When Tennessee came to bat in the bottom of the 11th inning of a 0-0 game, N.C. State starter Emily Weiman was not only still on the hill, she was working on an overall stretch of 38 innings that saw her allow just one run. Unfortunately, the Lady Vols finally got to the sophomore righty with two outs in the frame, pushing the Pack to the loser's bracket of the Knoxville regional and giving Weiman plenty more work to do if the Pack is to advance.
Weiman did go right back to work, toeing the rubber for the elimination game with James Madison and throwing four more frames before the game was halted due to rain. The Pack and Dukes will pick it up with the score knotted at 4-4 Sunday morning at 11:30.
Despite the emotional loss to the Lady Vols, the Pack responded by finally getting their bats going against JMU with a four-spot in the top of the fourth. It must have seemed like a million-run inning after State managed just two runs over its first 20 innings of the regional. The lead was short-lived, however, as the Dukes answered with three in the bottom of the fourth to equalize the elimination game before it was halted by rain. I don't know if the sloppy weather contributed to the Dukes' big inning or if Weiman is actually merely a human being. Regardless, I hope she gets a good night's sleep because she will be going another 17 innings tomorrow if N.C. State is going to advance past the regional round for the first time in program history.
Tennessee starter Ellen Renfroe also went the distance in the extra-inning affair, striking out 13 in her 11-inning shutout. The Pack managed just four hits but also walked four times and reached base on a hit by pitch. The Lady Vols kicked it around a bit as well, making three errors, but the Pack left 11 ladies on base, including leaving the bags drunk after loading them with one out in the fourth.
The bottom of the 11th started innocently enough with Weiman collecting two quick outs on a ground ball and a pop up, but then Cheyanne Tarango singled to right field to extend the inning. Rainey Gaffin followed with a deep fly ball to centerfield that caromed off the top of the wall. Caitlin Dent aggressively went after it but could not get there; unfortunately, her aggressive line left her too close to the wall and the ball bounded away from her, allowing Tarrango to score all the way from first base with the game's lone run.
The winner of the delayed elimination game will face Tennessee at 1:30 p.m. and will need to knock off the hosts twice in order to advance.