Midweek Diamond Update: Everyone Is a Winner

Dennis Grombkowski

The ladies got to work on their NCAA credentials while the men kept scoring runs in bunches.

For the first time since March 27th of last year, someone other than Emily Weiman got the win in the circle for the N.C. State women's softball team, which swept a doubleheader Wednesday against #25 USC-Upstate to extend its winning streak to eight games.

Weiman worked the first game and shut out the previously undefeated Spartans, scattering four hits and posting a 5-to-2 K-to-BB ratio. The only run of the 1-0 final came when Renada Davis plated Kirsty Grant, who had walked and stolen second, with an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth.

It was time for the freshwomen to shine in game two, as Molly Hutchinson's pair of dingers provided the offense Courtney Mirabella needed to secure her first career win. Hutchinson (five) wrestled the team lead in round trippers from Davis (four) with the two-homer day. Hutchinson is slugging a sparkling .711 over her first 38 collegiate at bats. Mirabella worked five innings and gave up a pair of runs, neither of which were earned, in the 5-3 final. Mirabella fanned five in her five innings of work before yielding to Weiman, who was also touched for an unearned run but ultimately closed the door on the doubleheader to notch her first save of the season.

Upstate (19-2) came into the game with 26 team home runs but did not register a single long ball among its paltry seven total hits in the two games. The Pack (10-6) had been 0-4 against ranked opponents before the sweep. They return to action Saturday for another doubleheader as part of a three-game series against Pittsburgh.

***

The Pack nine pounded North Carolina A&T for the second time this season, exploding for a 10-spot in the bottom of the sixth to break open what had been a tie game en route to a 17-4 win. Andrew Knizner dropped a three-run bomb, his second homer in as many games, and singled in a run in the 10-run frame. He finished the game 3-for-4 with two runs scored and five RBI. The Pack (10-2) outscored the Aggies (6-4) 32-4 in their two midweek games, and they've put up 33 runs in two games since getting shut out against UCLA.

Knizner, who has hit in 10 straight games, is slashing .432/.468/.659 while accounting for 25% of N.C. State's extra-base hits so far this year. Logan Ratledge, who curiously entered the game with 10 RBI on just seven hits, went 4-for-5 and scored three times but did not drive in a run. So much for the McGwire watch.

The one drawback from the game was the starting performance from Patrick Patterson, who was roughed up for four runs in just 2.2 innings. Patterson's twin brother, Eric, picked up the slack, striking out three in 2.1 shutout innings. Andrew Woeck notched his second win of the season by virtue of being the pitcher of record when the Pack took the lead. He struck out the side in his inning of work. In all, the Pack pen recorded 11 strikeouts in 6.1 scoreless innings.

The Aggies have a win under their belt against SoCon champ Elon, a team that has been a thorn in State's side the last couple of seasons, and entered the game having won twice as many as they have lost, so they are not total cupcakes. Still, things promise to get a bit tougher when the Pack welcome Notre Dame to the Doak for a three-game set this weekend. Led by Sean Fitzgerald (2-1, 1.93 ERA), the Irish have a deep pitching staff that has compiled a solid 3.24 ERA so far this season, but the team, which doesn't have a single player slugging over .370, has struggled mightily to score runs.

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