who posted a 0.88 earned run average with one complete game and a .143 opponent batting average. Sophomore pitcher Haley Hestekin saw the most time in the circle over the five game span, tossing 14 innings and striking out 11 batters. However, she also gave up 18 hits and seven earned runs.
The Wolfpack will face both Wisconsin and Nebraska twice over the weekend, looking to add to its solid start to the 2019 season. Play for the Pack will begin on Friday, Feb. 15 at 4:00 p.m. when it takes on the Cornhuskers. Following that will be a doubleheader on Saturday and one game on Sunday.