Led by a career high five-RBI performance from Leah Jones and a steady defense, N.C. State pounded Elon Wednesday night to win its sixth straight game and 13th in its last 15 contests. The Pack (27-18-1) climbed to within three wins of reaching 30 for the first time since 2008 with the mercy-rule shortened shutout on the road against the Phoenix (16-29).
For the sixth consecutive game, the Pack did not make an error behind starter Emily Weiman, who worked four shutout innings to pick up her 25th win of the season. Chelsea Stanfield finished up the abbreviated contest with a scoreless fifth frame.
Jones hit her third home run of the season, a three-run shot, and added a two-run single. Renada Davis went 3-for-4, extending her school record with her 21st home run of the season. Davis also scored and drove in a pair of runs. Scout Albertson and Kirsty Grant both contributed two hits and two runs scored, and Albertson drove in three.
Reaching 30 wins is significant because last season no team in the top 40 in RPI with 30 or more wins was left out of the NCAA tournament. Only Oklahoma State, which finished with a losing record (25-26) but ranked 38th in RPI, did not make the field from the top 40. Kansas (50th) was the highest ranked team with 30 wins last season to not make the field. The Jayhawks were 31-20.
The Pack rank 40th in RPI but unfortunately will not have an opportunity to improve their position this weekend against Boston College (12-30) in Chestnut Hill. The Eagles have won just two ACC games and rank 211th in RPI. Still, a sweep puts the Pack at 30 wins with a chance to improve both their RPI and win total in the ACC tournament.
Florida State (21st), Virginia Tech (32nd), and North Carolina (38th) all rank ahead of the Pack in RPI. N. C. State is 4-4 against those teams this year with an unfortunate sweep at home against the Seminoles but a two-game sweep over the Hokies in a weather-shortened series in Blacksburg. The Pack took two of the three from the rival Heels, with both wins coming on walk-off home runs.
Five ACC teams made the NCAA tournament last season. Even if the committee takes just four this time, the Pack appear to be in good position to return to the tournament for the first time since 2007.