The Pack Nine are off to a 6-2 start despite trailing in all eight of their games so far this year, but Coastal Carolina, a perennial top 25 and NCAA tournament team might be the only program on the schedule so far that's recognizable to the average NC State fan. Should we be concerned that the Pack haven't dominated non-power five clubs in the early going? A closer look at the schedule might alleviate your concerns.
State opened with a 5-0 loss to Old Dominion, a team that was under .500 a year ago, but the Monarchs seem to have turned a corner. ODU is off to a 7-1 start with its only loss coming to the ACC's Virginia Tech.
The Pack bounced back with a win over #18 Coastal Carolina and then beat tradition-rich Kent State to move to 2-1. D1Baseball.com was apparently not concerned with the start, as they bumped State from 10th to 8th in their poll. The Golden Flashes won 31 games a year ago and have taken the MAC tournament in nine of the past 15 seasons. They are off to a 4-3 start that includes two-run losses to then #4 Virginia and NC State.
Next up was a midweek game against Morehead State; the Pack eked out another come-from-behind, two-run win. But Morehead is also no slouch, having won 38 games and the Ohio Valley Conference tournament a year ago.
Wright State started the season 5-0 before dropping the last two in its weekend series to the Pack. The Raiders won 43 games a year ago, including two in the Champaign regional. They shut out and knocked out the ACC's Notre Dame.
Yesterday the theme continued, as the Pack erased a 4-2 deficit with a six-run bottom of the eighth to stop UNC-Greensboro 8-4. Chance Shepard's three-run bomb, his fourth homer in as many games, was the big blow in the decisive inning. If you guessed that the Spartans are off to a good start, you would be right. UNCG came into the game with a 6-1 mark.
State's opponents have an impressive combined record of 32-13 and nearly all of their games have come on the road. While some early wins over (or even games against) power five opponents would be nice, Elliott Avent's crew is building a solid, RPI boosting résumé against solid mid-major programs, many of which are likely to be playing postseason baseball.
Most promising of all, a pitching staff that allowed at least five runs in each of State's first five games seems to have settled down, yielding just nine runs total in the last three, and one of those was unearned. The Pack Nine will need the staff to be sharp today, as they take on undefeated UNC-Wilmington (6-0) at 3 p.m. The Seahawks have posted double digit runs in all of their games this season.