N.C. State's Renada Davis and Emily Weiman were given postseason honors--Davis earning first team all-conference and Weiman getting tabbed as the ACC's pitcher of the year--and both backed those plaudits up Thursday in the opening round of the ACC tournament. Davis, the conference leader in long balls, hit her 25th and 26th home runs of the season, and Weiman notched her seventh shutout as the #2 Pack rolled to a 7-0 win over #7 Virginia.
The Pack (31-18-1) looked a little rusty in the early going after not playing for nine days and let the Cavs (21-28) escape a bases-loaded no outs situation in the bottom of the first with only one run scoring. Virginia had a chance to answer in the top of the third with runners on second and third and two out, but Weiman got three-hitter Marcy Bowdren on a fly ball to the edge of the warning track in centerfield to end the threat.
Weiman, who extended her program record with her 29th win of the season, settled down from there, setting down the next 12 batters in a row as Davis took over. The sophomore shortstop's two-run homer put the Pack up 3-0 in the fifth. Hanna Sommer doubled in a run later in the frame to make it 4-0. Then Davis struck again in the sixth, tacking on a three-run blast to close the scoring. Davis, who matched a program record by hitting in her 10th consecutive game, finished 3-for-3 with three runs scored, a walk, a stolen base, and five RBI. She is one behind Longwood's Megan Baltzell's 27 for the national lead in long balls.
The opening round played out perfectly for the Pack, who will get #6 seed Virginia Tech in the semifinals after the Hokies knocked off #3 Maryland 8-5 Thursday. Despite having a worse seed than the Terrapins, the Hokies have a much stronger RPI ranking (37th and 89th, respectively), so the matchup benefits an N.C. State team that is trying to nail down a bid to the NCAA tournament. State also swept Tech in Blacksburg earlier this year.
Of course the red hot Pack, winners of 14 of their last 15 games, can take matters out of the selection committee's hands by winning the whole thing. To do so, the Pack will have to get past the Hokies Friday at 1 p.m. and beat the winner of Florida State-North Carolina on Sunday. FSU downed BC 6-0 and UNC got past Georgia Tech 6-2 in the opening round. The semifinals will air on ESPN3 and select regional sports networks; the championship game is slated for broadcast on ESPN2.