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Freshman pitcher Estelle Czech is met by her teammates after striking out a Louisiana State hitter on Saturday, April 18, 2021 in Dail Softball Stadium. The Wolfpack lost to the Tigers 2-1.

After a series loss against Florida State last weekend, the NC State softball team will return home to finish up regular season play, hosting Duke in a four-game series.

In its trip to Tallahassee, Florida, the Pack (25-20, 15-18 ACC) went 1-3 against the Seminoles, losing by narrow margins, as small as 2-1 in one game. While the Wolfpack was able to avoid a sweep against Florida State behind a strong pitching performance, it was not enough to escape the series loss.

Sitting at third in the ACC, the Blue Devils (34-10, 22-10 ACC) are coming off a seven-game win streak after recently sweeping North Carolina and taking three of four games against Louisville the week prior. Duke also has one game scheduled against Campbell on Wednesday, May 5, at 6 p.m., so it will extend its win streak to eight games if it defeats the Camels.

On offense, the Blue Devils rank second in the ACC in runs scored while ranking fifth in hits, showing that Duke can convert hits into scoring plays efficiently. Currently leading Duke in hits is infielder Deja Davis with 51 knocks this season, tied for fifth in the ACC. Her teammate, outfielder Jameson Kavel, also appears on the conference leaderboard, ranking second in the ACC in doubles. The team ranks second in hit by pitch as well, just behind NC State.

While the Wolfpack may be the underdog heading into the weekend series, NC State maintains the same batting average as Duke, batting .276 so far this season. 

Posing a threat for the Pack will be the Blue Devils’ pitching, as starting pitcher Peyton St. George helped secure the team’s recent wins against the Tar Heels. St. George struck out 10 of 15 Tar Heel batters in one game and came in after Shelby Waters in the team’s final game against North Carolina to shut out all hitters in the last two frames. With these two pitchers headlining the staff, Duke clocks in at fourth in the ACC for the lowest earned run average.

While NC State may be coming off a series loss to Florida State, the Pack is showing that it can also pitch well, limiting the Seminoles to only four hits with three strikeouts in its only win of that series. The Pack will need to utilize its batters in this series to get runs on the board against the Blue Devils, a team that is able to limit its opponent’s scoring.

The Wolfpack will commence its last regular season series starting Friday, May 7, at 6 p.m. at Dail Softball Stadium. The series opener will be available to watch on ACC Network Extra.