Pack Close Out 'Cleers, Lose Ground in ACC Race

USA TODAY Sports

The softball team closed out the regular season with a pair of wins and will get the #4 seed in the ACC tournament. They take on UNC in the quarterfinals.

N.C. State completed its sweep of Coastal Carolina Sunday thanks to a five-run eighth inning that erased a one-run deficit. The win was the team's fifth straight, but unfortunately the out of conference weekend series did nothing to help the Pack in their pursuit of a spot in the conference tournament, and they didn't get any help from Boston College and Notre Dame.

The Eagles lost two of three to Pittsburgh and the Irish were swept by Maryland, so State remains on the outside of the ACC's top 10 with just six conference games remaining. Only 10 teams will make the tournament field.

Here are the up-to-the-minute standings in the race for 10th:

Team/Place

ACC W-L

Games Back

Wake Forest/8th

12-12

--

Maryland/9th

12-14

--

Pittsburgh/9th

11-13

--

N.C. State/11th

9-15

2

The Pack, which entered the weekend just a half game behind Maryland, hosts Wake Forest next weekend and desperately needs a sweep. Taking all three games of the series would vault the Pack into at least 10th place and obviously give them the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Deacons. The Panthers and Terps square off this weekend; I suppose the thing to do is hope that somebody sweeps somebody in what will be the last regular season series for Maryland as an ACC member institution.

State closes the season at Virginia Tech. Pittsburgh gets last-place Notre Dame. Wake has #1 Virginia.

As noted in the intro, the Pack entered the bottom of the eighth down 4-3 to the Chanticleers. That took all of two batters to change. After Chance Shepard singled to start the frame, Jake Armstrong launched his fourth homer of the season to stake his team to a 5-4 lead. After two were out in the inning, Logan Ratledge singled home a run and Andrew Knizner plated two more with his single to push the margin to 8-4.

Jon Olczak got two quick outs in the ninth before surrendering a double and a walk. Cody Beckman came on and got Coastal's #3 hitter, Jake Kane, on a fly out to end the threat and earn his second save.

Trea Turner, who (as Akula pointed out) had himself a ridiculous series, homered for the seventh time this season. After a scuffling by his high standards for much of the year, Turner is now on pace for what would be a 25-homer, 75-steal season over a 162-game MLB season. Somebody gonna show him the money in June.

Here's Turner's line for the weekend:

AB

H

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

SB

OPS

11

9

11

1

1

1

3

3

1

6

2.221

Turner entered the series hovering around the .300 mark; now he's batting .330. His season OPS is up to .947, which is more in line with expectations after his 1.008 mark from 2013.

We would be remiss not to mention Knizner's series. The freshman took advantage of Turner's table setting, driving in nine runs in the series. Knizner now has 40 runs batted in in 43 games. Brett Austin also homered in the series.

***

As intrepid reader and women's basketball fanposter extraordinaire sbas2 noted in the comments of a recent post, the women's softball team concluded its regular season with a doubleheader sweep at UNC-Charlotte. The ladies won five of their last six games to finish 34-15 (16-8 in the ACC).

Renada Davis hit her 17th home run of the season against the 49ers and Emily Weiman notched her 28th win. For fun, let's extrapolate their numbers over a 162-game MLB season. Davis would hit 56 home runs, score 136 runs, and drive in 103 from the leadoff spot. Weiman would throw 812 innings and win 93 games before donating her arm to the Smithsonian.

The Pack plays North Carolina, a team they've beaten two out of three during each of the past two regular seasons, Thursday in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament. It's a 1:30 first pitch and should be available on both the Ocho and your regional sports network du jour. A win would likely pit the Pack against league regular season champion Florida State in the semifinals. The Pack beat the Noles 1-0 in last year's final, but FSU swept the regular season series this year.

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