Day two of the River City Leadoff softball tournament did not go as well as day one for NC State; in fact, while the stakes were much lower, the back-to-back collapses were reminiscent of such sad times as St. Louis and TCU.
The Pack held leads in both the seventh and eighth innings in both games of a mixed twinbill. The Pack actually lost three different leads before dropping an 11-10, extra-inning affair to UNC-Greensboro in the first game. The Pack found the last out difficult to come by again against host Jacksonville, blowing a 3-1 advantage in the bottom of the seventh, and a 7-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth, before getting walked off again, this time an 8-7 setback in nine innings.
The Pack jumped to a 4-0 lead against the Spartans in the second, an advantage that would seem insurmountable with Courtney Mirabella in the circle. Mirabella allowed just two runs in 14 innings while fanning 18 in two complete games on Friday, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh of her first start, but she came unhinged in the third, surrendering five runs without recording an out. She walked three in the frame before giving way to Harli Hubbard.
The Pack plated five more in the fifth to retake the lead at 9-5, but Hubbard, who had been cruising, couldn't hold the lead in the seventh. Lindsay Thomas's two-run tater made it 9-7, and, with two outs, freshman third basewoman Brittany Nimmo's throwing error allowed the tying run to score. Nimmo was pressed into action after Alyssa Compton left the game early, forcing Lana Van Dyken to move from third to short. The Pack committed four miscues on the day, leading to two unearned runs.
Compton did not return for the second game, breaking her streak of 63 consecutive starts.
An error allowed the Pack to take a 10-9 lead in the eighth, but UNCG scored twice on a walk and three hits in the bottom of the frame to walk off before an out was recorded. Tory Wright, who had three hits on the day, delivered the game winner. The Spartans are 3-1 in the tournament, including a win over Kansas.
State batters drew 10 walks in the losing effort, and Tyler Ross drove in three runs to give her seven RBI in State's first three games.
Maggie Hawkins homered twice against Jacksonville, including a two-run shot to break a 1-1 tie in the top of the seventh. Her homer didn't stand up thanks in part to her own error in the bottom half of the inning that came ahead of Danielle Baker's game-tying bomb.
A Meredith Burroughs grand slam in the first extra frame wasn't even enough, as Kristen Griffith answered with a three-run blast and the Dolphins got back-to-back hits with two outs to tie it.
Mirabella started in the circle for the fourth time in four games, going eight innings and allowing seven runs, six earned, on 10 hits. Hubbard relieved her in the ninth and immediately surrendered a walk-off single to Emily Sanchez to take her second loss of the day. College softball starts a runner on second base in every extra inning, thus the unique ability to give up a walk-off single to the first hitter of the inning.
Mirabella was great on day one, but if her day two results are any indication, she doesn't have Emily Weiman-like stamina. Even though the stress on the body is much different than pitching in baseball, over 400 pitches in two days is just too many, from a mental standpoint if not a physical one, for anyone (not named Weiman).
The Pack will play a fifth and final game at the event tomorrow at 12:30 against Coastal Carolina, a team they beat 5-1 in their season opener.