Senior Bethaney Wells Blasts 2-Run Homer To Lift Pack Softball
May 17, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Senior Bethaney Wells, NC State's top home run hitter the last two seasons, laced a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning of Friday's NCAA Knoxville Regional opener against James Madison, giving the ACC-champion Wolfpack a 2-0 victory over the Dukes in its first game.
It's the first time in school history that the Wolfpack (34-18-1) has won its opening game in an NCAA Regional. In both 2006 and '07, the Pack lost its opener and won its second game in the loser's bracket at Baton Rouge, La., and at Columbia, S.C., respectively.
The Pack, which has won 13 in a row and 20 of its last 22 contests, moves on to face the winner of Friday's second game between No. 5 Tennessee and fourth-seed Longwood. Saturday's game between the winners will be at 1:30 p.m. at Tennessee's Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
"I struggled all day off of her, because she was hitting her spots and I wasn't making contact," Wells said of James Madison pitcher Jailyn Ford. "But on that at-bat, she left one out in my sweet spot and I did with it what I am supposed to do.
"It was what we needed at the time."
Wells' shot, banged over the right field wall and into the side of James Madison's parked bus, drove in senior Katie Mansilla, who was pinch running for rally-starting freshman Hanna Sommer. Sommer drew a one-out walk ahead of Wells.
It was Wells' eighth homer of the season and the 30th of her career, which is in sole possession of third place in school history behind Jenn Chamberlain's 49 and sophomore Renada Davis' 31. Wells led the Wolfpack with nine homers in 2011 and 11 in '12.
It was also Wells' second hit of the day, making her the only player on either team with multiple hits in the classic pitcher's duel between Ford and Wolfpack sophomore Emily Weiman (32-16).
Weiman was strong throughout the game, though she had only two strikeouts on the day. She gave up no walks and three singles, one to lead off the game and back-to-back flares to right field in the fifth inning when the Dukes mounted their biggest threat of the game - and the Pack defense turned in a game-saving double play.
James Madison put runners on second and third with one out thanks to a pair of right-field singles and a sacrifice bunt. Catherine Clavin then hit a fly ball to right field that junior Scout Albertson caught for the second out and threw to catcher Kirsty Grant at home plate.
After an initial bobble, Grant grabbed the ball and chased the tagging runner back to third base, diving and getting the runner on the heel with her mitt. She didn't need it, but Grant also tagged out the runner from second base, who was standing nearby.
"We got ourselves into a little bit of trouble," said first-year coach Shawn Rychcik. "The flare to right wasn't a big hit. The second was pretty solid. On the fly ball, we short-hopped our catcher a little bit and she made a great pick up of the ball and chased the runner down the line.
"She just barely got her on the heel. The good thing is that if we hadn't got her, we had the third out standing right there."
In the bottom of the fifth, the Wolfpack put runners in scoring position thanks to a single by Wells and back-to-back errors by James Madison's infield. With the bases loaded, senior Caitlin Dent grounded out to shortstop to end the Pack's biggest threat of the first five innings.
"I really think, though, that double play gave us the momentum," Rychcik said. "We felt confident that we would get some runs for Emily in those last innings."