Softball: State at Duke

(State at Duke; Friday 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. ACCNX; Sunday 4 p.m. ACCN)

A fan of N. C. State softball has to be excited and surprised at the team's start. State is 19-3 overall; 2-1 conference. I admit, after last year's transfers and departures especially within the pitching staff, I did not expect this. The games at Duke, who is ranked 13th in the nation and who won the ACC Tournament Championship over Clemson last season, should give State fans an indication of how good the team is.

The turn-around in pitching is a welcome change. Last season not one State pitcher had an ERA below 4. This season to date, only one pitcher, Brooklyn Lucero, has an ERA above 3. Maddie McPherson has an ERA of 1.97 (5-1 for season) and Aisha Weixlmann has an ERA of 2.03 (7-1). Sam Gress, also 7-1, has an ERA of 2.76.

Abby Trahan, Estelle Czech and Sydney Nester did the bulk of the pitching for the Pack last season and all are no longer on the team with Czech and Nester transferring and Trahan exhausting her eligibility. Sam Gress pitched and won one game last season. Gress had 15 appearances in her 2020 freshman season. Her ERA in 2020 was 1.27, so Sam pitching well is no surprise. Note that Sam threw a no-hitter against N.C. A&T in her first collegiate start.

While State due to transfers lost two potential starters for the pitching staff, State due to transfers, added two pitchers for the pitching staff, graduate student Maddie McPherson and redshirt sophomore Aisha Weixlmann. Aisha transferred from Winthrop while Maddie transferred from Georgia Tech.

As last season Logan Thomas is leading the team in hitting 492 (7 home runs) while Carson Shiner is leading the team in home runs with 9 (313 avg). Randi Farriker who hit 17 home runs last season only has 3 so far this season-expect more.

With regard to home runs, State is second in the conference with 38. Duke is first with 39. State is also second in batting average (342) while Duke is first (354). With regard to ERA State is 6th at 2.33 while Duke is 4th at 1.95. Unfortunately, when it comes to fielding, State is last in the conference with a fielding percentage of 947. Duke is 7th in fielding percentage at 972.

Looking to pick up at least one win. Go Pack!