In a spectacular effort led by freshman right-handed pitcher Madison Inscoe, NC State softball captured its first conference win of the season with an 11-3 victory over Notre Dame.
Exactly one week after they notched a win over then-No. 12/14 Duke, the Fighting Irish (11-7, 1-3) returned to North Carolina for the first of three games against the Wolfpack (7-14, 1-3). NC State handled Notre Dame in style, recording its fourth mercy-rule win of the season to end the game in six innings.
“We just all believed in each other,” said assistant coach Carson Shaner. “It didn’t matter who was in the box — we all knew they were gonna get the job done. We wanted to finish the game early, and that’s what we did.”
Inscoe was the star of the show, recording four strikeouts against the Fighting Irish. After Notre Dame logged three runs in the first two innings — including one homer — Inscoe didn’t allow another run for the rest of the evening.
Despite giving up an early lead, NC State’s luck turned around after graduate center fielder Rebecca Murray made a diving catch to cap Notre Dame’s lead at three in the top of the second. Minutes later, freshman shortstop Makayla Marbury and freshman catcher Amanda Hasler registered back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the frame to put the Pack on the board.
NC State recorded a stunning seven runs in the third inning alone thanks in large part to a bases-loaded walk drawn by sophomore designated hitter Taylor Ensley and a three-run RBI double from freshman second baseman Nadia Sykes for four runs. Hasler logged her second homer of the game shortly thereafter to bring in Sykes and Marbury, giving the Pack a cushy 9-3 lead.
“Our two freshmen — Madison Inscoe, Amanda Hasler — stepped up,” Shaner said. “They called their own pitches tonight, so it was great to see them compete defensively, and our bats were hot tonight. We just passed the bat, and everybody was hitting the ball. We all just believed each other.”
The Fighting Irish never returned to seriously threaten NC State’s chances at victory, and the fourth and fifth innings passed without incident. A slick double play quickly ended Notre Dame’s chances at a comeback in the fourth inning, and Inscoe recorded her fourth and final strikeout of the game to close out the top of the fifth.
Despite a slight cooldown after its seven-run inning, the Wolfpack returned with two runs in the bottom of the sixth to cement an early exit for Notre Dame. After graduate left fielder Katlyn Pavlick brought freshman pinch runner Gabi Wilson home with a single down the left field line, sophomore third baseman Hannah Goodwin secured NC State’s mercy-rule win with a single, sending Murray to home plate for the final time.
“We hung with a great Virginia Tech team last weekend, and we were ready to try and take the series this weekend,” Shaner said. “Sweep [the series], if we can — that’s our goal. We had some freshmen step up big tonight, and we’re just super excited about what they’re gonna do this year.”
Due to inclement weather, Sunday’s game against Notre Dame was pushed up to Saturday, March 11. The Wolfpack will return to Dail Softball Stadium tomorrow for a doubleheader against the Fighting Irish, with game two starting at 2 p.m. and game three starting at 4:30 p.m.
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