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    Pack Softball Smacks 3 HRs, Scores 12 Runs To Win Series Finale Vs. Georgia Tech
    Junior Kirsty Grant
    Junior Kirsty Grant

    March 30, 2013

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    ATLANTA – NC State’s softball team used a five-run fifth inning and a protest-fueled six-run burst in the seventh to win its ACC-series finale against Georgia Tech on Saturday afternoon at Tech’s Mewborn Field.

    The Pack (15-16-1 overall, 3-5 ACC), playing in the last installment of a 12-game road trip, hit three home runs, including the first career grand slam by junior catcher Kirsty Grant and sophomore shortstop Renada Davis’ ACC-leading 14th of the season.

    “We got really good production throughout the lineup,” said first-year coach Shawn Rychcik.  “It’s a good sign for us to get that kind of confidence as we get ready to finally come back home for a few games.”

    After a transcontinental trip that included seven games against ranked opponents, the Pack will return to Curtis and Jacqueline Dail Stadium on Wednesday to host a doubleheader against Charlotte and a three-game series next weekend against ACC-foe Maryland.

    In the fifth inning of Saturday’s series finale against the Jackets, a pair of infield errors on sharply hit balls by freshman Lana Van Dyken and Renada Davis set the table for the Wolfpack, and senior centerfielder Caitlin Dent delivered with a run-scoring double to left field.

    Chelsea Tate, Hanna Sommer and Bethaney Wells all drove in single runs with hits, and Tate scored from third on a passed ball as the Wolfpack sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning.

    In the seventh, after Tate walked and Albertson reached on an infield error, Sommer, Wells and Jones all hit fly ball outs to seemingly end the inning. But Rychcik nailed the Yellow Jackets for an unreported substitution of second baseman Caitlyn Coffey, who had caught the fly ball by Jones in shallow centerfield.

    After Rychcik protested, the umpires signaled for the Wolfpack players to return to the dugout and put Jones back in the batter’s box.

    She walked to load the bases, and Van Dyken walked to drive in a run. Kirsty Grant followed with her first career grand slam and Davis hit a solo shot for her ACC-leading 14th homer of the season. It’s the first time this season the Pack has had back-to-back home runs.

    State eventually sent 11 batters to the plate in the protest-extended inning.

    “It was something we noticed three innings earlier, but we decided to wait until she got a hit or was involved in a fielding play because otherwise it’s just an mistake that is corrected without a penalty,” Rychcik said. “It just turned out that she caught the ball Leah hit, so that’s when we reported it. Leah got another chance and we took advantage of the mistake.

    “As it turned out, we needed the little extra cushion.”

    Tate finished the day with a 3-for-3 performance with one RBI, raising her team-leading average to .345 on the season.

    Dent, who also had two hits on the day, gave the Wolfpack an early lead with her fourth home run of the season, a solo shot over the left-field wall in the top of the third inning.

    The Yellow Jackets (17-18, 4-2) nearly erased that lead in the bottom half of the inning, as Ashley Thomas led off with a double off the leftfield wall that nearly got out of the park. Alysha Rudnik followed with a single to left that Wolfpack senior Bethaney Wells bobbled, giving Thomas, one of the ACC’s fastest players, the chance to go home.

    But Wells’ one-hop throw to the plate nailed Thomas for the first out of the inning, as Rudnik advanced to second. The Yellow Jackets eventually loaded the bases, but Weiman fielded a pair of come-backers to the circle, throwing the first to home for an out and the second to first to end the threat.

    Georgia Tech tied the game in the bottom of the fourth when a pair of Wolfpack errors and a single by Thomas scored the Yellow Jackets’ only run of the first six innings.

    Weiman (13-14) struck out two in the inning and Tate ended the threat by ranging to her left for a grounder for the third out. Weiman was particularly strong in the sixth, when she struck out the side in order. On the day, she allowed eight hits and four walks to go with her seven strikeouts.

    The Pack answered quickly with the five-run fifth, and added six more with the unusual turn of events in the top of the seventh.

    Tech added a three runs in the bottom of the seventh with a two infield singles and a wild pitch that put runners on second and third. A sacrifice fly, a run-scoring single and a run-scoring triple cut the Pack’s lead down to eight but Weiman eventually ended the game with a grounder back to the circle.

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