NC State entered Saturday's game against Wright State (which I didn't even know was a state...what's the capital of Wright?) having allowed at least five runs in each of its previous five contests. With a 3-2 mark against a schedule of something less than world beaters, it was high time the Pack looked like the team that at least one poll honored with a preseason top 10 ranking. Behind Brian Brown, a freshman All-American a year ago, the Pack finally looked the part, cruising to a 6-1 win.
The "W" avenged a series-opening 10-8 loss to the Rowdy Raiders*. And, to their credit, in addition to owning a fabulous nickname, the Raiders were unbeaten heading into Saturday's game.
Brown, Cody Beckman, Chance Shepard, Evan Mendoza, and Josh McLain had a thing or two to say about that unbeaten start. Brown allowed just an unearned run over five innings, and when the Rowdy Raiders (5-1) loaded the sacks with nobody out in the sixth (in part due to Brown's error), Beckman spelled him with a strikeout and double play ball to get out of the frame unscathed. Beckman ended up surrendering just a lone hit and walk in 3.1 innings while fanning four.
State led 2-1 when it escaped the bases-loaded jam. A solo homer and RBI single from Shepard provided the first two runs. The Pack got an RBI single from Mendoza, who went 3-for-4 while making his first career start at third base, to spark a four-run rally in the bottom of the frame that blew the game open. McLain doubled home a pair for the biggest blow in the inning.
The Pack look to take the series and move to 5-2 Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.
The women's softball team advanced to a super regional for the first time in school history last year but came up short against Oregon in their bid to advance further. If fans of Shawn Rychcik's program ever wondered what playing in the women's college world series would look like, they need look no further than the stacked Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City, CA, a tournament that pits the Pack against four ranked foes in three days, including Florida (#1) and Michigan (#2).
So far so NOT good for the ladies. NC State opened on the wrong end of a 17-2 drubbing at the hands of #17 Missouri. The Gators edged the Pack 5-2 in a game that was closer than the box score would indicate. Florida outhit the Pack 10-2. The women had their best performance of the season against #25 California, getting homers from Tyler Ross, Meredith Burroughs, and Maggie Hawkins in a 7-5 win, but got torched 15-9 against the one unranked opponent on their slate, Stanford.
Burroughs and Ross have done their part to try to pick up the less than potent Pack pitching, homering three times apiece. Maggie Hawkins and Hanna Sommer have also done yardwork, and Sommer added a bases-clearing double in the losing effort against the Cardinal.
The Michigan game is slated or 10:30 this evening. An upset there would go a long way to salvaging the west coast trip that has dropped the Pack to 6-7.
*Wright State is named after Orville and Wilbur Wright, and the actual mascot of the team is a wolf, showing with certainty that the entire state of Ohio are all a bunch of North Carolina wannabes. Sure, the Wright bros may have been from Ohio, but where did they fly? And a wolf mascot? You better hope we don't get litigious on your ass.