Van Dyken's Walk-Off Homer Lifts State Past ECU, 5-4
April 9, 2014
RALEIGH, N.C. – Sophomore Lana Van Dyken could not have picked a better time to hit her first home run of the 2014 season, as her solo homer in the bottom of the 11th inning helped the NC State softball team earn a 5-4 win against East Carolina Wednesday night at Dail Stadium. The Wolfpack completed the sweep of the doubleheader in the second game, following a 7-2 win in game one.
“We were waiting for that big hit and we finally got it in the 11th,” said head coach Shawn Rychcik. “ECU gave us a very tough battle in that second game and credit to them they’re a good team. We just happened to get the one hit that alluded both teams until the very end so I’m very happy with that.”
It was the Wolfpack’s (25-10) first extra inning game of the season and first for the Pirates since March 11, 2014. The 11-inning affair was the longest game for State since March 7, 2012 against College of Charleston.
After East Carolina (20-15) tied the score at four in the fifth inning, five scoreless innings were played before NC State was able to capitalize. Van Dyken worked the count full in the bottom of the 11th before depositing the next pitch she saw from ECU starting pitcher Caroline Umphlett (5-4) over the fence in left center for a walk-off home run.
“It felt amazing,” said Van Dyken in reference to hitting the walk-off home run. “It was the icing on the cake from the first game and it feels great to get the sweep. The energy in the dugout was my motivation before stepping to the plate and I just wanted to come through for my team.”
The Pirates struck first in the contest due to a leadoff homer from its left fielder Jill Jelnick. State bounced back in the third inning with four runs to take a 4-1 lead. Van Dyken ripped an RBI double in the frame followed by a run scoring single from junior Renada Davis, before freshman Molly Hutchison smashed a two-run blast to center field. It was Hutchison’s eight homer of the year.
In the top of the fifth, ECU knotted the score at four with three runs in the inning thanks to home runs from Shelby Johnson and Alex Fieldhouse.
Freshman Courtney Mirabella started the game in the circle for the Wolfpack and pitched four innings before giving way to junior Emily Weiman (22-8), who earned the win, in the fifth. The two combined to strike out 11 hitters and only allowed five walks in the 11 innings played.
Van Dyken led the team at the plate with a 2-for-4 performance, including two RBI and two runs scored. Davis and senior Leah Jones went 2-for-5 in the game, while Kirsty Grant, Hutchison, Hanna Sommer and Hannah Yeager each had one hit.
NC State will return to action this weekend when it travels to Gainesville, Fla., for games against the host Florida Gators and Florida A&M. Both games are slated for Saturday, April 12 with the first game against Florida A&M at 12:30 p.m. and the contest against Florida to follow.