NC State's softball team opened the 2015 campaign with five games in three days in Louisiana. The Lady Pack nine cruised to easy wins over a pair of unranked opponents but came up short in all three games against ranked foes from the Pelican State.
Jordan Wallace, the preseason Sun Belt pick for pitcher of the year, greeted the Pack rudely in Friday's season opener, fanning 14 en route to a two-hit shutout in the Ragin' Cajuns' 6-0 win. State's Emily Weiman was roughed up for eight hits and six earned runs in six innings, including giving up long balls to Hayley Hayden and Kelsey Vincent. Renada Davis and Tyler Ross recorded State's only hits.
The Pack bounced back later in the day with a 7-0 rout of Central Arkansas, getting a two-hit shutout of their own from Courtney Mirabella, who also fanned 14. Ross paced the offense with three hits, two RBI, and a run scored.
The Pack moved to 2-1 with a convincing 9-3 win over Memphis on Saturday. Weiman was solid save for one mistake, a three-run homer served up to Calli Irvin. The senior struck out five and only walked one over 6.2 innings before yielding to freshwoman Harli Hubbard, who nervously walked three before recording an out but escaped unscathed. Molly Hutchinson led an offense that pounded out 11 hits with a 3-for-4 day that included a home run and three batted in. Junior Maggie Hawkins, a transfer from Hofstra, also went yard.
State couldn't scratch against 6-2 freshwoman Allie Walljasper in its first of two games against LSU, a 7-0 setback, though Ross continued to swing the bat well, collecting two of her team's four hits. Mirabella was pounded for 10 hits and seven runs, five earned. Bianka Bell did most of the damage for the Tigers with three hits, including a double and a homer, three RBI, and three runs scored.
The Pack struck first in their rematch with the Tigers on a Lana Van Dyken solo shot in the top of the opening frame, but LSU answered with two in the bottom of the frame and held on for a 4-2 win. Weiman settled in after allowing two runs in each of the first two innings, rolling 11 groundball outs over her six innings in the circle.
Weiman has made 122 starts in her Pack career, a program record, and sits just two complete games shy of 100 for her career.
Ross has opened the season on fire for the Pack, hitting safely in seven of her 15 at bats (.467). Hutchinson is 7-for-17 (.412) and has a pair of round trippers already after going deep 10 times a year ago in her first collegiate season.
The Ragin' Cajuns opened the season ranked ninth and the Tigers are 19th. The road gets even tougher for the Pack as they take on #1 ranked Florida three times in three days Friday through Sunday in Gainesville, with a random game against Iowa thrown in for good measure on Saturday. The games against the Gators will be televised by the SEC Network.